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  • Writer's pictureJera

"It is what it is"

I had a conversation with a dear friend awhile back regarding the phrase:

"It is what it is".

I'm attached to this phrase, I found. Partially because they are the words of one of my greatest teachers, Baba Ram Dass, but also because they're a personal North Star - a way home when things feel chaotic.

However, this friend pointed out that, for some, it can lead to complacency. Being a social activist, I heard her saying that it would be hard to trust a fellow activist in their convictions if this were one of their main tenets.

Being that this is a person I highly respect, I have been allowing their lens to toss around in my brain - trying it on from different angles.

And I am so incredibly grateful to have gotten the chance, as it's clarified the ideas I have of my Self and how I wish to be in the world.


"It is what it is" represents the idea that our reach of control as human beings is extremely limited. Humans have constructed an entire layer of what we see as 'shared reality' - a layer of constructs.

"It is what it is" gives us a way to let go of the idea that we have control over others or fate or the Universe at large. And, as attachment creates suffering, this can be a very helpful reminder to detach from un-useful human constructs.

However - I have seen a bit of a crack in the foundation of the idea, as we currently hold it.


Complacency can be a bi-product of this ideology. It happens when the person holding the tenant wishes to take themselves out of the equation completely.

By seeing the world around us as "simply being what it is", but not factoring in our own existence, we erase our duty to *show up* as humans in our world.

A more genuine way to hold the tenet is to face inward and outward when applying it.



The world is what it is, meaning that my reach of control is restricted to how I interact with it. However, my soul and my existence is a part of the world I live in. Just as I must accept the nature of the world, I must spend time learning and loving my whole Self, accepting that this soul "is what it is".

I don't need to make myself smaller or invisible to be a non-violent force in the world. I exist just as the trees, buildings, people, and circumstances around me. To take myself out of that picture is a form of spiritual bypassing.

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