“Thank you God”

23Nov09

Something that I have been mulling over lately, and indeed experimenting with quite a bit, as well, as of late: acceptance. Acceptance and surrender, are of course, the themes of voluminous treatises on religion and spirituality. In fact, many would have it that the main teaching to be gotten in this life is that of acceptance of how things are, or to put it in theistic terms, surrendering to God’s will.

Those ideas have always struck me as being not only of a decidedly paradoxical and counter-intuitive bent, but also as seeming distinctly unpalatable (as, from ego’s perspective, anyhow, much or most of the spiritual path inevitably appears to be). What kind of “teachings” are those, anyways? DUH, things suck, all around, terribly… of course I want to CHANGE them, and lickety-split, in as many ways as possible! And please don’t talk to me about surrendering to God’s will. Why on earth should I surrender to that cosmic asshole who sits back as children starve to death and countless other variants and multiplicities of abominations of suffering take place under his fucking watch? In that sense, worshiping or even merely respecting God is something like trusting a babysitter who gets high on PCP while you leave your kids with him/her.

All of that bile aside, over the past year or so, the ideas of acceptance and surrender have increasingly come to occupy prominent places in my mind and in my approach to spirituality. I suppose this began in part while reading an interview with David Godman which can be found on his website (here, towards the bottom of the page). At one point he mentions that he had read a book written by a Christian woman entitled “Thank You God”. The book concerns a woman whose husband was an alcoholic. For years the woman prayed to God to help her husband stop drinking, but her prayers seemed to go unanswered. Upon hearing of the approach of thanking God for whatever dispensations come one‘s way, she actually began to thank God for making her husband an alcoholic, until she eventually felt a genuine sense of inner gratitude for the situation. Following this change in her approach, lo and behold, her husband actually stopped drinking on his own. In the interview, Godman follows up this story by recounting instances in his life in which seemingly insurmountable problems spontaneously resolved themselves after he took a similar tack, in, as he puts it, “an astonishing testimonial to the power of loving acceptance”.

Anyhow, I highly recommend reading that portion of the interview and perhaps experimenting with that technique, if one hasn’t already done so…

Now, as I stated above, I recognize of course that this sort of idea is certainly nothing new, and although it may seem radical to the ego, it isn’t particularly a radical idea within even the most mainstream of religious traditions. “Not my will but Thine”; “let go and let God”; surrendering to Allah*; the idea of all things happening or not happening purely as a result of God’s grace; always accepting His dispensation which stems from his infinite wisdom and mercy, etc.– these are all fairly fundamental ideas which I suppose are familiar to most of us.

*The word Islam is derived from an Arabic word whose meaning is “to accept, surrender, or submit”.

[to be continued!]

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