A Buddhist Monastery in Seoul, Korea
This weekend we did a lot of housecleaning. Over the years we had accumulated boxes and boxes of old photographs and various memorabilia of our life together over these many years. We went through the boxes and cleaned out the closets. As I was placing some of the discarded boxes into the trash bin, I reflected upon the virtue of "letting go" in this very impermanent life we live as human beings.
As I placed those boxes of memories in the trash bin, I recalled my last day at the church I served in Los Angeles. I had been the parish priest for eight years. It was my life's work- all encompassing. I did my best, worked hard, loved what I was doing, but then one day it was all over. We had a party. I turned in my keys, and we moved away into the next chapter of life.
While there was sadness in leaving it all, there was also freedom in it. Nothing is permanent, nothing lasts forever - so don't cling onto anything or anyone too tightly.
I have probably learned most about "letting go"" through my study of Buddhism. A principle tenet of Buddhism is that everything in this life is impermanent, so don't hold on too tightly. This includes our relationships with other people - don't hold onto people too tightly - even people we love, our children, spouses, parents.
The Dalai Lama once said:
Remember that the best relationship is one in which
your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Love demands that we fully embrace the other without holding the other in a vice-like grip. The sure way to kill a relationship is to smother and try to control the ones we love.
So I joyfully place all the old photographs into the trash bin. I let it all go. I live and love now in the present with an open heart and with open arms. And there is perfect freedom in a love that gives all to the other, but never holds on too tightly in this impermanent life.