“Letting go means letting be, not throwing things away.
Letting go implies letting things come and go,
and opening to the wisdom of simply allowing,
which is called nonattachment.”
-Lama Surya Das
I’m very pleased to offer you a guest article today by Lama Surya Das, one of the foremost Western Buddhist meditation teachers and scholars and best-selling author of thirteen books, including “Awakening to the Sacred,” “Awakening the Buddha Within,” “Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be,” and his newest, “Buddha Standard Time: Awakening to the Infinite Possibilities of Now.”
“Let Go or Get Dragged“
by Lama Surya Das
A friend of mine named Eva, who manages a Buddhist retreat center in the mountains of Switzerland, has a yellow sticky hanging above her mouse pad as a reminder. It says: “Let go or get dragged.” That about sums it up for me.
I have been thinking a lot lately about acceptance, and how it actually changes things. For example: have you ever noticed how hard it is to change your mate, while a little more acceptance goes a long way towards transforming your relationship? Ultimately, I can change myself; that is about as far as it goes, although the ripple effect definitely filters further outwards. In a deeper sense, transforming myself transforms the world. That is why Buddha said: “When I was enlightened, all were enlightened, even the rocks and the trees.”
Acceptance has its own transformative magic. Letting go means letting be. Cultivating this panaceic inner virtue has helped me become far more patient, tolerant, empathic and open-minded. And lord knows, we could use a little more of that in this violent, strife-torn world!
The Buddhist PeaceMaster Shantideva said, long ago:
“Anger is the greatest evil. Patient forbearance is the hardest practice.”
Patient forbearance is the third transcendental virtue and transformative power (“paramita”) of the Bodhisattva, the peaceful spiritual warrior. Cultivating inner discipline and integrity raises our standard for living and brings purpose and meaning to our lives. Facing our difficulties with courage and fortitude can bring us spiritual satisfaction and riches beyond measure. This is a time in our history to become sacred warriors for peace, not warmongers or mere worriers. Anger and fear are the roots of violence, as we know.
The Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna said: “Contentment is the greatest form of wealth.” Contentment should never be confused with complacence and indifference. There are various types of wealth in this world, but let me assure you that cultivating equanimity, spiritual detachment and heartfelt acceptance brings an inexhaustible wealth of contentment. Incessant craving and greed knows no end, like drinking salt water in a misguided attempt to alleviate thirst. Cultivating contentment and gratitude helps us appreciate what is given rather than focusing on what may be missing or imagined.
Radical acceptance implies unconditional friendliness, the kind of openness and love that allows us to meet life as it is; which never throws anyone out of our hearts, even if we don’t like what they may think, say or do.
Love is far greater than the ego-based dichotomy of likes and dislikes. Don’t you love your child or pet, even when they disturb you and you dislike what they are doing?
Of course we all want to be better people and make this a better world. I do believe that we can and must do so. Acceptance does not mean condoning the evils, injustices and inequalities in life. However, it can help us see more clearly what is, just as it is, and how and why things work the way they do, before we attempt to enter the fray. When we calmly observe and investigate the causes of things, and the fact that nothing happens by accident, we can see far more clearly, and the truth reveals itself, whether we like it or not. Cultivating patience and acceptance has provided more mental clarity and spaciousness for me to examine input before unthinkingly responding in the classic stimulus-reaction pattern of habitual conditioning common to most of us most of the time, and at the root of so many of our problems.
Now and then, practice taking a sacred pause: breathe once and relax, calmly enjoying a moment of mindfulness and reflection before reacting — this can dramatically increases the chances of making better choices and undertaking wiser actions. We simply have to remember to do so, again and again, until it becomes a new habit.
Letting go means letting be, not throwing things away. Letting go implies letting things come and go, and opening to the wisdom of simply allowing, which is called nonattachment. Sometimes we may not know what to do. That is a good time to do nothing. Too often compulsive overdoing creates further unnecessary complications. When at a complete loss, some put down their head, fold their hands, and rely on a higher power for clarity, guidance and direction…
Copyright Lama Surya Das. All Rights Reserved.
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Wishing you a beautiful day!!
Valerie Rickel, Founder