We are attached rather deeply to our feelings. We are beings of strong beliefs. We worry about our loved-ones, friends, our careers, our finances and our health. The attachments to these fundamental aspects of our lives can bring us joy and suffering. More often than not they are the source of our suffering.
To quote Yoga-Vasishtha, the whole concern of our lives is to desire and to be doing, and then back to desiring again; but when all restless craving is rooted out of the mind, it becomes free from all anxieties…..Our desires our dislikes are two apes living in the tree of our hearts; while they continue to shake and agitate it, with their jogging and jolting, there can be no rest for it.
Ironically we are often obsessed and attached to aspects of life over which we have no control. This leads to an understandable frustration. Our minds are the source of this pain. When we let go of these obsessive fear and worries we can find peace. Because we habitually and naturally slip back into this mental and emotional turmoil we need to remind ourselves of its futility.
Letting go of attachments is not the same as ignoring or not caring. Because we care too much we need to be our own gurus. Sometimes we need to “overcorrect” our tendencies in order to establish a balance in our understanding.
So letting go should not result in feelings of guilt for not caring enough. Some of us live under the illusion that only by worrying will we prevent misfortune or adversity from occurring. That fallacy of thinking leads to the constant suffering that we seek to avoid.
Life will take us on a journey which is only partially within our control. Once we have examined our situation and done our best to set into motion our corrections and fixes, we need to release our attachments to the outcome.
Serenity comes with this awareness. It is the ultimate healing.
The most precious words of wisdom, the Serenity Prayer guides me to find peace amidst the chaos and angst of my life by abandoning the insistence that I should or even could control the world around me.
This acceptance of what I “cannot change” brings me fully to the Winter of 2014. As I sit before my laptop and gaze upon the white silence that surrounds me I am brought humbly to that radical acceptance of that reality. Of course I have done what I can to anticipate what might occur. I have attempted to weigh and measure the possibilities of moving forward in my professional and personal life. And yet there remains a great unknown of which I have no power to control. The first one or two snow storms were “interesting” distractions. Then I became deeply annoyed at the inconvenience and chaos that has resulted. Now I have “given up”. I have no choice.
There is a sense of peace that follows this acceptance. It is an awareness that I are not an entirely passive being who is tossed by the winds of chance and do nothing to assert my will when necessary. That is a given. But when my feeble attempts reach an impenetrable resistance, it is time to let go.
It is true of much of what becomes conflict and stress in my life. I suffer because I become attached to disappointments, frustrations, failures which cannot be remediated. Healing then becomes a self-directed action. I will not be healed until I accept what cannot be changed. To re-play the past, to flagellate myself over missed opportunities, comments I should have made, actions I didn’t perform only leads to suffering in the present moment. Imperfection is natural. The desire to overcome imperfection is natural as well. Learning from past errors is the reason to remember them. The ability to release the emotional baggage of past mistakes is the lesson of radical acceptance. Optimism for the future necessitates releasing fear over what might happen. Being in the moment is possible when my homework is done and I have done the best I can to learn from the past and plan for the future.
Then I let it go and watch the white.