Someone wrote to ask whether all this "self acceptance" and embracing ourselves "just as we are" means that, for example, a wife beater or alcoholic or thief should just accept themselves like that, not seek to change or live any other way.
No. Please recall that, in our Zen Way, we live on several channels at once ... seemingly contradictory, yet not contradictory at all.
I want to reach for Jundo's handy-dandy "acceptance without acceptance"
formula here, and apply it to our personal natures:
So, in our "Just Sitting" Shikantaza, we completely accept the universe, and all in it, just as it is. We drop all thoughts of likes and dislikes, dreams and regrets and need for change, hopes and fears. Yet simultaneously, hand in hand without the slightest deviation (on another mental "track", if you want to say that), we live our lives as human beings, and living life requires choices, goals, likes and dislikes, dreams and hopes.
Thus, living our life is much like living in a house with a leaky roof, spiders and broken windows. In Master Dogen's way, we simply sit to drop all resistance to the house we have been living in all along, to realize that there is nowhere to 'go' in life, to cease all efforts to add to or take away from the structure, to let go of the ego's insisting on how things "should be" in order for the house to be "good" ... we ARE
that house, our True Home! Then we find, in dropping that resistance, that the house we have always been in is "perfectly what it is", and we can be joyful right where we are. HOWEVER, we can be content with that house even as, hand in hand, there is still much serious repair work to do (an acceptance-without-acceptance of the leaky windows, spiders and creaky doors). There is nothing to prevent our fixing those, even as we accept their existence!
We can accept and not accept simultaneously, repair what needs to be repaired.
We have goals for repair even as, on the other "track", we drop all goals and thoughts of repair.
So, even as we can accept that we are a wife beating alcoholic, we should immediately set to not be so! One simply cannot taste the fruits of Buddhist practice if one is so filled with anger, violence, pain and need that one is a violent, abusive alcoholic!
And what guides us onto the smooth path for life?
Yes, the Precepts.