Deep Acceptance of Life… And Saying “No”!

I want to talk about something that seems so very much misunderstood in the ‘spiritual ‘community.

If we deeply accept ourselves as we are, and we deeply accept situations exactly as they present themselves, and we deeply accept others as they are, does that mean that we always have to say “yes” to everything and everyone, even if that “yes” leads to more violence? Does it mean that we become passive, and let others “walk all over us”, as they say? If “everything is okay”, does that mean that we lose our powers of discrimination?

Of course not. Deep acceptance is so vast that it embraces both the “yes” and the “no” of life.

For example, if someone is beating you up every night, is it intelligent, kind wise, or awakened in any sense of those words to keep on allowing it, saying “yes” to it, explicitly or implicitly, when in your gut you feel a “no” – however much you love them?

Saying “no” to violence, abuse, or anything that in your gut doesn’t feel right to you, is not the same as saying “no” to life itself. Saying “no” is not necessarily resistance to life. This is so, so important to realise.

How often do we say “yes”, when we really mean “no”, and vice versa? If we really mean “no”, if “no” is our deeper truth, then saying “yes” is a lie, in the moment, for it dishonours the living truth of life, the life that is moving in you, through you, as you. That poor little “no” just needs a little kind attention…

Often we say “yes” because we are trying to uphold some kind of image of ourselves. We want to be seen as the kind one, the compassionate one, the one who always says yes, the positive one, the awakened one, or perhaps the one who accepts everything no matter what. We don’t want to be seen as “negative” or some kind of party pooper. What a burden to have to pretend to be all this! This teaching is not about creating new images of yourself. It’s about the release of all images.

If a deadly insect is eating into our skin, is it okay to take steps to remove the insect? In removing this particular insect from your skin, you are not saying “no” to the existence of deadly insects. You are not saying “no” to life as it is. You are not at war with the insect. You feel no hate. It is not your mortal enemy. It is life itself, as you are. Seen in this way, seen through universal eyes, even in removing the insect, you are actually affirming life, not resisting it. You are affirming the sacredness and the mystery of it. You are saying yes to life in all its manifestations – including the manifestation where insects are removed from human skin (in as kind a way as possible, hopefully!). Pretending that you accept the insect, pretending that you have a “yes” to being eaten alive when really a “no” is also a valid movement of life, does not seem intelligent or honest.

Of course, nobody can tell you whether a “yes” or a “no” is appropriate for you in the moment. This deeper “yes” or “no” is something for all of us to find for ourselves. Perhaps some of us can tolerate deadly insects better than others. I don’t know. But that’s beside the point. For the deep acceptance that you are is vast enough for a “no” or a “yes” in the moment. Both of these movements are held by the unconditional, ever-present YES that you are. That’s the YES we are really seeking – the YES with no opposite.

And so it’s not about trying to be a “deeply accepting person”, or “someone who never says no”. It’s not about upholding the spiritual image. It’s about remembering who you are beyond the image, beyond all images – life itself. And it’s about honouring this life that you are, that we all are. And sometimes honouring life expresses itself as a firm, and loving, and intelligent, “no”.

A “no”, spoken in clarity and truth, without hate, without violence, without attachment to any outcome, without trying to hold up any image of yourself, is really a great big YES to life. Once, I had ban someone from my Facebook page, someone who had been going around abusing other members for months, calling them “mentally ill” and so on, and who ignored all of my fair warnings and offers of help. This is a great example of a “no” coming from a deeper YES. This person was clearly in great psychological pain, but was not interested in any kind of help, seeing himself as above everyone else. Banning him was not a “no” to him, or a “no” to life itself. It was not a rejection of him, nor a judgement of him as a living, breathing, suffering being. It was an example of a “yes” to life disguised as a clear “no” to this particular behaviour in this particular context at this particular time. There was no violence in it, no bitterness. It was deep acceptance moving as a preference – a preference for those on this page to not abuse each other repeatedly, even after fair warnings – and the result of continued abuse would be loss of privileges. The boundaries were clear, the “no” was clear, and so really, the “no” was a “yes” to life, a “yes” to my Facebook page and those who use it, and a “yes” to this person returning when he was ready to say “yes” to it all too. Of course, he may not see it this way right now! And I can understand that too. Everything is in its right place and time.

Deep acceptance of things exactly as they are, is totally compatible with intelligent and honest action and speech, and a deep honouring of preferences as they arise. Preferences are not necessarily judgements, nor are they “against” life in any way. The “no” to a particular circumstance is embraced by the vastness of the cosmic YES that we are.

So let’s give some kind attention to that poor, neglected “no” wave when it appears, whilst resting always in that deeper, effortless, oceanic embrace of YES.