To Accept the Things I Cannot Change

I was reflecting on the recovery prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It occurred to me that it would be valuable to more deeply explore each section of this invocation—acceptance, courage, and discernment—and help others gain deeper insight into these core elements of graceful living. This article is the first in this series.

By George A. Boyd © 2021

Q: What does acceptance mean? How do I know whether I can change something or not?

A: Acceptance has a number of facets. Some of the expressions of acceptance are:

  • Surrendering to the Divine Will and asking the Divine to guide you
  • Letting go of continuing to struggle and just being
  • Ceasing to fight for something and let others have their way; become detached as to the outcome
  • Stop playing the game and enacting the old weary dramas over and over; being willing to allow a new pattern to emerge in your life that is authentic and actualizing
  • Abandoning worry and over-thinking and just allow yourself to be present and serene
  • Acknowledging and feeling gratitude for the good that is now in your life
  • Step out of the perspective where you feel targeted and experience stress; take in the larger picture and recognize the other possibilities that are available to you

When you stop struggling, resisting, fighting, and worrying, you can step into the peace of acceptance. In acceptance, you acknowledge what is—not what you want the world and other people to be, but what is happening now and who people actually are.

We have explored what and how you can change in one of our articles, “Acceptance and Change Revisited.” We reproduce it here:

Acceptance and Change Revisited

Excepted from “When You’re Crazy and Stoned” © 1998 by George A. Boyd

Acceptance means you allow things to remains they are without attempting to change them. You remain in a state of being, of witnessing, of non-action. This passive state promotes self-understanding.

Change means you apply your will in specific ways to alter the circumstances and patterns of your life. You adopt the role of creator and transformer by using your will.

There are several ways you can change:

  1. Change of perception – this means changing what you look at: instead of only seeing the bad, you also look at the good; you are willing to hear something else and to feel something else
  2. Change of action – you change what you do in a particular situation
  3. Change of attitude – you change what something means to you, so you react to it in a different way
  4. Change of thinking – you analyze how you defend and distort certain areas of your life and be willing to consider an alternate approach
  1. Change of context – using your imagination, you become willing to view an issue or problem from another angle or perspective
  2. Change of suggestion – you give new directives to the subconscious mind, which changes how you habitually or automatically responds to situations
  3. Change of commitment – you choose what you commit to and you act with honor and integrity
  4. Change of role – you perform other tasks, look at a problem from another perspective, and you do new things
  5. Change of values – you reexamine your ideas of what you “should,” “ought to,” or “must” do, have, or become, and modify them
  6. Change of goals – you set new priorities, changing when and how you will pursue a goal, and you re-evaluate the goals that you have set
  7. Change of concept – by gathering new information through study and learning, you develop new conceptual models to view the situation
  8. Change of self-awareness – through insight, you come to view problems and life situations in a new context
  9. Choosing to change – you activate your will to alter an existing behavior, attitude, belief, or construct

The idea of making a resolution means that:

  1. You will review your life
  2. You will acknowledge what you have accomplished
  3. You notice how you feel about what you have done
  4. Then you notice what feels incomplete, or what you desire that you don’t yet have
  5. You make a plan for obtaining it
  6. You commit yourself to doing it
  7. You do whatever it takes to achieve your objective

You decide to change. You resolve to change. You make change happen.

Things You Cannot Change

You can change your own behavior and can work on the conscious and unconscious levels of your own mind. You sometimes can persuade others to agree with you and get them to do what you want; sometimes you can’t.

You don’t control wars, diseases for which mankind has not found a cure, and the mighty forces of Nature that act beyond humanity’s ability to stop or control. You may not control aspects of your own nature—genetic conditions and mental tendencies that act outside of your ability to control then using your will or intention.

You must determine what you can do, what you are willing to do given your abilities and passion, and what you will do. We say, “act within your zone of liberty to improve your life, to make others’ lives better, and to make spiritual progress.”

Accept you cannot do everything, fix all problems, bring miraculous solutions for everyone, and instantly experience fulfillment of all of your dreams. Accept that healing takes time, and recovery from addiction and trauma takes time.

Accept what is. Believe in what can be. Do what you can to make constructive change where and when you can. Work to actualize your dreams and your spiritual potentials. Make this a life that counts and makes a difference.

Those of you who are in stable recovery from your addictions may find the Addiction Recovery Coaching Program helpful.

Bound or Free

Bound or Free: An Inquiry into Control

By George A. Boyd © 2018

Q: Am I deceiving myself that I have control over my life, when I really don’t? Is my will just an illusion? Is everything just unfolding on its own and I have only the false belief that I am doing anything at all?

A: To answer this question, you need to inquire what enables you to create change and what you cannot control.

Internal factors that you control include:

  1. Your personal liberty – you are free to make choices between alternatives using the volition of the Self
  2. Stored karma – you can use transformational spiritual practices to work out stored karma behind the Soul (Adi Karma), in the channels of the Nada (Sinchit Karma), and behind the seed atoms of your vehicles in the Superconscious Mind (the stored aspect of Kriyaman Karma)
  3. Your transpersonal liberty – your Soul is free to carry out its ministry and service using its transpersonal will; your attentional principle operates its intention freely; and your spirit expresses its wish without barriers

Internal factors you do not control include:

  1. Destiny (Pralabdha) Karma – these are psychological and constitutional factors that you cannot control through your will, intention, or wish
  2. Divine Will – this is the Eternal Force that animates the Soul and guides the process of spiritual development; it is fully manifest in spiritual Masters

External factors you can control include:

  1. Using the egoic octave of will, you can initiate individual units of behavior to operate on the environment to carry out the activities of daily life and to design and organize your environment
  2. Your zone of responsibility extends to your property and possessions; and to your relationships—your duty and commitments to other people and the society in which you live. You can choose to exercise this responsibility or to neglect or abandon it.

External factors you do not control include:

  1. Other people’s choices – while you can attempt to use negotiation, persuasion, or manipulation to attempt to make people do what you want, you do not control their ultimate choices
  2. The activity of Nature and the world around you – you do not control the weather, the movements of the earth or the sea, or the creatures that dwell in Nature
  3. The activity of other spiritual beings – you do not control the activities of other attentional principles, spirits, or Souls; angels, Masters, gods and goddesses, or the Divine—these beings operate independently from you.

Your challenge is to identify what you can control, and use it effectively to carry out your Soul’s purpose and make a positive contribution in the lives of others. We suggest that you study the conative principles within yourself—will, at both its personal and transpersonal octaves; the intention and suggestion your attentional principle generates; and the wish that expresses your spirit.

There are several states of conscious awareness that certain spiritual teachers point to as states of enlightenment. In these states it appears you have no self, and that things unfold of themselves, without a doer.

These states of awareness, where it appears that spontaneous action arises, include:

  1. The voidness of being – this highest center of the Metaconscious mind appears as a pool of peace, and action appears to effortlessly arise without choice
  2. The wave of the present time – this first nodal point of the Akashic Records Subplane of the Abstract Mind Plane is the nexus where the Soul’s thought pours into human life. Passive absorption into this center brings the awareness that there is no self or abiding identity, no desire, no meaning, and no one to make any change.
  3. Brahman – in the first Cosmic Initiation, at the pinnacle of the seventh chakra of the Cosmic Man or Woman, it appears that the entire Creation is God’s dream, and only God is real. Human life and its parade of actions are like a movie that plays spontaneously, with no actor.
  4. The Supracosmic seed atom on the Vipassana Buddhist Path – here is appears that everything arises out of the ground of Mind, and is an eternal flow in which the heart-mind experiences in the moment. Everything is transient, impermanent, ceaseless change. This ceaseless change is called Samsara; the consciousness that perceives it is Nirvana.

We point out that if you don’t focus your attention in these states, you will be aware of integration centers in the personality—the ego and the Self; and integration centers in the Superconscious mind—nuclei of identity and the ensouling entities. You will also become aware that volition arises from these integration centers, and that you can generate action and life change through your volition.

We suggest that these is a time when it is appropriate to repose in these flowing, passive states of being and non-action; for example, when you are in need of rest and wish to experience peace and reduce your stress. It is also important that you be able to operate out of the empowered states where your volition acts to promote change and accomplish your goals. The challenge for aspirants is to locate both these wellsprings of being and will, and to be able to function in both states as the situation requires.