Shundo Aoyama

‘Happiness that depends on what you acquire or become is only conditional happiness, not true happiness. No matter what happens, it is all right. If you become ill, then just be ill; if you are poor, then just be poor. Unless you accept your present circumstances, happiness cannot be attained. To face any situation and accept it with open arms if it cannot be avoided molds the attitude enabling you to see that such a wonderful way of living is possible. That is indeed something of consequence. As soon as this attitude is achieved, you have reached paradise, anytime, anywhere, and in any circumstances.’ (Zen Seeds)

I know people read passages like this and take it to mean quietude, passively accepting whatever, not reaching for anything, but I think it is a little more subtle than that. In my experience, understanding the limits of what you can control, and accepting the reality of what is happening is a way to real freedom. Ultimately, we will all have to do that when we are face to face with death.

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