It is what it is …… and that’s okay

Awhile back, during one of our Buddhist meetings, someone went off on a tangent about how she hates it when people say “It is what it is”, and how fatalistic and negative it is, that there is no hope in a statement like that. Immediately my mind went into “WTF?” mode, but decided to bite my tongue being the new guy and all.

I’ve been mulling on this for a bit, and think that she was far from the truth. It seems to me that “It is what it is” is at the heart of Buddhism. Recognizing that phenomenon occur whether we like it or not is part of the practice. There will be a point in my life when I will step on a piece of broken glass. There is no changing that, there is no changing the pain I will feel. However, Buddhism teaches that we can be free from the suffering that can occur because of this empty phenomenon of pain. When the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile hit, we say that it was due to karma. But a correct (right view) understanding of karma shows us that it wasn’t because the Haitians were Nazis in their former life, it was that things were set into motion and then the earthquake happened (also, I’m pretty sure some plate tectonics had some influence there). Once the earthquake happens, it is what it is. It happened. Now (this may sound harsh) deal with it. It is how we choose to deal with phenomenon that determine how/if we suffer. Suffering is always optional. Of course, it’s hard to see that suffering is optional when your family was just crushed by a building. But to me, that’s part of the allure of Buddhism. It does offer hope and a way to escape the suffering we face everyday, regardless of how tragic our situation might be.

But I think the first step in lessening and eliminating suffering is recognizing things and situations for what they are. Essentially, It is what it is. True liberation comes from freeing ourselves of the suffering that occurs when we fail to realize this.




Filed under Buddhism

12 responses to “It is what it is …… and that’s okay

  1. You know at first I never liked that saying, but the more I got into Buddhist teachings, the more I came to appreciate it.

  2. buddhasbrewing

    The reason it’s annoying is taht it sounds trite and dismissive, but really it’s not. Instead it’s just the opposite, it’s acceptance of phenomena and the lackof control we have over them.

    Good Post.

    Hope is a pile of BS, by the way. It’s nothing more than delusion. Accpet what is and make the best of it byt making better choices so that what will be will be better when it becomes what is.

    Peace, Brotha’

    • I don’t know. I think Buddhism does offer hope. Hope for liberation of suffering, especially to those who haven’t yet walked the path or are just starting out.

  3. I totally agree Adam. It is a bit over-used but the essence of the message is absolutely in line with Buddhism. Perhaps a reason that it has become trite is because it’s so true!! 😉

  4. It could be that, to this person, it sounds cold or unsympathetic. Or maybe it sounds like a facile, or a smug, or in some sense an *easy* thing to say, and she doesn’t like it.

  5. “C’est la vie” comes out of me from time to time.

  6. I have a friend who uses that line, and he us usually right when he uses it. I like it in that fact that it is simple and honest.

  7. Jamie G.

    It is my motto, trite or not, it is what it is.

  8. kitano0

    I heard someone point out, however, that it is the circumstances surrounding the use of the phrase that make it annoying. When you make a suggestion at work, for instance, to make something more efficient or less redundant and your supervisor says that to you, it is another way of saying “it’s always been done this way…” But it can be used as a really useful personal mantra that can remind you to just deal. I know this sounds somewhat contradictory, but I can see where “it is what it is” can sound negative or defeatist.

    • Ahh, yes, I can see that. Accepting failure. In that sense, yes, I do see how it could be fatalistic or defeatist. Quite negative indeed.

      Thanks for pointing that out.