Acceptance According to Zen

I remember reading a story about a Zen Master, who was accused of impregnating a young girl.  The girl had gone to her parents, adamant that the Zen Master was the father of her unborn child.  When accused, the Zen Master’s response was, “is that so?”  Upon the birth of the child, the parents, blinded with rage, abandoned the child into the care of the Zen Master. The Zen Master clothed, fed, sheltered, and cared for the child.  As the days and weeks went by, his reputation in the village and beyond was destroyed.  One day, the young girl could take it no longer.  Tears in her eyes, she revealed a village boy as the father of her child.  The parents, filled with shame and embarrassment, ran to the Zen Master with gifts and apologies.  The parents took the child from the Zen Master’s arms and went home.  Once again, the wise man’s response was, “is that so?”

According to Eckhart Tolle, the moral of the story is:  “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. 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.”

Of course, being that the man in the story was a Zen Master that line of thinking would come much easier for him.  For the rest of us, it may not be so easy. The Zen Master’s plight makes me reflect on my own struggles with acceptance, whether it be in regards to lupus or other facets of my life.  It also makes me think about the art of warding off stress, the act of strengthening those “mind muscles” that will allow you to get through trying life events healthy and unaffected.

I am seeing now that the decline of my health had a lot to do with taking lupus personally, of merging the disease with who I am.  It wasn’t until this last flare-up that I realized the importance of separating one’s self from the illness or as the story states, from “what has happened.”  I think it’s the key to survival, to moving forward, and most importantly, to keeping yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy.

I suppose the old adage holds true:  “It isn’t what happens to you, it’s how you deal with it that matters.”  We all have choices to make in this life and I’ve spent too much of mine not dealing with my reality.  I’ve never felt brave enough till now.

In other news, I just emailed a potential naturopath to help me in my “Cooking for the Wolf” adventures.  I’m interested in hearing what she has to say about lupus and nutrition.  It’s full steam ahead to keep Evil P out the door for good!

Five Stages & The Written Pledge

Lupus: Hi.  You’re sick… for the rest of your life.

Response #1

You think I’m sick now, just watch me overwork myself and do too much to prove to you that I’m not sick!

Response #2

You stole the “rest of my life!!!”

Response #3

How much longer is the “rest of my life??”

Response #4

My life is over.

Response #5

Being sick has taught me how to live.


They say there are five distinct stages of accepting an illness: denial, anger, fear, grief and of course, acceptance. For me, it’s always in flux.  There are times when I experience all five of these stages in one day, sometimes in the span of one hour. Even after nine years, my road to acceptance is ongoing, it’s long, and it takes me backwards as much as it does forward.  I am, however, in a place where I am finally ready to do some things to increase my quality of life in the moment vs. worrying about what it will be like in the future.

In my last post, I started talking about one of the things I am doing right now to increase my quality of life.  In my upcoming posts, I will be sharing more about why I think dance class, art class, writing and learning to cook with/for people will help me live better now and, hopefully, help me deal better with future flare-ups. Let me make myself clear – this ain’t no self-help preach fest.  This isn’t a “how to accept lupus” in four simple steps.  It’s just one person trying to make goals and make herself accountable after so many years of doing NOTHING.  Your presence, dear reader, will keep me honest and committed.  Of course, as my long time readers and keepers should expect, general ridiculousness shall ensue, some of which I hope to capture on video and post here.  Yes, I actually just said that…

Oh, crap.