Letting go

One night in the middle of the night I was looking through a beautiful book a friend sent me, The Blue Heron Book Of Love And Gratitude. And there, on page 39, was my spiritual autobiography, in these words from psychologist William James.

“The transition from tenseness, self-responsibility, and worry, to equanimity, receptivity, and peace, is the most wonderful of all those shiftings of inner equilibrium, those changes of the personal center of energy, which I have analyzed so often; and the chief wonder of it is that it so often comes about, not by doing, but by simply relaxing and throwing the burden down.”

That’s just how it (finally) happened. I relaxed and threw the burden down. Or, I didn’t even need to throw it down; I shrugged it off. But like so many of the things we learn, it can’t be passed on to others merely by telling them about it. We have to test for ourselves whether a thing is true or not.

I remember, so well, way back in 1971, standing waiting for a bus to take me to work, reading, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” and wondering if it could be true; hoping so desperately that it was true; wondering if it would be foolish to assume that it was true and live in anticipation. I had received the word, I was open to it being true, but until I experienced it, it was only a hope, a promise, not a reality. Yet I had to remain open to that promise, or block myself from entering that future!

As it happened, my first teacher entered my life within a few weeks, disguised as the friend of a friend. It took a while for me to grow to the point that I could recognize him for what he was. Another way to say it is, when I was ready, I could recognize the teacher who was already there waiting for me to open my eyes.

Similarly, we can throw down the burden of tension and worry whenever we can persuade ourselves that we can. It’s a matter of letting go, and sounds too easy to be true, but isn’t.


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