2021-02-28-Letting Go-What is Abandoned and What is Gained
4:16AM Mar 1, 2021
So for this Sunday morning talk a little bit in the background or the foundation of a talk is the idea that the Dharma Dharma practice, points to simplicity, it's a very simple thing. And it can be deceptively simple, it can be surprisingly simple. What we're looking for, we're looking for the freedom from suffering, the alleviation of suffering. And, and that's at the heart of what the Dharma, the whole religiosity of the Buddha is about. And, and part of the reason why it's useful to emphasize is simplicity, is that people who many people will come to Buddhism, with all kinds of expectations about what a religion is what they want. That that is searching for something that's in a sense outside of themselves. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that, and can be quite wonderful in itself to find a religious life or source that's outside of oneself. But the Dharma of the Buddha is in a sense found within ourselves. And it was kind of very simple way. And, and one way that when characteristics of this or emphasis or the simplicity is the, the practice of letting go, rather than acquiring more ideas, more concepts, building up ourselves and our conceit, there's a real emphasis on letting go letting go letting go. But letting go is people making more complicated than it needs to be, and sometimes react to it negatively, because this means I have to let go of all my possessions or let go of the people I love in my life. The the teachings of the Buddha, the letting go, is almost entirely or maybe entirely, having to do with letting go of particular mental states or mental activity that's within ourselves, not letting go of things of the world. So the primary letting go is letting go of our clinging, letting go of the grasping or the craving, that we have the contractions that come along with some of the desires and aversions we have. And so that's what we're letting go of. And if we turn around and really look at ourselves deeply, we'll see we'll feel that the clinging is the cravings, we have our way of self harm, the way they're kind of hurting ourselves, causing pain and suffering to ourselves. And in the Buddhist analysis, that's the suffering, that we have the most ability to do something about the suffering that we contribute, contribute to through our clinging and our grasping. So that's what we're letting go. Now when we let go. There are things that we abandon, we end badly clinging, craving, grasping, we abandon hatred, aversion, hostility, and we abandon a certain confusion, tendency towards confusion or delusion. So there are things we let go of, but these, again, are all internal things. And so it's not a search for something outside of ourselves, a search for God to search for some kind of cosmic, kind of understanding or wisdom or consciousness. It's not, it's not a connection to something beyond ourselves, which is a wonderful thing that can happen, our sense of interconnectedness to life and all that, but that's not the heart of the Buddhist spirituality, which is, maybe seems very simplistic, reductionistic, and maybe not enough in the fullness of life. And, and that may be but still, over and over again, the Buddha pointed to this simplicity of letting go of greed, hatred, and delusion. And for the Buddha, that's the ultimate that's like that, to do that thoroughly, fully is this full message that he's giving. For people who have other ideas of what they want their life to really be about? Then I think Buddhism is contributes in that it says or offers, that whatever your values are, whatever way you want to live, and be connected and understand this life that we live in. Even if you'd like to believe in God or cosmic consciousness or you have your fundamental religious belief is the interconnectedness of life. All those ideas what Buddhism has offers, please,
don't don't use those ideas as a justification for greed, hate and delusion. Don't, don't focus on those so much that you lose touch with this deep inner potential to not have greed, hatred and delusion, that that be the foundation. And then you can do all kinds of other things in a much richer and more meaningful way. But for the Buddha, Buddha, it was really, this, this inner life that we're rectifying or freeing, and then the rest of life comes in other way. So there is something we abandon. But the letting go is not just about what's abandoned, it's also about what is gained. And this probably is not emphasized enough in teachings of letting go. Letting Go is kind of on the surface can seem like yes, we let go of something. And then at the best, where hands are open, we're open hearted or open minded, we're kind of left without clinging to something. But it's, it's better than that. Letting go of clinging, grasping, craving, letting go of hatred and and hostility, aversion, letting go of regrets and agitation, sloth torpor doubt, that, letting go of all these things, we gained something as a result. And it's kind of like there's been a, there's a dam, that filled with water, and then the gate is one of the the gate is opened, and the water begins to flow out. And, and flows out and fills the river below and, and that just flows and flows and flows. And it's a wonderful thing to have the water flowing and not bottled up by the dam. So the same thing, when we let go, something begins to flow, something begins to move through us that maybe has been held back by the greed, hate and delusion by clinging and grasping. And there's the gain of what happens in that flow, when the when something has been released and let go, that was covering over or resisting or blocking something inside. And so the, there's a number of things that I open up, when we let go, and have cultivated awareness, and presence. And, and one of those things is the seven factors of awakening, that when we have a deep, letting go, it frees up certain kind of energy frees up a certain kind of momentum in our life, that makes available to us much more mindfulness, clear, this cleared, distinguishing of phenomenon, clear seeing, which we call investigation, sometimes in English, effort, joy, tranquility, Samadhi, and equanimity. And, and these are not strange foreign ideas to human beings. It takes maybe it doesn't take that much in reflection, maybe to see that they're there accompany us to some degree, maybe in small degrees here and there in our life in ways that we don't really appreciate. And so one of the ways the examples that Buddha gave for this, that and how these seven factors awakening can arise is when is listening to the Buddha, at least giving a Dharma talk given a great teacher gives a talk. And it's, it's very engaging and compelling to really be present and listen closely. And like what's being said, is so important, so clear, so profound, that we're really there to find out what is this that's being said, and there's a fullness of attention. That is Sati. Is mindfulness really there? that it isn't that self consciously mindful? But we're really that tension is really present to take in this experience, and maybe even with all our faculties not just cognitively, with the mind, but with our, our hearts, our body are all our senses. As well as the thing, the ordinary thinking discursive.
conversational mind quiets down, and we're just taking something in with clarity, there might still be some thinking involved. But the thinking is very, very simple and clear. That there there is more and more clarity in the eyesight and the perception of things. We see things much more clearly. I remember I give I went I went to, I had, I've been to a very engaging talk, sometimes academic talks when I went outside, taking botany classes. And I was really absorbed in the details of the botany class and would leave class and, and an ad come will go out into the courtyard in this University where I went. And I'd see everything. So clearly, everything sparkled and was clear and bright. And in a way that they hadn't been when I went in, there was something about cleaning the, the filters of our eyes, developing a clear seeing, that comes with really being present, and not distracted by our thoughts. And then listening to a good talk, there's a there's certain kind of a lightness and energy and alertness, they might even sit up a little bit straighter, or this is interesting what's going on here. And then there's also maybe some joy maybe wouldn't call it joy at the time. But all the troubles fall away all the preoccupations of life fall away, we're really right here. And it just feels so good and delightful to be with the experience. And also, there may be listening to a Dharma talk, very reassuring, deep sense of reassuring, all of this makes sense, this puts things into place. This is the way forward and something inside of our settles and gets peaceful and quiet. And then there's a gathering together of all the faculties were really here in a concentrated way, which means we're really present with all we have focused on what's being said and what the meaning is. And perhaps also similar to tranquility. It's so reassuring and so, so clear, what's being said, that now I understand there's no equanimity and a balance. And now I understand that there's no value in grasping on or pushing away or leaning forward or pulling back. there's value in just staying balanced, and taking in the experience being present for the experience, without the usual reactivity with it. And there's the equanimity. So with letting go, the end of the gate of the dam has opened. It's the the water is the seven factors of awakening. And what's remarkable is that these are, can be seen almost as qualities or aspects of awareness itself. As we become more aware in an unobstructed way, it gets filled with the seven factors of awakening. The opposite of this, according to the Buddha, is the five hindrances, sensual desire aversion, lethargy and resistance, agitation and regrets and doubt. And these have the opposite effect. The hindrances, the hinder the obstruct they cover over things. And so it's like closing the gates to the dam, and then the water builds up pressure behind the dam, I block something. And as we get in part of the because with the hindrances, the focus of the mind is to be preoccupied with something, and to be up preoccupied in a contracted and narrow and tight way. And so there's no room for the seven factors of awakening, to flow out into the awareness or be found in a clear form of awareness. So the Buddha talked about letting go of the five hindrances, that it isn't just letting go of them that's important. But it's also how they create space or open the gate for the seven factors of awakening to begin, opening or appearing are flowing into our presence into our awareness. And so we're gaining something as well. And, and so the letting go of greed, hate and delusion is not just about what we abandon, it's also what we gain. In other teachings, the Buddha's points to the five, the four
divine abodes for Brahma viharas, is what starts flowing when they gate has been pulled away from the opened in the dam. And there so so there's metta, Karuna, mudita and new Pekka the Pali words, usually translated into English as loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, sympathetic joy and equanimity. And these are beautiful qualities of art. And they also are limited by our preoccupations. There's no room for love and care and compassion. If we're caught up in things like desire caught up in aversion, doubt, regrets. And so to abandon those to release those, it isn't just a matter of it isn't that we have then evoke this loving kindness or compassion. There's something about the heart that has space now to breathe, breathing room for the heart, that tends to then give birth to these beautiful qualities of heart. There's space for them. And if there's space for them, they flow. And so part of practice is to abandon to let go so that some of the best parts of our human life can flow and have chance to be present. And so and so the simplicity of all this is that this is this core aspects of the Buddhist Buddhist teachings is not exactly a religious teaching. It's not exactly a, you know, my religion versus your religion. It's actually teaching something which, just as I like to think of it is practical psychology or practical, or spirit, spiritual practice, that's available to anybody, regardless of what religion they are. And there's a remarkable teachings from the ancient discourse that points to this that I'd like to read from the connected discourses of the Buddha, the book of threes, and I think it's discourse 72. So here, a man comes to a nundah Buddhist Buddhist chief disciples, and asks this question, whose dum, dum ma is, well expounded. And Dhamma is can be a word that's synonymous with religion. And in the ancient world, it means that teachings or religious doctrine or something like that, so whose religious doctrine is well expounded? The question one question, Who in the world are practicing the right way, the good way? Who are those people who are practice really practicing the good way and the true way? And then question number three, is Who in the world are the fortunate ones? And, and so the Buddha then Nanda goes on and says, that those who teach the abandoning of greed, hatred and delusion are the ones
that he says this. What do you think, is the Dhamma of those who teach the abandoning of greed, hatred, delusion, well expanded or not? Or how do you take it? And the person who was talking to an under says, well, the Dhamma of those who teach the abandoning of greed, hate and delusion is well expounded? In the religious teachings of those who teach the abandoning of greed, hate and delusion? That's well thought. That's a good teaching. And, and what do you think? And under continues? Are those practicing for the abandoning of lust, hatred, greed, hatred, delusion, practicing the good way in the world or not? How do you take it? Those practicing for the abandoning of greed, hate and delusion, are practicing the good way? And then, are those who are practicing who are abandoning greed, hate and delusion, and really cut them out really obliterated them to the end? Are they the fortunate ones? And the man says, yes, those are the fortunate ones. So then, what he says next is a very nice, the householder, the man who's asking questions for obon under says, it is astounding. It's amazing. And under that there, there is no that you have not extolled your own Dharma, nor any denigration of the Dhamma of others, but just teaching the Dhamma in its own sphere. So, Buddha anon does not champion The Buddha's Dharma or or dismissing the importance of other people's Dharma, which is often what you get if someone says in what's, what's the best religious teaching in the world? Some people might say, Well, mine, yes, of course. But rather than saying something like that a nun does just offering this principles idea about abandoning greed, hate and delusion. And then, and then rather than making any claim about how wonderful it is, he asks the the person asking the question, is this well expounded? Is this the good way? Is this, these the fortunate people, those who practice it, and the man admits that's, that's the answer that I was looking for. And so so the simplicity of have this inner look, and not looking outside and not looking for what's ultimate and kind of kind of religious way, maybe not looking for metaphysical claims of truth, not under looking for deep understandings of the nature of the universe, the world, the cosmos, the beginning of time, the end of time. There's many answers that the Buddhism doesn't answer, but rather, to the heart of it is the simplicity of looking within oneself, and freeing oneself of forces which limit us that block the flow, letting those go, and then letting something beautiful flow, that's there, kind of like it's there waiting for us. Though it's not really there. It's not like a thing that exists independent of us. It's thing that exists with opening up with the freedom with abandoning with awareness set free. And, and so letting go, both involves what is abandoned, but also what is gained. And, and so we gain. And then. And, more often than not, what the Buddha talks about is where he abandoned greed, hatred, and delusion. And then we gained freedom. In some places, he adds a fourth thing that's abandoned. So there's four things. And this, maybe it's helpful, the fourth one to keep in mind, so that we abandon the greed, hatred, delusion, and be sure to keep it really simple. The fourth thing to be abandoned, is conceit. Greed, hatred, and delusion and conceit. And, and then we really let go of conceit as well. Then having abandoned greed, hate and delusion, won't give rise to conceit, look how special I am, I'm, I have the
most wonderful teachings, I have the most wonderful practice, I have the most wonderful attainment and the most fortunate one. If making making an eye out of it, and building up the self, is also abandoned. And this is also a delightful thing. That opens the gates for what's wonderful in us to flow out. conceit is one of those things that closes the gate, blocks the flow, in a sense. So keeping it simple, appreciating the value of what we can let go of within that which blocks us and limits us and appreciating what's gained as we let go. And really feeling into that and experiencing those gains. And maybe in doing so, becoming recognizing the seven factors of awakening with that in us, maybe recognizing them. Now, very small, initial way, but slowly developing, having them recognizing them more and more, and giving space for them and letting them really be a support for this life of freedom. a life that is free of clinging. So thank you very much and, and may this week be one in which you discover the value greater value in letting go in recognizing the seven factors of awakening in your life.