Many think of letting go as either a psychological process or a sacrifice. We’re often told to ‘let go’ of struggles and desires after things don’t work out. Buddhist teachings can advocate us to ‘let go’ of attachments. Though this is in essence a very positive thing, in many I’ve tried to help these thoughts can lead to a subtle force of conformity directed at the Self. There is a sense that one should change in order to let go. One should conform to the image of non-attachment. However, this creates a backlash: any kind of desire to change one’s self causes resistance in response. This was part of the true teaching of Siddhartha Gautama, which has been left to us as ‘desire causes suffering’.
Instead of thinking of letting this way, look at it in a new light: as surrender. That is, as the release of all expectations and desires to control the experiences in life. In letting go, there is a complete surrender and trust to the expansive magnitude of the present moment. This is a space which can be called “The Void”, as described in a previous post. Because of the absence of expectations and control, there is an expanse of pure openness present. This is like the darkness before the dawn; anything can come from that space. It is a supply of pure potential, of mythology and dreams and abandon all at once. The birth of the universe is literally there when there is no attempt at control, and new directions in life can appear in a moment’s notice. These are the benefits of ‘dark nights of the soul’.
In my own life, this has been a great season for letting go. I got let go from my job, I’m having a serious illness where I can’t walk without stumbling and get disoriented easily from walking a few hundred feet. Long seated emotions from abuse in childhood have been coming up along with all the emotions attached to them – volumes of sadness, rage, and self-hatred. Even though these changes have limited me in so many ways â???? my career, health, and emotional well being â???? there is not a helpless feeling surrounding them. In a strange way, surrender is extremely empowering.
Surrendering completely to an experience is something that requires great trust. For instance, say I am having doubts as to myself being a ‘good person’ because of childhood abuse. I have angry, shameful, and painful feelings towards myself and others, and the thoughts arising from this feeling-world are in conflict : some believe these feelings and support them, while others don’t and say that these conclusions are wrong. The thoughts are at war. I may create affirmations for myself surrounding my own worth, but these merely support one side in this war. Even if that side wins, it will only be a temporary victory; no one can ever destroy any part of themselves, only suppress it for a time. Surrender goes beyond sides; it goes beyond duality. It is seeing the oneness of both ‘sides’, and inviting this into a daily experience.
True surrender involves letting go of all preconceived notions. This means that to surrender to the experience of self-doubt, anger and shame, one must let go of any thoughts that joy is better â???? or even that joy exists. For that one terrifying moment of true surrender, there is nothing else other than the experience in front of you. If it is pain, there is nothing but pain. If there are attacking thoughts, there is nothing but them. There is an openness to concluding that I’m ‘bad’ if that’s what I see. All of this arises from an immense soul-driven commitment to know the truth about Self, no matter what.
It is the desire for Truth above all else that drives us to know Love.
The paradox of surrender is that the more you surrender to uncomfortable experiences, the more you will rest in joy. This is not truly a paradox, but merely an expression of what joy is, as also described previously. Joy is your natural state; a state of not resisting. Whenever there is no resistance, no matter what is the experience, there will be a quality of joy.
This also relates to what knowing is. Within the experience of surrender, which is to say within the experience of not knowing, is a deep knowledge. This is beyond the knowledge of things, of labels, of science and form. This is the knowledge of experience, of seeing how the flow of life moves within you. It is this knowledge that forever ingrains a fundamental trust in the universe, and it is this trust which dispels fear.
Put more succinctly:
Only those who are certain of nothing can ever truly Know.