The Practice of Acceptance

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Though there are occasions when a firm hand is needed, I learned early that one of the most important qualities of a leader is listening without judgment, or with what Buddhist call bare attention.

In The Tao of Leadership, John Heider writes:

The wise leader is of service, yielding, following. The group member’s vibration dominates and leads, while the leader follows. But soon it is the member’s consciousness which is transformed. It is the job of the leader to be aware of the group member’s process; it is the need of the group member to be received and paid attention to. Both get what they need if the leader has the wisdom to serve and follow.

In Zen it is said that the gap between accepting things the way they are and wishing them to be otherwise is “the tenth of an inch of difference between heaven and hell”. If we can accept whatever hand we’ve been dealt – no matter how unwelcome – the way to proceed eventually becomes clear. This is what is meant by right action: the capacity to observe what’s happening and act appropriately, without being distracted by self-centered thoughts. If we rage and resist, our angry, fearful minds have trouble quieting down sufficiently to allow us to act in the most beneficial way for ourselves and others.

Phil Jackson

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Think Things Over

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Think things over, especially those that are most important. All fools come to grief from lack of thought. They never see even the half of things and, as they do not observe their own loss or gain, still less do they apply any diligence to them. Some make much of what matters little and little of much, always weighing in the wrong scale. Many never lose their common sense, because they have none to lose. There are matters that should be observed with the closest attention, and thereafter always kept well in mind. The wise person thinks over everything, but with a difference, most profoundly where there is some profound difficulty, suspecting that perhaps there is more in it than he first thought. Thus his comprehension extends as far as his apprehension.

Baltasar Gracian