Ukeireru: the Japanese art of acceptance

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For the traditional Japanese culture, the concept of acceptance is a fundamental pillar. There are in fact many Japanese words that we would translate with the term “acceptance”. However, the most interesting is ukeireru , which has a particular nuance. It is a philosophy, a way of life. Acceptance of life for what it is, not for what we would like it to be .

Recognizing that something bad has happened or is happening can be relatively simple, but accepting it is another thing entirely. For example, most people (probably) agree that we are living with the dire consequences of a global pandemic, but not everyone is accepting it to the point of agreeing with recommended public health measures or the restrictions put in place by the government.

Living in a society, such as the Western one, where individualism is celebrated, makes it difficult to unconditionally accept anything outside oneself. And the possibility of living happily seems to be slipping more and more out of our reach. But without this inner peace, every day of our life seems to be at the mercy of what happens or will happen. This is a source of stress and makes us live in constant apprehension for the days to come.

Following the practice of ukeireru , you are invited to focus on self-acceptance, acceptance of events and people around him. Ukeireru means accepting reality and create contexts that broaden the narrow, limiting and exhausting perspective of the self.

Once you have learned to accept what surrounds you as it is, you can then observe the world from another perspective, and to understand that one is only a part of the whole. The basis of this practice lies in accepting not having any control over everything that happens : trying to minutely control one’s life leads to a cycle of existential unhappiness and fatigue.

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