Letting go is a central theme in spiritual practice, as we see the preciousness and brevity of life. Sooner or later we have to learn to let go and allow the changing mystery of life to move through us without our fearing it, without holding and grasping. Letting go and moving through life from one change to another brings the maturing of our spiritual being. In the end we discover that to love and let go can be the same thing. Both ways do not seek to possess. Both allow us to touch each moment of this changing life and allow us to be there fully for whatever arises next.
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
Mary Oliver, Mysteries, Yes
What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence.
[Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen]
Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
If as you age you become more still, you will discover that stillness can be a great companion. The fragments of your life will have time to unify, and the places where your soul-shelter is wounded or broken will have time to knit and heal. You will be able to return to yourself. In this stillness, you will engage your soul. Many people miss out on themselves completely as they journey through life. They know others, they know places, they know skills, they know their work, but tragically, they do not know themselves at all. Aging can be a lovely time of ripening when you actually meet yourself, indeed maybe for the first time.
John O’Donohue, Anam Cara
A wise way of working with difficult emotions
Rather than think about a problem and why you have it, and what you should do to get rid of it, the first piece of advice is to connect to how it feels, a careful process which has three aspects: Recognize, Accept and Refer. First, recognize: instead of a creating a long story about me and her and how things should be, turn your attention to the impact the event is having on you. You try to recognize the tone of the thought – say as ‘irritated’ or ‘prickly’ or ‘weighed down’. That simplifies matters and gets you out of your head and into your heart. Then: accept the presence of a quality that you don’t like and shouldn’t have – but do have! That relaxes the grip on the issue as well as the self who is struggling with it. This does leave you with some emotional turbulence – but you refer that to your body. As in: ‘How is my body feeling with this?’ ‘Where is this in my body right now?’ or even ‘Where is my body now?’ ( No, not your address, but are you conscious of your body as it feels, rather than thinking about it, or yourself.)
With these steps, you put aside the strategy of solving and understanding – all that is psycho-code for aversion and getting rid of and is based on the view that these phenomena are me and mine, and that me and mine can fix them. And that’s not so, otherwise you would have done so by now. Instead connect – only spread a patient and sympathetic awareness over the stress, only connect the mental to the embodied aspect; only feel the feeling directly as a feeling.
Ajahn Sucitto, Only Connect – the wise angel
What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
David Whyte, The Winter of Listening [extract]
The nature of experience itself is change and movement, and this is why so many of us find that we’re to one degree or another being knocked off balance and losing our sense of equanimity. The entire world seems to be shifting, and it seems to be happening very, very quickly. So if we’re looking for a relative stillness, if we’re looking for all of this change and movement to stop, we’re always going to be frustrated, because this kind of stillness is elusive, very hard to maintain, and it can slip away in any given moment. Instead of trying to control our minds or environments by contracting or hiding in order to find this inner stillness, we must throw our senses wide open – listening, feeling, seeing – and become very wide and vast.
When you welcome all of experience into your awareness, a certain type of stillness starts to emerge organically.