The First Stone

July 17, 2013 § 25 Comments

The Master sees things as they are,

without trying to control them.

She lets them go their own way,

and resides at the center of the circle.

Tao te Ching

I spent much of my life in rage at the unredeemed world.  And I tried in countless ways to control those around me, to shape their lives and choices.  I could not simply accept things as they were.  I could not accept that others needed to choose for themselves.

But the world spun on. And those I cared about made choices that sometimes came crashing in on them.  I failed, I thought.  Failed to bring forth meaningful change.  Failed to protect my family and those I loved.

To accept things as they are sounds weak and passive.  Giving up without a fight.

But acceptance is the simple recognition that you cannot control others and you cannot control what will come.  This recognition frees us to focus all our will and all our energy, all of our being, on the one thing that truly belongs to us.  Ourselves.

And with that focus you become strength embodied.  You exist and move through the world with the boundless power of presence.  You reside at the center of the circle.

Acceptance is the first stone on our path.

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§ 25 Responses to The First Stone

  • Casey says:

    As a not-quite-so young woman in the somewhat early years of mothering, who was once a very intractable young lady, I am always keeping in mind that my children have their own journeys to make and my efforts to control them routinely backfire.

    I don’t usually know what TO do, but I often find out pretty quick what doesn’t work out so well.

    It took me MUCH, MUCH longer to realize the controlling I had attempted to do with other adults (in particular my husband) with whom I had less grace and patience with.

    What we do in the name of ‘love’ and ‘caring’ is not always so loving and caring when we are trying to protect others from the challenges of life and take away their opportunities for growth.

    I recently read a quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn:

    “Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.”

    Isn’t that a liberating thought?

    Every interaction is my practice of giving up control of people and outcomes and even my own internal experience.

    I’m finding your writing is very poignant and beautiful and authentic. Thank you for sharing from your soul.

  • It been a while since I’ve read Toa. This encourages me to resurrect my books and read them again. I do love how you’ve framed your thoughts. It is so true. 😊

  • BeingMama says:

    I love Taoism. I read so much of it in my twenties but it wasn’t until recently that I was truly able to let go of things and be like the water over the stone. Truly accept that which is beyond my control and experience the lightness in that. Peace to you, Tom. Another lovely read.

  • potterfan97 says:

    Tom, this was a wonderful reminder. Thank you for your uplifting posts, they are such a bright spot in my day 🙂

  • Thanks Thomas….this all sounds very familiar, especially now as I go through separation….

  • Wonderful post about something very important. I love the opening quote. Somehow I feel myself relax into it and breath possibility. I wrote about acceptance recently, and thought you might appreciate the post:

  • dadirri7 says:

    had a wonderful conversation with my husband (a leader and educator in many fields) about this post tom … gave him a chance to express his frustration with stupidity and admit how it irks him … he is perhaps in the centre but with arms outspread, being hit now and then by what whizzes past 🙂

  • Baldeep Kaur says:

    I feel the same at times when i feel i know what is right for the other person and have to helplessly watch the other person pick the wrong option.

    I do not want people close to me fall. I know it hurts when you fall.

    I want things to change, improve & evolve. Now i have decided to put in efforts where people want it. Help those who want to helped.

    • Thomas Ross says:


      I’m trying to be present, open, and ready with those I love. Making them know and feel that I am with them.

      It’s a struggle.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and to leave your thoughtful message.


  • Robyn Lee says:

    Excellent insight Tom– acceptance can be so freeing ~ definitely not passive to be courageous enough to embrace what is ~Love to you,

    • Thomas Ross says:


      Courage. Perhaps the foundational virtue. We know and now we must find and hold the courage to live what we know. Having this connection helps me find that courage.

      Thank you.


  • And a very beautiful stone from all angles.

  • Gigi wanders says:

    Whoa! Supreme!

  • “Acceptance is the simple recognition that you cannot control others….” This is a hard lesson, isn’t it Tom? Your post makes me think of the old AA mantra, “let go and let God.”

    I come to the table with a different set of issues, but since I’ve begun to embrace the concept that the only one I truly hold any sway over is *me,* I’ve been more at peace. Seems like the simplest of premises are sometimes the hardest to accept, no?

    Wishing you peace, boundless love and acceptance of yourself as you continue your journey, Tom. Yours is a beautiful soul..I feel it in my heart. Be kind to yourself, and extend the same understanding and latitude to yourself that you so graciously extend to others who gather here with you in this space…..

    • donnaanddiablo, lovely comments.

    • Thomas Ross says:


      This is perhaps the loveliest reply I have ever read.

      Your message hits home in the strongest possible way. “Acceptance of myself” has been such a struggle for so long. But here and now, reading your words, and breathing deeply, I feel peace.

      How is it that I find such compassion and such insight from you and others who come here? What lucky star led me to this work and allowed me to join this community of good people?

      I am deeply grateful.


      • Dear Tom,

        I am touched that I can be but a small segment of your journey. To think that anything I might have said brings peace to another is deeply gratifying… Wishing you only goodness….

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