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Accept Yourself

Accept you nature whatever its obvious faults. Try not to continually feel that you're somehow inferior to other people or that you're riddled with shortcomings and defects. Try to accept your nature as it now stands. It is only in this way that the grosser aspects and neuroses of the mind will drop away.

If elephants spent their time wishing they were goldfish, or peacocks spent their time wishing they were crows, they'd live totally useless and disharmonious lives. But animals live in accordance with the way they have been designed. They've a unique role (dharma) to perform in the kaleidoscope of life... and they do it. So, they live harmoniously.

Man should also live a harmonized, tuned in life ...but unfortunately this is rarely the case. Man can never accept himself and his faults ...and in a way this is a good thing for it leads man to overcoming his apparent limitations and elevating himself to the higher realms of understanding and bliss. But generally the lack of self-acceptance is too overwhelming; it totally grinds man into an overburdened state of worry and dissatisfaction. This leads to a life that is lived at a very low level compared to the possible potential.

There should be more self-acceptance, combined with the need to improve oneself. There should be aspiration for self-improvement, but not neurosis because of the faults that one sees in oneself. Try to accept your present personality, no matter what its obvious weaknesses and faults ...but still have the aspiration to overcome them.

Non-self acceptance as a cause of disease:

The inability to accept oneself is the fundamental cause of disease. Lack of self-acceptance leads not only to mental disharmony, but also to physical ailments. The mental dissatisfaction leads to a reflection and manifestation in the physical body.

Anger is widely regarded as a fault, but anger is a safety valve for pent-up feelings. But many moralistic systems and codes say: " Don't be angry" or &Anger is a sin." Because of this, many people suppress their anger but the driving force behind the anger has to express itself somehow. It is re-channeled. If the suppression of anger is great enough and for prolonged periods of time, it results in high blood pressure, or heart attack and so many other prevalent diseases. So it's best to express one's anger, if it's possible (sometimes circumstance make it difficult). Don't feel any pangs of guilt about your anger. Be angry, for it is better to express it openly than to transform it into disease at a later date. But when you feel angry, be aware. In time, the anger will disappear.

Take another example. Every person has desires. These are natural ...they're part of man's innate nature. Without desire there would be no motivating force in life; children wouldn't be produced and so forth! Yet many moralistic codes say that desires are 'bad.' Because of these unnatural codes, many people feel deep unhappiness and guilt about their desires. A person has many desires, but because society says 'this is wrong and sinful, that is right and good', he becomes very confused. He suppresses his desires. This mental suppression eventually expresses itself in disruption of the physical body, especially in the form of malfunctioning of the many organ systems. So accept your desires... they are perfectly natural. In time they can be transcended.

The same applies with food. May people feel that their eating habits are all wrong. This is probably true, for gone are the days when primitive man only took food when he was hungry; now we've food, generally too much and too rich, at fixed times during the day, whether we're hungry or not. But if you felt the need for a lot of food, it is better to indulge than to suppress. Suppression of guilt about one's eating habits will never solve anything. Many sadhakas feel such guilt about their eating that they develop a neurosis. Of course, over indulgence in food can also lead to malfunctioning of the digestive organs, but it is likely to be much less destructive and serious. Accept your eating habits ...but be aware. This is the way to whittle away unnatural food habits.

So, you can see that lack of self-acceptance leads to disease. Don't try to over-discipline the mind; saying it should be this or that, it should act in accordance with a certain code, will lead to suppression. Let the mind be free; let it do its own thing. But be aware. Don't suppress any thoughts. Accept your thoughts ...but be aware. In time all ill-harmonious tendencies will slowly wither away through greater understanding.

Every person is fit to tread the yogic path:

An important step in yoga is to accept your nature as much as you are able. If you can accept your nature, then surely others can. Your purpose for wanting to do yoga is not important; your religion or non-religion is not important; and your life style is also not important. The main thing is that you have started to do yoga with a degree of sincerity. Your nature is unimportant; all faults are unimportant. Your present personality is the starting point. Yoga and daily life experiences will be the means to refine your being and eventually bring harmony.

All people have the ability to contact elevated states of awareness. The potential lies within is not made or created but at present this potential does not express itself because of disharmony and conditioning of the mind. These blocks are only superficial superimpositions on your nature. Each of us has the same potential. There is not one person in the world who is unfit to tread the path of yoga. If you make the effort, you will start to tune in with yourself. But first of all accept yourself; accept your faults. These are merely superficial aspects of your being.

Accept your nature, whether it is 'bad' or 'good.' Don't feel guilt. Accept your character for what it is! ...a product of circumstances. Self- acceptance will lead to acceptance of others. Don't suppress thoughts, whatever their nature. Accept that there are unruly traits and desires within you. Eventually these disturbing traits will drop away. Let the hidden aspect of your sub-conscious mind rise to the surface. Don't fight them. Don't be ashamed of them. Let them arise and face them. If you suppress them they will still influence your whole life, but from the murky depths of the subconscious mind. So you might as well let them bubble to the surface where you can become familiar with them. Eventually you'll lose interest in them. They'll fade away and no longer disturb your life, in the same way that water evaporates from a damp cloth placed in the hot sun. The evaporation occurs without the slightest effort.

The aim of man should be to find his natural role (dharma) in life and stick to it. This is the basis of the spiritual path. Most people are on the path of adharma (in opposition to their natural inclinations). But you can never find and tread the path of dharma by non-acceptance of yourself. Non-acceptance only leads to neurosis and suppression. Accept your faults, but be aware. This is the way to find your dharma. This is the way to harmonize your life and eventually transcend all faults and personality problems.
Vijay Dandige (Nagpur, India)
Special Note: The views expressed by my friend are his own; I do not necessarily agree with all the points he has made. However, as his 'view-point' the article is most welcome, and in fact may stimulate discussion on such topics. Readers are welcome to send their opinions and comments.
C S Shah

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