Sometimes, things planted many years only make sense and bear fruit much later. Autumn teaches the virtue of waiting:
what falls away with ease.
Not only the heavy apple,
but also the dried brown strands
of autumn iris from their core.
To let your body
love this world
that gave itself to your care
in all of its ripeness,
and will take itself from you
in equal ripeness and ease,
is also harvest.
And however sharply
you are tested –
this sorrow, that great love –
it too will leave on that clean knife.
Jane Hirshfield, Ripeness
The paradox of our practice is that the most effective way of transformation is to leave ourselves alone. The more we let everything be just what it is, the more we relax into an open, attentive awareness of one moment after another
Barry Magid, Leave yourself Alone
Giving up some conditioned behaviour patterns is also good:
You didn’t come onto this earth as a perfectionist or control freak. You weren’t born a person of cringe and contraction. You were born as energy, as life, made of the same stuff as stars, blossoms, breezes. You learned contraction to survive, but that was then. You have paid through the nose — paid but good. It is now your turn to reap.
I never used to take my turn. I always gave my turn away. I helped others have a great turn. I must have had a clipboard by the time I was six, because by then I had a whole caseload of people to keep track of. After they had all gotten a turn, then maybe I could go, if there was time and it didn’t bother anyone.
Now I take my turn, as a radical act.
Anne Lamott, Stitches
More on letting go of the normal importance we give to our thoughts.
Emptiness here means a way of perceiving in which one simply notes “There is this”, without adding the presuppositions we usually add to experience in order to make sense of it.
Go straight to the empty and free and vast,
With no pondering what to think.
The previous thought is already extinct,
The following thought does not arise,
The present thought is itself empty.
T’aego, 1301 – 1382. Korean Seon (Zen) Master
Autumn means letting go. A good place to start is with self-critical thoughts:
When thought has no customers, thought vanishes.
Nisargadatta Maharaj 1897 – 1981
It is good to tune into the energy of each season and live in harmony with it. In autumn we move from the expansive nature of summer to a more internal, introspective focus, setting limits, conserving and harvesting. A good time to let go of the unrealistic demands we place on ourselves.
There is a Japanese saying: The elbow does not bend outward.
It is a smart saying. The freedom of the elbow, the wonderfulness of the elbow, is precisely because of its limitations. This is our awakened attitude. We are free to be completely human. We are not free to be aliens or cartoon creatures.
We are free to be ourselves, with all of our imperfections and bruises.
Jason Shulman, The Instruction Manual for Receiving God