My Problem With Nonresistance...

by Paul
(Norfolk UK)



Not surprisingly I, like many people struggle with the idea of non resistance which I assume is the same as acceptance of the moment. I have written a few words to illustrate the problem I am having with the concept. 


...Firstly it is difficult to 'accept' when we know that torture and rape etc. are happening right now. Acceptance seems like turning our backs on these things without compassion. Is it possible or even desirable to feel at peace with the knowledge that the people that you love, or even people that you don't know are suffering horribly.
There seems to be a great deal of acceptance already in society. Homelessness could not occur without mass acceptance. With such a terrible thing being the result of acceptance I cannot see how I can accept things as they are. I understand that 'things are as they are'. I accept that this is true but that is as far as I get.

I have been meditating a long time. I have been interested in this sort of thing for a long time but I don't see this question come up. It is more common to hear people talking about accepting their own problems. Is this all we can do? 

Any thoughts. I have been struggling with this one for a long time? I would be grateful to hear your opinion. I suspect there is a fundamental misunderstanding on my part.

Thank you for offering help.


Acceptance does not mean non-action. It just means being moved by life, rather than fighting against it. If there was some emergency situation, acceptance or resistance do not even tend to come into it. There is no time for interpretations. Action just takes place. It may be mixed with fear or rage or defence, but little/no thinking is involved, no deliberating, and so action is quite natural. Then it is over.

If a loved one is experiencing pain near you, it is not like you should be aiming to feel free or untouched by it. If the pain is there and there is nothing that can be done to relieve it, then seeing the futility of resisting it on your own part may help to heal the situation to some degree. Pain is at its most awful when there is strong resistance to it, then it feels like an inescapable cage that someone is fighting to escape, but never can.

I would not say it is necessarily true that homelessness is due to acceptance. It depends what we mean by acceptance. On the one hand, yes, there is not a mass uprising to end homelessness and therefore not tolerate it, but people not having homes could be said to have many different reasons, which is a whole other topic. 

I will say again, acceptance does not mean non-action. If someone wanted to give more people food and shelter, they could work from a place of non-resistance rather than feeling as if they are fighting against the world. Perhaps non-resistance may be a better term, since acceptance can be interpreted in different ways. Without resisting what is, action can take place to bring about useful or positive change, but without the feeling of continuous struggle inside.

The acceptance you talk about is not anything to do with interpreting the world and then resigning yourself to that interpretation e.g “people around the world are suffering, I just have to accept that.” It is the immediate now, not thoughts of what may be happening elsewhere. If you are alone and are troubled by other people elsewhere being in pain, then do something to stop it if you can. If you can do nothing about it, then creating more suffering inside yourself does no good at all. It only adds more suffering to the world. See how much the inner resistances help situations, or if these resitances just keep you feeling negative.

Of course it may well happen that you feel another’s pain as if it is your own. In this case, fighting against it does not heal it. It just solidifies it.

But this all still sounds as if you have not given it a chance. Perhaps the mind is still buying time, saying “how can I be at peace in such a painful world?”. Does not being at peace make the world less painful? Does inner turmoil serve the world in any way to become more balanced or free?

It is not about framing reality into a thought, saying “this is happening” and then accepting that this thought is the way things are. It is allowing the immediate content of experience to be as it already is. This means not limiting reality into a personal interpretation. Then action happens, or it may not.

I hope that will help in some way, thanks for your question,



Comments for My Problem With Nonresistance...

(from previous website)

Aug 22, 2015
Response to your answer. NEW
by: Paul

Hello Adam. 

Thank you so much for your very considered answer. I think that I had problems sorting this one out because of the strong emotions that it provoked. 
I do have a partner who is experiencing emotional and physical pain although it is not quite as horrific as the hypothetical example that I gave. This sometimes makes me question my apparent 'navel gazing' even though I have benefited in very practical ways from it, and I am sure it has made me easier to live with. 

Your answer is great. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer in such detail. I would not usually expect someone to put aside so much time. Some of what you have said has made things much clearer immediately, and there is also plenty to ponder on. I have asked quite a few people this question and you are the first to reply in a clear and useful way. 

Thanks again Adam. You have helped a lot. 


Aug 22, 2015
Paul NEW
by: Adam -

Hi Paul, 

Thanks for your response, glad the answer could help in some way. 

All the best,