Many people find it difficult to accept the basic human drives that are part of our makeup. We have sexual drives, food desires and so on. Many people develop complexes about these drives and feel that these urges or instincts are dirty or animalistic, usually after having been convinced of this by people whom they respect, but who have their own mental problems. Try to accept your drives as being a natural facet of human life. Recognize that they are not totally separate from, or antagonistic to life. The more you accept your drives the less you will be bothered or disturbed by them.
Try not to feel guilty about past events. Many people are continually overwhelmed by feelings of regret and guilt for past actions and experiences. Forget the past – it is finished. Live in the present. That which has happened is finished, so why worry about it? Use it only as a reference. Shakespeare with such simplicity vet depth of understanding summed up this attitude when he said: “What’s gone and what’s past, should be past grief.” This also applies to mistreatment that you have received. If you feel continual resentment, then this is a disturbing factor which makes your life unhappy and tension-ridden. Try to drop this resentment – let bygones be bygones. If you don’t, then it will continue to disrupt your life and the lives of those around you. Although this may seem easier said than done, at least consider dropping these grudges. If past resentments have taken a hold on your life and are deeply imprinted on your memory, then of course they are more difficult to remove. But they can, and will be removed if you persevere with meditational practices. It is only a matter of time. This conscious consideration of your grudges is the first step.
Practise the suggestions that we have given, and you are on the path to total self-acceptance. At first it may be on a superficial level, but this is the beginning of self-acceptance in a much deeper sense. Automatically, you will find that as you come to accept yourself, you will start to accept others, regardless of their faults. You will begin to realize that most people act in the way they do only in order to be acceptable and worthwhile both to themselves and others. This applies to people who behave in the most bizarre manner; though their actions seem totally unrealistic, it is merely their way, however inadequate and strange, of coming to terms with themselves and their surroundings. Increasingly you will realize this and learn to accept others for what they are, and this will help others to accept you. This increased awareness is a positive approach to bringing about harmony in your life, both in the internal and external worlds.
Total self-acceptance comes with the advent of higher knowledge and understanding. It is possible to totally accept one’s personality without the slightest qualification or reservation. When one lives in a state of meditation it is impossible not to accept oneself and others. But to attain this experience, and to continually live it, you must make a positive attempt now. The first step is to apply consciously what we have just discussed. This should be supplemented by meditational and other yoga practices, which we will discuss in the following lesson1. In this way, one will gradually eradicate mental problems and become more tolerant of oneself and others.