Let It Go
The Bible tells us that each man thinks his burden is the heaviest. For instance, the poor man looks at the rich man and envies him thinking his load in life is lighter. But, you'll recall that the fabled millionaire Scrooge spent virtually all of his time worried about people cheating him out of his fortune and was miserable. So, we see that self-pity weighs down virtually everyone. Similarly, we see that one of the most popular themes on the afternoon talk shows is "When we were in school, you made fun of me, but look at me now." And out comes either a gorgeous woman with a silicon enhanced body, and a surgically altered, cosmetic covered and hair dyed head, or a handsome, tanned, greased, and steroid enhanced muscular man.
Usually the same story is told. They were so abused by the school bully that they spent thousands of dollars and years of bodywork just to prove them wrong and get them to regret their actions. The host then brings out the villain who says that they don't even remember the person, and even though they acknowledge that the person now is not someone they would make fun of, they no longer are the type of person who would do that kind of immature hazing anyway. How anticlimactic for the person who sought to get back at the long ago bully. So, it is reasonable for us to conclude that the person seeking revenge, or whatever you want to label it, wasted their time by carrying the hurt and suffering and would have been better off if they had just gone on their merry way. Our own perceptions of our burdens are just as unreal as Scrooge's or the guests on the TV shows, and there is certainly no need for us to keep carrying our feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, and so on. Now, what can we do to cease our needless load lugging?
Our inner Chatterer is constantly labeling things and then judging them to be good or bad. We hold on to the pain and frustration of some of the things that we judge to be bad for years, and a few for the rest of our lives. This masochistic behavior is virtually always on a subconscious level. Fortunately, there is an experiential meditative concept that is a remedy for this sad paralyzing dysfunction. And that is to cease carrying negativity around and just be present, in the moment, and experience your life consciously as it takes place.
There are two ancient teaching tales that help us understand the need to quit holding onto that which we should let go of and begin the process of paying attention to what is appropriate, healthy, and happy. The first deals with the ancient story of the two monks who had taken vows of celibacy as well as their other holy obligations. As they were walking they encountered a woman crying by the side of a creek. As they approached, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she told them she feared drowning and begged them to help her get to the other side of the river so she could go to her baby. With that, one of the monks picked her up on his shoulder and carried her across the stream. After getting down, she thanked him and left. The two monks went on their way.
After a while, the monk who hadn't helped turned to the one who had helped the woman and said, "Why did you do that? We've taken vows of chastity and we're not even supposed to look at a woman, much less touch one!" He replied "When we got to the other side of the water, I put her down. Why are you still carrying her?" From this we learn that once life's events have taken place, they should not be taken with us. Our hands, heart, and mind should be open and available for the next experience that we are presented with.
The next story helps us by teaching us where to look for direction and how. Look at your life as taking a boat ride from one shore to another. Right now, we're in the boat in the middle of the lake of life. As we've traveled, the boat has left a wake. The wake is analogous to our past, and like the wake a boat leaves behind, our past does not help propel us. If we spend our time looking back at our wake, we will be unaware of and unable to do anything about any hazards we are approaching. A wise ship's captain looks ahead to the other shore, aware of the present moment, and having equipped themselves with excellent navigational skills, through a lifetime of trial, error, and learning, is confident in their competence to steer the appropriate course.
The lessons we learn from these stories are to let go and pay attention. Our inner Chatterer makes us repetitiously keep suffering from our past "bad". There is a Witness within that is ever present. It is the awareness that can, and does silently witness your mind's mentations, your emotional fluctuations, and your sense receptions. At every moment of your life, even in this very second as you read these words, by being at one with it, you have the opportunity to witness your life as it takes place.
The more you Witness, the less you Chatter. Recognize the load you are carrying, put it down and let go of all the negativity it brings. You will then fill with the ever-present "good". For each of us there is a meditative path, be it mantra, breathing techniques, asking "Who am I", or whatever, that will lead us to being aware, and be more and more at one with our inner Witness. By grace this will become our eternal divine reality. Meditate. Persevere through trial, error, and learning, and inevitably you will live happily ever after.
This article first appeared in issue #5 of our newsletter, The Inner Traveler. Subscription information is available on our Merchandise page.