Acceptance: Radical Wisdom or a Fool’s Game?

We hear the word “acceptance” a lot in spiritual teachings and therapeutic settings. But what is it? Is it truly one of the most radical bits of wisdom here on earth or is it a fool’s game? Maybe the answer depends on what is meant by the word.

Let’s start out looking for acceptance with the Unfindable Inquiry. Is the word “acceptance” it? Look or listen to the word as it appears to awareness. No, that’s not the actual acceptance. That’s a word that seems to point to it. What is the word pointing to? Maybe there is a sensation that one feels somewhere in the body space when acceptance seems to be happening.

Yet if you take the word “acceptance” off the sensation and notice the sensation without any thoughts on it, it doesn’t present itself as acceptance. It presents itself as that immediate energy, that sensation. 

If you keep looking for acceptance, you won’t find it as a thing that exists apart from the words, mental pictures and emotions/sensations that arise.

So does that mean that we should discard the word since it is not findable? I say no, let’s not discard it. Everything is unfindable so we would be throwing out our whole language if we discarded everything we realized that we couldn’t find.

So what is the word here for? There are teachings that say nothing needs to be accepted because everything is already appearing and therefor already accepted. For example, let’s say you feel a knot in your stomach. It’s already appearing, whether you accept it with your mind or not. Fair enough. Yet not everyone lives from the “place” of realizing that everything is already appearing. If you live from the “place” where everything is truly seen to be already happening, you won’t need the word “acceptance” in your vocabulary. You will notice that life already accepts everything, including the thought “I don’t accept this.”

Most of us experience some sort of patterned resistance to things that are arising in the present moment. And yes, resistance is unfindable too as a separate thing. The knot in the stomach may arise along with a thought or another sensation that seems to resist or want to push the knot away. In those moments, acceptance can come in handy, as long as we don’t make it into a story of someone who needs to accept that knot. This is where it gets tricky for some folks.

If we say “I need to accept this knot,” we are imagining a self, an entity, behind the knot that must accept the knot. But where is that self? If you looked for it with the Unfindable Inquiry, you wouldn’t find that self as a separate thing. You would find an arising of thought here and maybe another sensation there, but no entity would be found.

So let’s throw out the idea of separate things like acceptance, resistance and a self and look at our experience differently. If we take out the idea of separate, discrete things, we have a series of arisings like a pattern. A thought arises, along with a second thought that judges it (i.e., that doesn’t accept the first thought). Or a sensation arises along with another sensation that seems to resist the first one. Or a sensation arises along with a thought that resists the sensation. If we look at our experience in terms of patterns of arisings, one after another, instead of being comprised of separate things, experience can become a lot clearer and you can experience a natural acceptance of all that arises.

Saying that everything is already arising or everything is already accepted puts the cart before the horse if that is not your actual experience. If your experience is that there is some sort of pattern of resistance whenever something painful arises, stop and notice what is actually happening. This is how acceptance starts to become really useful. Notice the thought or the sensation that seems to resist. Do nothing with that thought or sensation. Just notice it. Notice that it is already there. Notice that if you said “I accept this,” that thought is already there also. Notice that if you said “I don’t accept this,” that thought is also already there. A good way to talk about acceptance is to say that, when nothing is done about anything that is arising, everything seems already accepted. Once you say “I accept this” or “I don’t accept this” or “I am resisting” and you BELIEVE that thought, you also believe on some level that there is a self doing the accepting and resisting. That’s the tricky part. That’s when acceptance becomes a fool’s game. That’s when you think YOU have to accept everything.

But once you begin to see that every thought that is either for or against experience is already appearing, acceptance is already happening. There is no need to posit a self that is doing the accepting, for that would just be another thought that is already happening.

In that way, doing nothing but simply being conscious of everything that is arising is already acceptance. And when there is no consciousness of whatever is arising, do nothing with that. That is also already appearing. Just notice that there was no consciousness of it. This recognition does help us release the pattern of resistance that we have developed over a lifetime. This is where the instruction to accept everything is a useful bit of wisdom, when you are no longer positing a self that has to accept everything. You are just noticing a non-doing around everything that is already happening. This is when all those spiritual teachings about acceptance begin to make sense experientially. If you are struggling with TRYING to accept what is arising, you are positing a self (that cannot be found). That self is just a pattern of arisings, one after the other. It is not a discrete, separate entity doing the accepting.

If any of this seems overly intellectual, it just means you are trying to understand it. Stop and go back and read the paragraphs above. And each time I say “stop and notice that the thought is already happening” or “stop and notice that the sensation is already happening,” you will begin to see the wisdom in acceptance. And it is such a beautiful and radical way of being with experience. To do absolutely nothing with what arises is already acceptance. And when it seems you are trying to do something with what arises, do absolutely nothing with that.

Acceptance, in this way, has the power to transform all the patterns of resistance that we have been carrying for years.

This is the kind of acceptance that the Living Inquiries are all about. If you are using the Living Inquiries and find that you are trying to allow everything or trying to accept everything, take a look for that self. And then do nothing with what is arising. Be that radical!  Discover a kind of acceptance that seems built into your experience naturally.

"Working with Dan has been nothing short of transformational. His open heart, honesty about his personal experience and permission to be real and not hide have helped me unlock those qualities in myself. And that has been a total game changer. I've been truly blessed, not only to have him as my KI Facilitator, but also as my mentor. Without a doubt, working with him has helped me to show up authentically, helped sharpen my tools and made me a better facilitator than I would've been on my own. I can't recommend him enough."
Darby Totten
Certified KI Facilitator

Dan McLintock is a Certified Facilitator, Trainer and the Co-Developer of the Kiloby Inquiries method/approach the New Model of Recovery along w Scott Kiloby. 

A Jacksonville, Florida native, Dan graduated Flagler College in 2004 with B.A. in Theatre Arts and English Literature and has played music professionally in bands for over 20 years. But his true passion lies in sharing the context, possibility and practicality of healing, awakening and release. 

Dan has worked one-on-one with clients in and out of the Kiloby Center since 2017 and has an unconditionally loving and earnest approach to healing trauma, dissolving the drivers of addiction/suffering and unhooking long-held toxic beliefs about ourselves, others and the world at large. 

He’s also worked intensively, side-by-side with Scott Kiloby for the past three years to develop the transformative tools of the Kiloby Inquiries as well as the principles and approach of the “New Model of Recovery” rooted in unconditional love and non-judgment. Much of this approach was borne out of Scott and Dan’s work with each other on their own personal traumas as well as their work with clients at the Kiloby Center. 

Scott and Dan have simplified, demystified and condensed some of the principles and practices of eastern/non-dual spirituality into an easily accessible set of tools most anyone can understand, learn and utilize to free themselves from their own suffering. 

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Valerie Vinger is a thriving survivor of life’s painful challenges and growth opportunities. She has worked with 12-step programs and is currently a 13-year stage-III cancer survivor. Her cancer recovery journey started with the traditional “cut, poison, burn” approach but eventually led her down a natural path to healing her body, her pain and suffering, and her buried emotions.

Valerie first stumbled upon Scott Kiloby at a workshop of his in Boulder, Colorado in 2012, which she says is one of the most transformative experiences she’s ever had. She is filled with gratitude for the person she has become through her journey with cancer recovery and with the Inquiries, which she describes as “coming home to myself.” She loves working with people who are ready for relief from their pain and suffering.

Julianne Eanniello is a Certified Trainer and Facilitator of both the Kiloby Inquiries and the Unfindability Inquiries (formerly called the Living Inquiries). She is also a Certified TRE Practitioner, and the developer of the somatic movement process called Natural Flow Movement. She works with clients all over the world on virtually any topic, including spiritual seeking, stress, anxiety, depression, pain and health related issues, traumatic experiences, repression, relationship issues, and general unhappiness with ourselves and our lives. She does this through online sessions, deepening courses, workshops and facilitator certification training.

About Julianne:

For most of my life I’ve wondered who I am and why I am here. As I was growing up, no one else seemed to be talking about these things, or even thinking about them, so I buried it deep inside and tried my best to fit in the way I was “supposed” to, all the while feeling like there was something desperately wrong with me and that I needed to fix it.

In my early thirties, the death of a young relative left me feeling hopeless and helpless, wondering what is the point of life if we’re all just going to die anyway? This launched me on a search. I didn’t even know what I was looking for, I just knew that there was a longing – a desperate longing for something that actually made sense about life. I learned several alternative spiritual and healing techniques. I meditated. I read books and watched videos. I eventually learned of non-duality teachings, and I read more books, watched more videos, and even sat with several ‘awakened’ teachers. Yet I was still searching, something still felt missing. I was looking for the key that would unlock the mystery of me and of life.

In my early forties, I developed a chronic health condition that left me unable to work for several years, and most days barely able to get out of bed due to extreme fatigue, brain fog and pain. I lost my banking job, and eventually lost my home. I saw a multitude of doctors to try to find out what was wrong with me, and used every tool in my metaphysical and alternative medicine toolkit to try to heal myself. My seeking became even more intense, and I was looking for a way to escape my pain.

In 2009, I met Scott Kiloby. Since I started working with him and doing the Living Inquiries, the seeking for enlightenment has stopped, and the question of ‘who am I’ is no longer relevant. My victim stories around my health started falling away. Once I started looking at my experience through inquiry, everything changed. I stopped chasing something ‘out there.’ I no longer seek some future state of happiness or peace. This is not to say that I don’t have problems, or ever experience pain. Quite the contrary. I still use the inquiries regularly, and now there is much less avoidance or resistance to what I’m experiencing. I experience more and more freedom in the present moment, exactly as it appears.

Having trained with Scott, I was one of the first to be certified as a Senior Living Inquiries Facilitator and Trainer in early 2012. In 2014, I moved to CA and became a business partner with Scott at The Kiloby Center for Recovery, where we worked with people suffering from addiction, anxiety, depression and more for the next 8 years.

I can’t imagine my life without these inquiries. They saved me from myself. If you are still suffering, searching, longing… I encourage you to give this a try.

As a young child I saw a picture of Jesus gazing lovingly at some children around his feet. I immediately longed for the unconditional love I saw in his gaze. At the same time, I was being read fairy tales, like Cinderella, and came to believe that romantic love would satisfy that longing for love.

So, I married my handsome prince at age 19. But then, by age 29, I found myself alone, as a single mother, with four young children. I was devastated and convinced that something was terribly wrong with me, to have ended up in such a predicament. 

I had learned to love and please others, but not how to love and respect myself. I was a “good girl,” and repressed my urges to have my own needs acknowledged and met. A wise teacher later told me, “We need to love everyone, including ourselves.” This was an amazing revelation for me!

Learning to meditate helped immensely to bring moments of peace, while I was sitting still, though I was still being triggered regularly in my relationships. Finally, the Kiloby Inquiries taught me how to turn my attention inside in daily life – towards the trapped thoughts and emotions I’d been running from – so that I could face and release them. It was like some tender, lost children began coming home, to take their rightful place in my inner world. 

I am honored and excited to be able to facilitate these wonderful inquiries for others.

Sumitra lives on the Hawaiian island of Kauai with some of her family. She has four grown children and six grandchildren. For many years she lived and worked in a yoga retreat community in California, and has taught yoga, meditation and Compassionate Communication in addition to facilitating the tools of the Kiloby Inquiries (since 2013).

Sumitra also loves working with couples and others with relationship challenges in a simple (though not always easy) deep listening practice that allows each person to be truly heard and acknowledged.

Alina is a certified KI facilitator & a founder of Presence Alchemy – An advance mindfulness platform dedicated to liberating suffering & limiting core beliefs through Kiloby Inquiries & non-dual awareness. Presence Alchemy was born eight years into Alina’s embodiment journey of an inner shift from ego to wakefulness. Alina works one-on-one with clients, hosts online intensives and training, and organizes local retreats & workshops.
Alec Rodrigues has been certified to facilitate inquiry since 2015 and brings a keen sense of intuition to his work. He believes that in connection, the deepest healing takes place, that the mirror of relationship is the best crucible for transformation. Through rest and inquiry, Alec has found the empowerment to meet others authentically and stop running so damn fast from the seeming “ordinariness” of life.

He currently lives in Washington state with his girlfriend and works as a training assistant for the KI Personal Mentorship Program, where he empowers enrollees by teaching them the KI tools.