2020-09-22 Mindful Letting Go (2 of 5) Wise Letting Go
2:53PM Sep 22, 2020
So for this second talk on mindful letting go, I want to emphasize the importance of wisdom that we let go with wisdom with a deeper understanding. And sometimes people hear teachings on letting go and they hold it up idealistically, they hold it up with something that we're supposed to, really, you know, do with everything, let go of everything, be renunciant to something. And there can be lots of foolish letting go, that can be letting go of the wrong things. There can be letting go of things which are perfect, perfect, perfectly fine to have. But there's an attitude that maybe they're wrong or bad or something. Or just there's an idea that just letting go is better.
So there are two general areas of wisdom in terms of letting go. One is to the general area is to really understand something about what we are letting go of, the nature of what we're letting go of. And then the second is what we are letting go into, what we're allowing by letting go. So one is to understand the dangers of clinging, holding on. And the other is to understand the benefits of letting go. What's good about it.
And so the dangers of clinging are twofold. Sometimes we cling to things which themselves are harmful. So for example, if there's a strong addiction, to almost anything, but strong addictions, certain things, say it's alcohol, sometimes is necessary to do alcohol and keep acting on that is can be extremely hard, extremely damaging, not only to the person who's an alcoholic, but also to their family, to people around them and so forth. And I meet lots of people coming to meditation retreats, who talk about their personal inner challenges and sufferings. And one of the common themes is it's very hard is to grow up in a family where one of the family members is an alcoholic. And so the behavior that comes out of alcoholism, damages self and damages others. And it's the clinging to that alcohol, which on the surface is really the difficulty and sometimes it's the wisest thing to do, is to really let go of the alcohol, let go of the object of the addiction, remove ourselves from it, to remove it from us.
And so it's sometimes it's really the danger of something we're clinging to and holding on to. And that, you know, we see wisely Oh, this is damaging, this is painful. So that's that's the kind of wisdom we have, we really understand why it's not healthy for us. The other kind of letting go, understanding about the harm the danger of clinging, is to understand that the act of clinging itself is a kind of suffering, it might be less of a suffering sometimes in the consequences of addiction. But there is a kind of there's clearly a loss of freedom, a pain, a contraction, and anxiety, a some kind of inner pain that comes from clinging. And so here, it's not necessarily letting go of things, but rather letting go of the clinging. Someone could cling to something which is quite beneficial in and of itself is quite good. Someone could cling to having a good nutritious diet and but the clinging to the craving, the grasping the necessity that holding on for dear life, which I've seen in some people, I've seen people who are really consumed with almost like an addiction to have healthy food and it has not served them well.
And so what's needed is not letting go of the healthy food. What's needed is to let go of that drivenness, the compulsivity for it. That's what we let go of. So some Buddhist teachers will say that letting go is not letting go of things, but letting go and letting go over clinging to things. And in that way, what I'm very fond of pointing out is that there's two ways of letting go of the striker. One would be to just let it drop. And then it might fall like I just did know in my ankle in hurts a little bit. So, you know, you could cause damage and letting go in the wrong way. But the other way of letting go is I can let go of the grasping to the striker, and it ends up like this. So I still have the striker, but I'm holding it gently, openly, and not clinging to it. So sometimes, really understanding that the pain and the tightness of what it's like and the shortcomings of the clinging, clinging to the striker limits the sensitivity and availability of the soft, sensitive part of the hand, to feel what's going on in the world, to connect to it and do other things with it. So when I'm grasping, I'm limited, when the hand is holding this way, let go, the clinging, I'm not as limited, there's more I can do, including putting something down and picking it up when it's needed. So the wisdom of understanding the danger of some of the things that we cling to. That's one form of wisdom.
The other form of wisdom is to understand the danger of clinging itself. And how it limits us and causes pain. And those two forms of wisdom can give ample reasons for us to let go. And we understand really well Oh yes, I need to let go, I have to let go. It's important to let go. But still, even with that kind of wisdom, some people find it's hard to let go. And there's fear to let go. There's compulsiveness is quite strong. And so the other letting go the other side of wisdom, which is to understand the benefits of it. That letting go we can also let go into something. And we let go to like when the hand when the hand opens to a greater sensitivity. I'm available to feel and be in contact with the world in a much richer and deeper way. When my hand is open, and if my hand is always clenched. And so we let go into a sensitivity into availability into kind of presence. That's not possible if we're contracted in that clinging kind of is.
We can also understand that there's a ... especially it comes with more and more Buddhist practice or any kind of spiritual practice, the contemplative life, that there's a difference between living on the surface of life and living a really connected more deeply into the wellsprings of life. And I like to call it the inner life. Some people might call it the soul here in the modern West, some the Buddhists might call it the heart, the citta, you know, really being connected to the heart. If I spend my days, pursuing pleasure and getting massage and taste your food and different kind of sensual pleasures, it might feel really good. But that's more surface to really feel something deeply, deeply content and contentment and peacefulness and warmth and the kind of three dimensional fully kind of embodied sense of the inner life, the full life. We have to kind of open up to what's deeper inside of us, the quality of our inner life. And only we can be the caretakers of that inner life. And we have to discover it and learn what it is, which is a lot of what the contemplative life is about. And I'm using the word contemplative today to kind of imply something that's maybe much bigger than simply a mindful life. A mindful life for some people, is still a life on the surface, just being mindful of, you know, eating the raising or something. contemplative life is mindfulness which really is wicked wakes up the inner sensibility that touches into the quality of the inner life.
And to realize that in letting when we when we let go, we can also let go into a deeper connection to the present moment. We can let go into peace, into feelings of contentment and joy and happiness well being, goodwill, a sense of rightness, a sense of let go into a feeling of this is true. It's possible to let go and then feel our sadness and our grief. But it can feel like this is as painful as it is. It feels right there's a rightness to feel this grief. Of course, I feel grief, given what's happened. And unless I can let go into the, I don't know why Words fail me but you know the rightness of grief, or you know, these different strong emotions we have that might not seem to be, you know, spirit contemplative in nature. But they're true and to let go into the trueness of it and this kind of letting go into what's actually here and then we find our way, then then life is a whole different thing.
So, we can let go into having greater clarity, we can let go into having more awareness because clinging interferes with it, we can let go into seeing more clearly what's actually happening you're understanding, taking time to look and see, we can let go into the sense of inner vitality and engagement. We can let go into joy, delight and happiness. We can let go into calm and peacefulness. We can let go into concentration, classically in Theravada, Buddhism and classically but is the long popular idea maybe that the primary means for developing Samadhi is just letting go, letting go deeply, letting go into a natural subtleness and openness and focus. And then there's letting go into equanimity into a serenity, a peace of non reactivity.
These are called the seven factors of awakening. And they can be available in small ways and big ways. And this is part of the richness of our inner life. And as we practice, slowly we begin to get inklings of these seven factors of awakening. We get inklings of the Brahmaviharas of love, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, equanimity, we get inklings of wisdom and understanding. And we can understand how dangerous it is to be apart from that, to not be wise to not be connected to mindfulness. And we can understand the benefits to be connected. And so we can let go, not to diminish ourselves, but to enhance ourselves and to benefit ourselves to avoid dangers and to benefit. And I really like to think that this letting go is really a way to enhance the goodness enhance the strength, the beauty of our inner life. And so, developing wisdom around letting go. And so we can mindful letting go. It can be synonymous with wise, letting go. And if someone asks you to let go or you consider letting go of something, ask yourself, is it wise? What's wise? Let's be Let's become wise first about it before I let go.
So thank you and look forward to tomorrow.