WHAT'S IT LIKE TO LET GO?
Its a bit of a spiritual cliché to say 'just let go' its often used in such a glib manner as to make it sound easy, which it is not. For when one consciously trys to do anything, it usually turns out not to be what you're doing at all. If a theatre director asks an actor to walk naturally across a stage, they cannot do it. Whatever walk the actor does, however natural it might seem, it is self-conscious and contrived. That's what an actor does for a living, they're accomplished fakers of behaviour and emotions. Likewise when someone says to 'just let go' the last thing you're able to do is really 'let go'. We might physically or mentally be able to fake 'letting go', but the grasp of our attachment returns the moment we stop making a conscious effort.
When anyone says 'whatever you do,just don't imagine any blue elephants' that's all you can do. So the moment you're asked to 'just let go' of anything, the first thing you'll experience is the strength and stickiness of your attachment to it. In such situations just accept this is how it is, breath and relax. For even if something is a pretence it can give us a feel for what it is being mimicked. In the same way an actor can portray a human dilemma and make it seem so real we feel moved by it. Even a faked 'letting go' can provide a glimpse of what real 'letting go' might actually be like. Practice makes perfect. At the very least its useful information. Ifwe are able to clearly observe what we are experiencing. Understanding the lived nature of our attachments in ever greater depth, does prefigure and will define how much 'letting go, turning aside or putting down' we can actually do. Its so easy to fool ourselves into believing we've let go of something, when we really haven't.
Our minds imagination envisages 'letting go' and its as if we are already there. It is almost a defining characteristic of imagination, that it can shows us things we've not yet experienced. Going beyond what we currently see, know, or are yet capable of. Our ability to 'let go' is not limited by our imagination, nor by our intellect, but by our emotions. We are often capable of changing our minds in an instant, but our emotions run on a much slower time scale than that. Emotions are more like a deeply buried underground stream, one that's guarded by a grumpy old water god whose not going to change its direction quickly. In fact he's a bit of a curmudgeon and will resist all unsolicited change with a vengeance.
Our emotional streams can be like that, deeply carved and embedded, stubborn, remote, convoluted, hard to fully know, let alone redirect. This only encourages us to continue gripping onto more recognisable things for comfort, even though we might clearly know they are doing us no good? We strangle the idea of change with the hands of fear and familiarity. We become trapped by the known, and frightened by the unknown. This is a human place of dis-ease, overly preoccupied with our dissatisfactions, regrets and mental conflicts. For whilst all this is going on, something else cannot be realised, potential cannot be tapped or released, desires or aspirations cannot be fulfilled. All movement is prevented by this emotional gridlock.
Our emotional views of ourselves and the world, form themselves into a sort of existential prison. We'd like to escape it, but the key to liberate us from the darkest dungeons of our mental habits, eludes our grasp. In this self created prison you maybe fed and clothed, but your desires are limited by the contained perspective of the dungeon itself. Everything is carefully overseen and managed by habit, Anything that fails to conform is ruthlessly repressed, controlled and sometimes killed off outright. We become both the prisoner and the prison warder.
We talk vaguely of the need to be liberated from this, without being clear how it will come about. However, the power to act remains in our own, though undoubtedly shackled, hands. It is theoretically possible to 'let go' of, 'turn aside' from, or 'put down' all of our self limiting views, habits and attachments. Though I would be the first to acknowledge that this is not a straightforward process. It takes time, perhaps a lifetime to achieve, if that!. Self-deceptions and mis-perceptions lie all around like trip hazards. The most obvious ones being; what is 'letting go' actually, and how on earth do you do it? Its inevitable then that we will be holding incorrect or wrong views about 'letting go' - over idealised 'letting go' - premature 'letting go' - inappropriate or misguided 'letting go'.Our first task then, will be to get a clearer understanding of what 'letting go, turning aside and putting down' actually means.