In our western cultural tradition, we have been
hanging on for a very long time. Should we just let go?
Let go our hopes. Let go our dreams. Let go our
Perhaps it is time to let go of all our striving? Let go of our striving to climb ever higher.
Let go of our striving for enlightenment and perfection.
Is it time to let go of our cultural imperatives
towards progress and improvement?
And the biggy. Should we let go our desire for
Has our striving for the next best thing
brought us greater joy, happiness and/or love?
Instead of seeking more and more, perhaps we could
allow ourselves to become immersed in less and less?
Maybe we could gain some insight as to how to let
go from the sages of the East.
One of Buddha’s great insights and contribution to the
world was his recognition that all suffering (also translated as discontent,
dissatisfaction, or dis-ease) is because of either attachment or aversion.
When we become attached to something (whether it be a
physical object, an ideology, or a dream) we inevitably will feel discontent.
The trick, according to Buddhism, is to hold our desires and wants
lightly. To not grasp and hold them so
tightly that we become stressed and anxious.
Grasping tightly is almost synonymous with wishing to
control. We attempt to control our environment, our surroundings, and even ourselves,
by creating boundaries, and grasping at false certainties. Nothing in this
world is certain. Yet, our wish for certainty keeps us bottled up, and held
together in a tight embrace. Ironically, the more we try to tighten that grip,
the more we shut our experiences of love, beauty, freedom, happiness, and joy.
Another useful contribution from the East helping us
to let go is the Confucian and Taoist concept of wu wei. Wu wei
could be described as the “action of inaction.” To our western ears such an
idea may sound nonsensical. It must be remembered, however, that we in the west
have been imbued with the idea of linear causality. A causes B which in turn,
causes C. Eastern (and a lot of indigenous) thinking recognises more circular
and co-dependent causal effects.
Wu wei recognises this
and suggests that our natural state is to align ourselves within the harmony of
nature. To not fight against nature or the universe, but rather, to flow with
In our current state of the world, could any of these
concepts be of use? Either personally or collectively?
I leave the reader to ponder this.