Two days ago, I got bad news, which has been kind of hard on me. I have been doing relatively well lately but then I began to feel bitter again, angry at life and how unfair it is. The disappointment was so real, it was like I never get a break! I suppose I have not fully internalized acceptance yet. The following is an excerpt from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.
“The Zen Master Hikuin lived in a town in Japan. He was held in high regard and many people came to him for spiritual teaching. Then it happened that the teenage daughter of his next-door neighbor became pregnant and she told her parents Hakuin was the father. They were angry at him and shouted and cursed him. All he replied was, “Is that so?”
News of the scandal spread and the Master lost his reputation, nobody came to see him anymore and he remained unmoved. When the baby was born, it was brought to him and he took loving care of the child. A year later, the mother confessed that the real father was the young man who worked at the butcher shop. The parents went to see the master to apologize and ask for forgiveness. They took the child and all he said was, “Is that so?” As he handed the baby over to them.
The Master responds to falsehood and truth, bad news and good news, in exactly the same way: “Is that so?” He allows the form of the moment, good or bad, to be as it is and so does not become a participant in human drama. To him there is only this moment, and this moment is as it is. Events are not personalized. He is nobody’s victim. He is so completely at one with what happens that what happens has no power over him anymore. Only if you resist what happens are you at the mercy of what happens, and the world will determine your happiness and unhappiness.”
Imagine how liberating it is to have this kind of attitude! Living in the now and not resisting makes it easier to accept everything that happens and live a more peaceful life. I wonder however if would not have it been better if Master Hikuin has not accepted the accusation, but instead confronted the neighbor’s daughter. Did not that kind of acceptance bring more damage than good? Telling the truth is less troublesome than letting other people have their way with you. I believe there is a difference between advocating peace and being a pushover.
In my case, that is the most frustrating part, feeling helpless. Usually, acceptance for me comes last. I need to exhaust all possible solutions first and I do everything I can to change the circumstances I find myself in. If nothing works, only then do I throw in the towel and make peace with the fact that it is beyond my control. It is very annoying for me not being able to do anything about my situation. It is difficult for me to just blindly accept things without first fighting with everything I have got.
It is a hard pill to swallow, but right now, I have no other choice. Being bitter about life will not help me at all. And the more I focus on the disappointments, the more I will attract more of them.
The pandemic is far from over, the borders are still closed, real estate prices keep on falling, short-term rentals are not yet allowed, schools are closed and I am still alone. It is really more of an is-that-all kind of thing rather than is-that-so. On the other hand, my life is far from over, lockdowns are making it safer (at least I would like to think so) for everyone, I still have (some of) my properties, I have a few long-term tenants , Sophia and I have adjusted to homeschool and I have been really working hard on becoming better.
I will not take anything personally. The governments decided to keep the borders closed not to make me miserable. I am nobody’s victim. It is just the way it is. I hope I’ll be able to keep this up. Every time I get annoyed (because there are just those times!), I will try to remember the master and tell myself, “Is that so?”
How do you deal with disappointments?