“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian, 1892-1971
That classic quote speaks to one of the most important things we have to learn as human beings. When to fight. And when to take acceptance to the deepest level of surrender.
I touched on this dilemma as it is reflected in the various Yogas or Paths back on Battle to Surrender.
In some ways we could say there is the battle of the ego usurper followed by the surrender to the divine. But this choice continues to show up at various stages in our journey.
The Bhagavad Gita is the classic battle story, where the journey of enlightenment is told over the battle to destroy evil.
“There are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization, however imperfect, against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr
Gandhi and Martin Luther King on the other hand exemplified non-violent resistance. A battle of wills, of non-compliance. A new choice in a new time. Taking a higher ground. But that only works if the moral compass of a community is high enough.
As we cross the center line, you find tolerance. Then acceptance. At the end of the spectrum is Surrender. Even there on the battlefield, Arjuna surrendered to Krisna.
Recently, I spoke with an enlightened teacher about the wisdom we can use in applying wisdom. Wisdom alone can be clumsy if not applied with wisdom. They agreed but said that they still saw a battle is necessary. Walking in the shoes of Gandhi will bring great benefit but we need our warriors too.
This illustrates the choices we will be faced with. Getting clear within, then choosing to allow the divine to have her way with us. But standing up against the dark side. Jesus preached love and peace but overthrew the tables of the money-changers in the temple.
This is standing for peace, whatever is called for. Both are bringing direct attention and intention for the higher good. One to clear the way, the other to open the way.
The spiritual journey is thus not a wishy-washy path of mood making. It is learning what we have worth standing up for. When to push back and create change. And when to open the hand and let go.
This is the journey of life. Stepping into the light and bringing light to the shadows. Put another way, these are balancing the male and female aspects of wholeness in the unity of inclusivity.
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