Neither Seek Nor Avoid, Take What Comes.

The title is a quote from the collected works of Swami Vivekananda. My choice for the topic for this week’s 2 on 1 post came about inspired by the following comment by my fellow 2 on 1 blogger Shackman on my last week’s 2 on 1 post. “Mostly though I simply accept what has been my life essentially as my destiny – which frankly surprised me.” He zapped me further when I suggested this title with – “The Swami speaks again! Sounds good!”

Here is the Swami’s take on the topic.

In 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb published a book called The Black Swan. In it, he argues that human history is best understood in terms of its most consequential events. The thing about these events is that, once they’ve already happened, we always think we understand the causes of why they occurred. But the truth is, that they’re fundamentally unpredictable. We only have the illusion of understanding them. The implication, and the meat of Taleb’s book, is about how you have to expect the unexpected.

So, how does one go about expect the unexpected and also accept that there is every likelihood of the unlikely happening?

The answer lies in two parts.  The first is in The Serenity Prayer. For the uninitiated, it is as follows:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Even if one is an atheist or an agnostic, instead of “God”, one can say “May I have” as a means of auto suggestion and the advice given in the topic becomes a child’s play.

The second part is in the Zen observation’

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.”

~ Matsuo Bashō

Both parts suggest developing a state of equanimity. Difficult to put into practice but,  not impossible.  Just about every spiritual discipline suggests that one tries to reach this stage of being, so that one can live a peaceful and stress free life.

To know others is wisdom;
To know yourself is enlightenment
To master others requires force;
To master yourself requires true strength.”

~ Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching. Ch 33.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the same topic.

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15 Responses to Neither Seek Nor Avoid, Take What Comes.

  1. shackman says:

    When I said I asscepted my life as my destiny I did not mean to imply I simply played catcher to some unknown pitcher serving up my life in bits and pieces. I accept the fact that the decisions I made led me down the path I ultimately chose by making those decisions. I did not simply sit back on auto pilot. This statement implies a passivity I could never fully embrace – although I admit in my retirement I am much more passive.

    It is our responses to events we encounter on the road of life that determine our destiny – our fate is mostly in our own hands. As long as we essentially are fair to others, treat people with the same respect we expect to be treated and honestly try to do no harm, we stand an excellent chance of leaving the world in better shape than when we entered it. Now if I come back in my next life as a cactus I will know that I blew it.

    You picked a good topic.

  2. Wisewebwoman says:

    Lately in meditation (Tao) I’ve been focussed on my reaction to events, the old coping mechanisms do not serve me well and I am quick to find hurt/anger/sadness in reaction. Staying in the moment and not personalizing remarks or actions is where I’m at.

    Great post.

    XO
    WWW

  3. You know what I’m going to say,

    Stay curious and open to life. No matter what happens keep learning and growing.

    Equanimity is not passivity.

    Play your part well and let go of the results.

    My mind was built for creative problem solving, so this approach is a natural one for me and it brings me great joy.

  4. and I go with “flow” – if it is meant to be it will happen…but if it doesn’t happen, I may have been looking at the wrong part of the flow…

    this relates a little to the reply to the text that always starts with “…how r u?” which I mentioned in last blog post. There is no point much in me replying with anything other than answering whatever the posed other question was…in this guys reason to text is about “catching up…” which happens in fits/starts because frankly I have a bit of a problem with this guy – he has problems that I have no way to solve! Anything I suggest, he basically says “no way…”

    I would much rather spend that hour of that cafe talk with a stranger on public transport who are usually far more interesting…

    oops changed the flow of this post…my bad

    • Very often our conversations follow a set pattern and the one that you write about is one of them. So would I for that matter, sit around in a cafe and discuss local politics instead.

  5. tammy j says:

    I am struggling with this mind set lately. at my age it feels best.
    but I look at history and all that has happened. the Hitlers (or their ilk) are still among us and some in leadership positions. mad men who have agendas.
    I don’t know if letting what will be will be… is good enough. but then I have little energy for any confrontation or even solving of the injustices.
    my problem is … I think I have the wisdom to know the difference but I lack the intestinal fortitude and the energy to make a difference now.
    it is up to younger bodies than mine.
    I only seek inner peace.

  6. Amazing the way we wake every day, and keep putting one foot in front of the other, with no idea of what will happen. But tomorrow we will understand it perfectly! Your masthead, “Wisdom by Hindsight” says it brilliantly!

    • I realised some years ago that all wisdom is in retrospect. While we are at it, our intelligence deserts us and we usually act on instinct and regret later.

      • I, of course, say that doesn’t have to be true. We can train our instincts to relax our bodies and plug in our brains. It doesn’t always work, but often it makes a tremendous difference. Isn’t that what Buddha was trying to teach?

  7. Sometimes more difficult than others. And I’m a believer in the serenity prayer (the atheist version), but even so it’s tough.

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