Unconditional Friendliness

Radical Acceptance:  Enhancing your Life with the Heart of the Buddha (pp 73-92)

“It doesn’t feel like anything is wrong”

Radical Acceptance is “clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind, and loving heart.”  When we look deeply and see something that we don’t like about ourselves, we can easily slip into the trance of unworthiness.  We have a feeling of unpleasantness and our perception of something is wrong can cause negative thoughts to arise.  We get stuck in the loop.

Remembering the power of the sacred pause we can come back to radical acceptance and look again at what is now happening inside us and keep an open kind and loving heart.  This is unconditional friendliness.  We recognize that we are suffering and we feel compassion for ourselves.

Keeping up the inquiry

Once we pause and meet whatever is happening inside us with unconditional friendliness, we can investigate it.  Investigation is the second factor of awakening.  Once we become mindful of what is, we take a deep look at our suffering: We do this by:

  1. Noting any sensations arising in the body.
  2. Noting any thoughts, perceptions or memories arising and seeing if they are accompanied by any:
  • Judgement about the issue
  • Commentary on the issue
  • Decision-making to resolve the issue.
  1. If we notice judgement, commentary or decision-making, we just notice that that is what is happening.

We are just mindful of what arises.  With unconditional friendliness, we keep in mind that nothing is wrong.  Whatever is happening is just “real life.”  This is the spirit of Radical Acceptance.

The diagram below illustrates Gaining Freedom from the trance by choosing to pause and practicing Radical Acceptance in the spirit of Unconditional Friendliness (nothing is wrong).  By following the first three factors of Awakening, we can experience joy, tranquility, concentration and equanimity.  This leads to freedom from the trance.

Gaining Freedom

Saying “Yes” to life

Practice purposely pausing during regular activities and times of stress.  “Rather than running away, we need only commit ourselves to arriving, here and now, with wholehearted presence.”

Brach notes:  “We bring alive the spirit of Radical Acceptance when, instead of resisting emotional pain, we are able to say yes to our experience. Pat Rodegast (representing the teachings of Emmanuel) writes, “So walk with your heaviness, saying yes. Yes to the sadness, yes to the whispered longing. Yes to the fear. Love means setting aside walls, fences, and unlocking doors, and saying yes … one can be in paradise by simply saying yes to this moment.” The instant we agree to feel fear or vulnerability, greed or agitation, we are holding our life with an unconditionally friendly heartSaying yes does not mean approving of angry thoughts or sinking into any of our feelings. We are not saying yes to acting on our harmful impulses. Nor are we saying yes to external circumstances that can hurt us: If someone is treating us abusively, certainly we must strongly say no and create intelligent boundaries to protect ourselves in the future. Even in that instance, however, we can still say yes to the experience of fear, anger or hurt that is arising inside us. Yes is an inner practice of acceptance in which we willingly allow our thoughts and feelings to naturally arise and pass away.”


  • Reread this talk and reflect on it.  Can you say yes that whatever is happening and know that nothing is wrong?


  • Meditate as usual in your daily practice with concentration and mindfulness.

Next: Coming Home to Our Body Previous: The Sacred Pause