by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Chapter 14
The "No" That Saves

"No" is as good an answer as "Yes."

--Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett

Discerning and Entrusting

I can think of many times and situations in my life in which I had--or thought I had--a pretty clear idea of what would be best, and in which events took a very different course. Sometimes I was stubborn and tried to make things happen in accordance with my wishes through exerting more effort, yet the actual course of events proved to be even more stubborn, and eventually I had to let go of my insistence.

Looking back now on these situations, I see that things always worked out for my good. In remembering some particular instances, I am now very glad indeed that my wishes were not fulfilled: I may have been confused at times, but the Eternal is never confused. It is as if I was unknowingly being steered closer to the Eternal by the seeming obstacles that I encountered.

I say "seeming obstacles" because the "No" from the Eternal is not really an obstacle. There are obstacles that we must overcome through sincere effort: the "No" from the Eternal is not one of these.

It is amazing how rapidly we can look down in response to a "No!" What is needed is to bow--if possible, with the body, but certainly with mind and heart. The bow lets some light in, giving us a chance to discern that, while "No" may not be the answer we were looking for, it is still an answer. In other words, "No" does not mean that Cosmic Compassion has abandoned us; it only means that, in some way that we may not quite see at the moment, we have been barking up the wrong tree, and Cosmic Compassion is steering us in a better direction. Once we discern this, we can entrust the whole matter to the Eternal with the quiet certainty that all will be turned to Good.--What a relief!


Not infrequently, the problem that we have thus entrusted to the Eternal is still one that we must live with. This is an aspect of the working out of karma. Yet having so entrusted it changes our attitude: acceptance replaces insistence; patience replaces impulsiveness. And now there is greater objectivity--"detachment" may be a better word--in the contemplation of possible courses of future action.

Patient waiting is not spiritual inactivity. It can be very hard work at times. Yet its benefits are great, for it grounds us in our True Nature and prepares us for truly hearing the Voice of the Heart, and for following the Eternal willingly and gladly when It leads us beyond the waiting.

The Wish-Fulfilling Gem

The more quickly we discern and accept a genuine "No," the less energy and effort will have been invested in going in a false direction. Yet bowing to a true "No" does more that save us a lot of grief. It can open the door to deeper spirituality. For the willingness to bow to a true "No" expresses the willingness--indeed, the longing--to put the Eternal above all things.

Thus, the Wish-Fulfilling Gem manifests right within the confused probings into the unknown that characterize the ordinary life of human beings. Whether the answer from the Eternal be "Yes" or "No," our willingness to bow to that answer will always lead us in the direction of the fulfillment of the deepest longing of the heart.




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