In our gatherings, we have the opportunity to look at what is — what’s present, what’s happening, what’s coming up. Not because we want to figure it out, but simply because it is what’s coming up. It doesn’t need to be understood, or figured out — it is what it is, whether or not we understand it. But as our condition is expressed, it’s recognized, acknowledged. Accepted.

But there are different kinds of acceptance. There’s psychological acceptance, which, while often helpful, is still fundamentally ego-based; but then there’s profound acceptance, which is simply being what is. When there’s no more separation, there’s no more “me” vs. “my experience”, “me” vs. “my problems”, or my issues, my needs, etc. There’s simply this, what’s happening here and now.

But it’s not about exerting effort to accept or be accepting, or about trying to “be what is”. As Jean Klein said, every step towards it is a step away from it. I often quote the Zen instruction, “move towards what’s difficult;” but that movement isn’t a doing. It’s not a willed thing. It’s not even really something that can be taught. From a mental perspective, this is all entirely paradoxical — if the mind tries to wrap itself around these ideas, it just gets all tangled up. But that’s ok! Eventually the mind gets tired and gives up, and the heart opens, naturally and effortlessly.

The role of the teacher is really just to point out and acknowledge that opening as it appears, so that gradually you can find out how to allow moving towards to happen by itself. You get to discover that you have the opportunity to become so much more intimate with your experience. And you can miss it so easily, you can miss that opportunity. It’s very, very subtle, but when you really drop in, you know it.

People often mistake this experience for a state they can try to hold on to, a kind of euphoria or high. But it’s not anything like that; it’s actually amazingly, breathtakingly ordinary. It’s just the simple essence of what we are! Of course the ego wants to grab onto it as an experience and make it happen again, repeat it endlessly if it can. But in reality it’s unrepeatable—you can’t repeat what’s always present. That’s its nature.