“What you resist will persist.” – Native American Proverb.
Beautiful statement, though I fully understand its difficulty with respect to implementation.
The same goes for, “Just let go, man…”
That one used to piss me off quite a bit. First of all, what exactly does that mean? Second, it’s great that I now know the secret to life and all, but how the F do I let go?
Okay Charlie, go ahead, let go… let go of all your fear and depression… let go of that annoying asshole.
Have you tried to just instantly let go of something? Yup, exactly. Miserable failure. That is why all self-help books say the exact same thing, so you only need to buy one of them, and you don’t even need to buy that one. Why? Because, sure they eloquently describe all the shit that’s wrong with us, but not one of them has ever changed me or made me feel better for any length of time.
Self-help books are short on solutions. ‘Let go, brother…’ is not gonna cut it. Can someone please tell me exactly how to do that? What is the process of letting go? How do I get there? Sure, there may be a few remedies sprinkled throughout the self-help industry, but if never applied, they’re absolutely useless. Simply reading the book won’t change me. I used to lie in bed and read some sage’s insight about how I just need to stop resisting and all my problems will instantly vanish.
Then I woke up the next morning.
I woke up in the same state of hopeless dread as the day before, not to mention the renewed lack of motivation. Just knowing the answer is completely useless. The book won’t save us. Just like a religious belief won’t save us. Belief or knowledge alone without action is useless. Without consistent practice of said remedy day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year, there is no recovering or changing or getting better. So letting go is most certainly a process.
But first, what is it?
Letting go is when I no longer care what others think of me. I no longer need the approval of my family. I no longer need approval for what I do for work, what I’m thinking, what I believe, who I’m with, etc. I no longer need to prove who I am or what I believe. I no longer need to preach because I’m okay with myself.
When someone needs to prove or preach something to others, the sad and rather unattractive truth is that they don’t entirely believe it themselves. But if we are okay, inside and out, we don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I don’t need approval, validation, credit or recognition. The day I let go was the day I stopped caring about what other people thought about what I was doing with my life. It was the day I stopped needing for my friends in recovery to see all the stuff I was doing to help others. I didn’t need to show off, or need a pat on the back, or need smoke to be blown up my ass.
And this is true peace – when you no longer need something outside of yourself to be okay. Except for God, of course…
But back to non-resistance. In Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Suzuki Roshi asserts that if you stop resisting everything, there are no problems. Why? Because other than the physical predicament of needing to feed, clothe and house oneself, just about all other wordly problems are self-created and are therefore an illusion of the mind. So Roshi suggests that we just let whatever comes, come and let whatever goes, go.
You can see this in nature. Nature gets it! I used to observe the reeds below my parents’ house when I was high on weed (yes, potheads are addicts). When the wind blew against them, they didn’t stand up stubbornly and refuse to be blown over. They just moved in any way the wind chose to blow them. Same with the ocean when a wave meets a rock. The water simply moves around the rock to any space it can find. But it doesn’t complain or whine about having to move. It doesn’t fight against what is.
In not trying to fight or control or change things, we find tremendous peace. We can relax. We’re okay.
God, teach me how to let go… to let what comes, come and what goes, go…