Saturday, March 21, 2015

Letting Go

"Full Bloom"
- Outside the Desert Retreat House -

It may only be the second day of spring but the wilderness outside my house is already in the full bloom of early spring.Yesterday I decided I had better go out onto the trails and get some pictures because this spring-bloom isn't going to last very long. In just a few weeks all those glorious yellow and gold blooms will fall from the trees giving way for the leaves to grow and the planting of seeds on the ground for new life in another season. Such a great lesson about the cycle of life - for something new to grow, something old must always die. 

The truth is that all of us are dying all the time. Scientists tell us that the healthy human body loses about 100,000 cells per second and just as many cells are subsequently reproduced.  In fact, the entire human body is regenerated every seven years; and if the old cells don't die off, making room for the new, they get in the way and block the healthy development of the body causing cancers and other diseases. 

This cycle of death and life is, of course, not only confined to the physical world- it is in fact at the core of our spiritual development.

In the Gospels, Jesus teaches his disciples;

Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a single grain.
But if it fall and dies, it bears much fruit.

I think Jesus is offering an important wisdom here that goes far beyond an analysis of the cycle of physical death and life. He is teaching something about the need to "let go" on the spiritual path- surrendering the old to make room for new life to spring up.  

As I walked on the trail yesterday, so vividly aware that the beautiful blossoms were in fact already in the process of dying, I thought about Jesus' teaching. I find it is a great truth and an enduring wisdom that in order for me to find my "new self"  I must learn  to let go of my ego-centric old self. 

When I "let go" of my old ego-centric self, I am not overly attached to anything in this life. When I "let go," I don't hoard my money or my resources, my house, my car, any of my stuff. When I "let go" I give up my long-held grudges - I surrender the memories of those times in my life when people have done wrong to me. When I "let go" I give up all my regrets about things I may have done better in my life and I surrender any lingering pain over those goals in life that I never achieved.  When I "let go" I give up trying to control what happens in my everyday living - I give up the idea that the world is supposed to go along according to the way I want it to work.

And it' true, when I "let go," new life always springs up.  The memories of the past that have strangled my joy, the burden of grudges, the anxieties over a need to control everything all die. They fall to earth and die and and this bears much fruit.

The Buddha taught:

In the end, these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?

Listen to my podcast" "Desert Wisdom"