Paying Taxes by Hans-Michael Schoebinger

Paying Taxes

By Hans-Michael Schoebinger

For some years now the Austrian government keeps charging me taxes for a piece of land that I do not own. After their first claim had arrived, I protested, but to no avail, after the second claim I first yelled, then protested, again to no avail, after the third and fourth and many more that followed I, well… – you can imagine.



After one particularly bad episode of shouting, swearing and then sweating bullets when fantasizing that the government was after me, I finally realized that this was an exam. The test was about whether I could accept things just as they are.

Ever since taking this exam I have then responded by simply paying. And I feel so much better with that anger, inner fighting and complaining simply gone.

That is not to rule out that at some point I could make another attempt to change the situation and give it a try from my settled and peaceful vantage point. It just means that here and now I am fine with the state of Austria’s affairs and do not feel that I have to defend myself any longer or construct any story whatsoever about me and these circumstances. I just let them be.


“Fine, now what’s that got to do with horses?” you might ask.

I have found that when I was working with horses, I quite often had that nagging inclination towards complaining about and fighting situations, which I thought that I had not deserved.

“After all my hard work you are giving me this?!” I would think in these moments and send the horse running another fruitless round; or if my horse would not dare to walk into that one corner of the arena, I would stubbornly, yet futile, again and again and again try to make her do it.

I also noticed a lot of resistance building up and a lot of effort subsequently spent on both sides working against that resistance. Plus, the extra effort to complain about how unthankful she is, how stupid it is of her to avoid that corner and what a shame it is that I am here at the mercy of these undeserved circumstances: “I got better things to do! Dammit!”

This is when we burn up life’s energy just to make it most miserable, a strategy that can only be described as insane.

 If she does not transition the way I want her to, I first and foremost have to accept that she does not transition the way I want her to, because this is a fact. To lament “But she has to!” is the beginning of the path to insanity.

If she avoids that corner, I have to accept that also, because, again, it is a fact and creating alternative facts at least in my horsemanship did not work too well.

But as soon as I accept what is, I immediately find myself on top of things, or as Michael Singer so eloquently describes it: “By aligning myself with life’s outer flow, the beautiful, inward flow of energy” is “naturally strengthened.” [2]

From this grounded perspective it is suddenly easy to respond. If she does not enter that corner, through your very acceptance you help her, because she just got a friend who shares the same basic understanding that she does – not daring to go there. This constitutes something to build on, like jointly exploring that dark corner.

The gait transition or lack thereof can likewise most efficiently be tackled this way. In new found peace and quiet you see through the situation and find that you have been thinking so much about what she did not do, that there was no room left to think about what she shall do. Therefore, you have instilled in her to do what she should not do. And she made your wish come true.

There have been a great many experiences like these, when the way out was presented to me the second I accepted the situation as it was. It is not useful to describe each and every one of these events at this point, because first of all, every situation is different. Secondly, and more importantly, should you find yourself in any kind of situation, once you unconditionally accept it wholeheartedly, without any ifs and buts, there will automatically be presented a way out to you, as has been proven to me time and again.

Just watch out for any residue of complaint, for any secret agenda that you try to hide from yourself. Only if you really let go of all this inner resistance you truly accept. And there is another trap lurking here: If you ‘accept’ the situation only on the condition that you will be presented with a solution, that is no true acceptance either! In fact, only if you first of all accept that there is no solution, you will find it, or rather, it will be presented to you.

And just so as to utterly twist your mind: if you define ‘solution’ as a state that you can accept without second thoughts, you have already found it – through your acceptance. Thus, no wonder that it works.

Yet when a situation really gets at you, it sometimes is far from easy to be aware enough and remember to accept it as it is. To increase my acceptance rate, I found it helpful to regularly check my mind for feelings of anger and thoughts of complaining. This periodic check, say, every fifteen minutes, helped me to develop the capability to more often detect the resisting state of mind in its early stages. As it turned out, when the tantrum was just about to get going, it was way easier to get on top of it.

Nowadays I see the following cycle at work: I complain, but I do not realize it – I carry out the regular check, whether I complain – I thereby find out that I am complaining – I observe my complaining – I accept, that I am complaining; and this marvelously stops the complaining because suddenly there is nothing to complain about – I am back in the here and now and it is fine.

Then the complaining might creep in again. But even when it does, I will very soon be back for another chance of acceptance as the cycle repeats. In the long run it hence becomes really hard to keep complaining. I also find that the cycles tend to get shorter to the effect that the actual time between being about to throw a tantrum and smoothly stopping it in its tracks keeps shrinking and sometimes even approaches zero.

To get acceptance work for you:

Add the complaint checker to your daily routines. You can start by setting a timer that reminds you to look for thoughts of complaining every hour or so. Then gradually shorten the intervals. Soon you won’t need the timer no more as the checkups occur automatically.

Don’t try to convince yourself that the situation is acceptable by means of telling yourself that “it could be even worse“. In portraying it as fine in this way you are actually lying to yourself. Acceptance does not mean that you have to like the situation. Simply accept that you dislike it, or, to be more specific, that the ego part of you dislikes it. And, by the way, what’s that imagined “worse” situation got to do with the one at hand anyways?

Remember that frustration, anger or distress are just labels that you have attached to a situation. These labels are in you and nowhere else. Explore them by, for instance, asking yourself: What color is my distress? If it were a building, how many floors would it have? Would it be the remnants of a castle, sacked and burnt down, or a shabby hut, a cheap motel? But hurry up in your exploration, because examining it in this way distress or anger or frustration cannot be maintained for long.

[1] Quoted by Eckhart Tolle 2009, in a lecture about Marcus Aurelius’ book „Meditations“

[2] (Singer, 2015); p. 197

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