Article in Stretton Focus, April 2016
We are all subject to aging, illness and various forms of loss. Our human reaction to the inevitable pain of life is to suffer. We tend to dwell on the bad things that have happened to us: we can’t seem to let go, and this is not good for our health. The self-induced stress raises our blood pressure; and can have a detrimental effect on those around us.
Buddhists would say if we can let go of our reactions we can eventually attain Nirvana, which is not a place, but a state of mind. The Dalai Lama shows how this can be done.
He will not let himself hate the Chinese Communists for what they have done to Tibet. He says “They have taken so much, why should I let them also take my peace of mind?”
Buddhism tells us ‘Do what you can to restore the balance: if you can’t, let things take their course; go with the flow of life, and move on.‘ We don’t need to be a Buddhist in order to let go. Hopefully every night, in a small way, we can let go when we surrender ourselves to sleep, letting go of the day.
If we need an operation, we let go of consciousness, and surrender ourselves to the skill of the surgeon. Parents continually have to let go of their children, to a baby-sitter, to school and college, and often to a job abroad. On retirement, older people let go of their position in life.
It is perhaps more difficult to let go of bad feelings and resentments. If we can let go of old ideas, we can make room for new ones. The ultimate in letting go is Death, which can be hard for the person dying, and for those left behind.
This process of letting go requires patience; it won’t happen overnight; but if we can do it, it will enable us to grow. Letting go is a form of surrender. Some people even surrender themselves to God, trusting in the power of God to see them through life. At least in learning to ‘let go’ we might become more at peace with ourselves.