2020-09-23 Mindful Letting Go (3 of 5) Letting Go as Generosity
2:54PM Sep 23, 2020
And then we continue with the third talk on letting go, wise letting go. mindful letting go. And there's a wonderful double meanings in the ancient Pali language around words for letting go. And that is those words, three of those prominent words, many words for letting go, but three prominent ones, also have the meaning of generosity, of giving. And so what's the connection between letting go and giving? Is that to give something, we have to let it go, we have to hand it over, we have to no longer hold on to it are told to hold tight. And this idea of connecting, letting go with generosity, also, I believe exists in the English language. There's an expression in modern English giving up, which means kind of a surrender, kind of an unwelcome, kind of surrender, well, I just have to give up hope, kind of. But apparently originally, the word giving up meant to jet to offer something up onto the altar, it was kind of a sacred act, to give something up, hand something over. And that also apparently, is the French meaning of meaning of surrender as well. So surrender comes from French and to give from below, or give up to hand up, to hand up, offer up.
And then we have this, you know, fascinating word sacrifice, which can also feel like we have to give up something wonderful and really kind of suffer a little bit or be deprived or have something in order to for some greater good. But the Latin meaning of the word is to means to sacrifice to make sacred. And I think they're also making sacred meant a little bit, making something, offering something to the altar to the gods or something.
So letting go in Pali, and one of the primary meanings of the uses of the word is clearly using the synonym for generosity for giving, for dāna, for charity. And it's a synonym. So depending on the context, you have to know whether to read it is a kind of letting go, or as a kind of generosity. And we kind of get get both both meanings if we translated rather than letting go as giving away, where the emphasis on generosity. And the word, paṭinissagga is also associated with delight. And so I think in Pali, in the ancient language, that the word for letting go has a lot of positive associations, they might be missing for English speakers, around the word letting go. Some people hear the word letting go. And it just seems like bad news. And, but in meditation, itself, we're not really letting go of any things. That's for wisdom to know if things in the world need to be put down or abandoned or not done anymore. But in meditation, the primary thing we let go of is ideas, thoughts, stories, so that we could offer our attention to the present moment. And is there a way of not resist not being kind of upset or discouraged or aversive to our distracted mind, but to see the act of letting go of them as something akin to generosity, or something related to that good feelings that come from generosity when it's done really well. Or simply that we're allowing them to go where we're generously letting them depart. You know, after all, do you know where your thinking goes, when you let go of it? Your thoughts? It's possible that it's a very generous thing for your mind to let the mind, kind of grant the mind the possibility of not churning and ruminating. It's a good healthy thing for the mind to not have to keep doing that, the weight of that, the tension of that.
And so, as an act of care and concern and taking care of the mind here, I'm going to offer my generously, I'm going to offer to let go of this so you don't have to struggle with this anymore. And so I don't know if this works for some of you to hear this idea, this association. But one of the really important parts of anytime we do a meditative or dharmic, letting go, that look for something, in the wake of that and doing that, look for the joy, look for the delight. And that might be too strong in certain situations. But look to look for the lightening, look for the ease that comes, look for something becomes a lightens up, or a little bit more space, there's something that feels right, or goodness, that comes with healthy, wise letting go.
And I learned this many years ago, when I thought I was letting go. And you know, I've been in Buddhism is a lot of letting go. So I thought I could do it then. And I would let go of things. And then they come back and bite me. That somehow I would let go. But then sometime later, I'd get angry or snap at someone. And what I learned was that if I let go and I was neutral, and just like you know, just just it was a neutral experience, then I haven't really successfully let go, to really let go there has to be something that has a positive feeling to it. So even situations, which maybe wouldn't, It isn't appropriate to be joy, wouldn't be joyful, there's still a feeling of rightness, or apropriate goodness, or some lightening or something. And so either think about letting go is an act of generosity, or to attend to acts of letting go to look for how we can do so in a way that feels good, feels right. Both in the act itself, and in the after effect of it.
And so in the act itself, you want to be careful, there's no aversion. And there's no sense of obligation or heavy duty, or feeling that I'm bad and I have to not do this anymore. Or you know, or feeling shame, but how we are and we have to kind of get rid of something because it's not a good thing to be that way. And so we have to kind of hide it or let go of it quickly. So hopefully no one will see that we have these thoughts or these inclinations.
And that those kinds of movements, while it's understandable, people would have them. I don't tend to bring that sense of uplift, that we're looking for in the act of letting go. And so how do you let go to let go without aversion, without insistence without expectation to be successful even to do it with an open hand and open heart and open mind to do it calmly, to not be in a hurry? And kind of you know, offer offer something up. And then after you've let go take a moment to appreciate, take a moment to appreciate the goodness of the rightness or the feelings of uplift or something that come with that letting go. Don't just kind of let go and then quickly rush off to the next moment of whatever you're going to think or feel or do. But take a little bit maybe a moment doesn't have to be long to feel, ah, the relief, the openness, the goodness, the the wonderful absence of the tension or the absence of the of the preoccupation. And that registering of the goodness or registering of the uplifting way it is reinforces the benefits of letting go supports coming home to a good way of being. So that letting go is not just letting go. It's also letting go into or allowing something to grow and develop that is appropriate and helpful and healthy to do. And so the same thing is true for relaxing the body and meditation. Often the beginning of meditation, it's good to relax. And you know he can't, doesn't really work to rush the relaxation. It doesn't really work to tensely relax and greedily relax, but to relax in a generous way, in a supportive way, you know, relaxed way.
But there also is a generous act to relax, where we're generously taking care of our body and our mind and our inner life by relaxing the body and to feel that generosity. And so what we have here is the idea that it's possible to be generous to oneself, just as much as as possible, be generous to someone else. And that letting go, releasing, giving up is a positive, has a way in which is a positive thing. And so what the Buddha said, is that when there's letting go, and it's wholesome, it brings along wholesome states, it benefits a wholesome development of our being our character, that's the letting go, that he promotes. If the letting go is unwholesome, if it diminishes us in some way, if it unwholesome qualities come up, that is not what he recommends.
So letting go, which is wholesome. And perhaps we can get a sense of that feeling for that with the idea of with the idea, but the experience of generosity.
May all your letting go. Be a delightful, enjoyable, uplifting experience of generosity for yourself and for others who benefit from your generosity. Thank you.