Buddha preached giving up everything to reach awakening, Jesus said “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” The path to self realization is paved with shedding things but what does it really mean?
The ascetics tried giving up everything but Buddha saw that giving up everything wasn’t the way to self realization. It only prevented it. So he discovered it requires balance.
The ego is concerned with gaining things so when we let go we bring a change in perception of what is important. We allow what really matters to arise for us in a day-to-day perception of what we are doing.
Letting go has a variety of meanings. It can mean letting go of something hurtful someone has said to you. It can mean letting a friend move out of your life when the friendship has changed. It can mean letting go of a dream when it becomes obvious that it is not going to happen. It can mean letting go in the death of a loved one and ultimately letting go of everything upon our own death. Letting go is part of life and so must be mastered. So much pain and anguish is generated in the desire to hold onto things. Whereas the natural way is to let go.
So why do people hold onto things when they must let go? The answer is always fear.
Fear that it will be taken away when in actuality it will be anyway. Fear that their child will hurt themselves so they mollycoddle them into being helpless. Fear that they will lose money in the stock market so they keep it in the bank and stay poor. Fear that their loved one will not love them anymore and leave, so they get smothered by them and do so anyway. Holding on has a way of coming back to bite you.
Letting go of outcome though has a way of returning to you what you desire. Ever had the experience of wanting something but not pushing or trying to make it happen and somehow it did? Some people call it flow. It’s when you don’t hold on, you don’t grasp. You just set your intention then let go. It’s interesting because in my own experience the more you let go of, the more freedom you find and the less there is a “me” to claim ownership of things.
In my experience the more you release, the more you find that the “you” that thought you had to have it, didn’t really need it anyway. The more you let go of what you think you need, the more you find what was missing. Strange, how it works really. Stranger too that as you begin the process of letting go, the more you will experience the fear and the need to want to hold on.
Just ignore it. It’s just your ego trying to stay alive. Let life be one big let go. It’s a lot more fun that way.