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IV. 5. ACCEPTING THE UNACCEPTABLE

We can only truly accept what is unacceptable. Doing so is one of life's

most enlivening experiences.

As we combine direct spiritual experience with our profound sadness about our death to this life, we are also transported to realms of awe and mystery beyond human understanding. The conventional human understandings with which we normally to comfort ourselves about death - achievements that will survive us, being remembered by family and friends, belief-systems concerning life after death - diminish in importance.

We rather find ourselves seeking comfort in actual experiences that take us beyond limited human understandings and belief-systems into realms of mystery and awe that force us to open.

 

We first reflect on the limits of human understanding. We are humbled by our inability to even answer such basic physical questions as how something could be created from nothing, whether there is other intelligent life in the solar system, what a thought is. We think of all life that has come before us, all life that will follow, and are soon submerged in our inability even to understand the most basic questions of what made us the way we are, whether our present society is the product of accident or design and, most profoundly, what will happen after we are dead and gone.

 

And when we reflect upon how the sum-total of all human understandings are but an infinitesimally small portion of what there is to know in a universe in which the human brain will never evolve far enough to understand - a universe which, even if it is teeming with intelligent life, our screams will never reach  - we can reach even deeper levels of awe, humility and decontraction. We can lay down our burden of seeking to control, understand or change a life beyond our comprehension, and instead find ourselves aligning, breathing and flowing with it.

Such experiences can take us to deeper levels of spiritual acceptance than we ever dreamed possible.

 

But while such levels of deep acceptance are possible, it is also important to remember that we can only accept the unacceptable. We do not speak of "accepting" a beautiful day at the beach or love for our child. The experience of genuine acceptance only has meaning in relation to that which is so painful that we usually cannot accept it.

One of our most exquisite and sublime experiences of life occurs when we mysteriously find that we simultaneously (1) accept death, (2) cannot accept it, and (3) are aware of our experience of accepting the unacceptable.

This experience, like all our experiences, is both precious because it is unrepeatable, and part of an ongoing process. We enter a state in which each experience of accepting the unacceptiblity of death is followed by a deeper experience of its unacceptability, which is followed by a deeper experience of accepting it, which is followed by a deeper experience of its unacceptability ... as we ever-deepen our experience of being alive in the mystery.

Gandhi's last words were to praise God. Our last words, if we have developed a life-affirming death awareness, might be to praise life, as we die suspended in the poignant awareness of our acceptance of the unacceptable.

And we do not have to wait for the end to have this experience. We can begin now.