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26th July, 2022

The Dewa Sanzan is a little-known mountain range in northern Japan.

Since the 8th century, it has been the sacred pilgrimage site for the Yamabushi monks who partake in yearly rituals seeking rebirth and enlightenment for their mind, body, and soul.

The core philosophy of their training can be summed in one word, ‘Uketamo,’ which means “I humbly accept with an open heart.”

Here’s how it works:

You’re about to lose your job? Uketamo.

The forecast suddenly changed to downpour rain and now you must cancel your outdoor event? Uketamo.

Your best friend gets married, and you feel your relationship with them will never be the same. Uketamo.

You had a very silly accident and now you’ve fractured your left leg and are due to be in a cast for the next month? Uketamo.

‘Uketamo’ means acceptance to the core.

The Yamabushi understood that the sooner you can accept all the good and bad things life throws at you, the lighter you will feel.

They fathomed that we find our freedom through acceptance, and out of acceptance, we find our path to growth.

What freedom? The freedom to stop all forms of suffering.

What growth? The opportunity to learn and expand from our own struggles.

You see, we tend to assume that Zen is about living in an endless worry-free state of bliss and tranquillity.

Here’s a reality check: it’s not.

Zen is about how you face the challenges and difficulties life throws at you.

It’s about how you deal with the inevitable realities of failure, grief, worry, and loneliness.

Zen is in your response.

Will you accept the imperfect flow of life? Or will you fight it?

Will you find peace in what is right here, right now? Or will you deny it and thus continue your struggle with it?

The idea is quite simple: As you continue to resist, so will you continue to compound your suffering.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed or have an itch that just can’t get scratched, try ‘Uketamo’ and stay blessed forever.