founder of Arshya Vidya Gurukulam
Recently, I was fortunate to be able to attend a week of classes with Swami Dayananda, a traditional teacher of Vedanta, the school of philosophy teaching the essence of the Vedas. On the last day, Swamiji summed it all up, which I've paraphrased in the following paragraghs based on my notes:
The important thing is to be in harmony with 'what is.' 'What is' is God, Ishwara. Sanity is accepting 'what is.' As we grow in knowledge and wisdom, we grow in acceptance and we grow in sanity. The truth is that all is in order, all is God. We don't see this because of our false concepts of our own making. We see our past that we project onto the world. Therefore, more God is needed, more internal change is needed, more knowledge of reality is needed.
'What is' is perfect order. Nothing and no one is outside of this order. The important thing then is to give up resistance to 'what is.' Give up fear and anxiety. The best way to deal with fear is to welcome fear. Then you have no fear of fear, which is when you are truly free. When you recognize that all is a part of the order then you have true compassion and understanding. We naturally then practice ahimsa, not hurting others. We naturally follow the order of dharma.
Om is 'what is.' It's all of creation. Our meditation should be on that which sustains creation. This is Om, the word of God. The other important word is Namah which means "I surrender," "I give up all resistance." Namah invites the grace of God. Generally all mantras begin with Om and end with Namah. You can simply meditate by repeating, "Om Namah," which means, "I surrender to the order," "I surrender to what is," "I give up my resistance to what is." May the Lord's presence be, may grace be.
This was the essence of Swamiji's teaching, and the essence of Advaita Vedanta or the knowledge of non-duality. I was reminded of what Byron Katie, the author of Loving What Is, says. "All is God, all is Good. And that's that! Any story you add to that is the cause of your own suffering." Swamiji basically said the same thing in a different way.
Byron Katie, founder of The Work
How I interpret this teaching is that accepting 'what is' is a short cut to happiness. When we fight and resist what's happening, we not only have to deal with the cause of the stress, but we have the added stress of our own internal battle. It's doubly stressful. To judge that circumstances 'should be' different then they are is exhausting. It robs us of vital energy and our peace of mind, which is our most valuable resource.
Accepting 'what is' is not being passive bystanders in our lives. It's attending to what needs to be done, fulfilling our dharma and responsibilities as best we can, however without the added stress of our own resistance, judgments and annoyances.
Take this scenario: Your boss asks you to have a report ready by the following day, and you were not even finished with your current project. Astrologically you may be in a Saturn dasha with Saturn transiting over your Sun, and you're overwhelmed with responsibilities. The situation is what is given by the divine as your karma, which is reflected in the astrology chart. You either resist or you accept 'what is,' there are no other options. By practicing accepting 'what is' we free ourselves to flow with circumstances. We affirm that all is happening in perfect order, that this too is God. This attitude connects us with the divine amidst our busy lives. We regain the energy we would spend otherwise fighting a losing internal, and perhaps external battle, and most importantly we regain our peace of mind. This gives us the best chance to cope with every situation with 'sanity' as Swamiji would say.
"Act as if everything depended on you, but trust as if everything depended on God." - St. Ignatius