Archives for December 2006

The Paradox of Acceptance

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
Carl Rogers

Reflecting on the paradox of acceptance in addiction, or any other behaviour which one finds abhorrent in oneself (or in others, for that matter):

There is, in ‘Christianese’, a saying; “love the sinner, but not the sin”. To my mind this is a kind of crap out, as if you can divide a person up, separating the good parts from the bad, and accepting only the good. Its a bit like a cherry picking of the soul. There is no sin without the sinner. The sin and the sinner are one, we’re all filled with devils and angels. Take away the shadow and all you have is two-dimensions. People without shadows, insubstantial, are not to be trusted. Forgiveness, implying, as it does, the ‘original sin’ which Christian ethics takes as its starting point, is another well-worn Christian term which can also come out distorted unless a radical interpretation is applied to it.

In ‘Buddhistani’, ‘basic goodness’ is the starting point, and this is actually paralleled by another Christian ethos that ‘we are made in God’s image”. So, if we are ‘basically good’, and ‘made in God’s image’, then it’s easy enough to accept ourselves as we are. But evidently we are no longer either ‘basic’, nor have we stayed the way that we were ‘made’. Something happened since we were children and we’re all bent out of shape, and we live and breathe in a world all bent out of shape.

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