Thursday, July 21, 2005

Learning to Let Go

I try not to kid myself: I've still got a long way to go in learning the Way of Nature. Lately, for example, I've noticed myself clutching onto these various books I've written as if they belonged to me—as if they were my property.

Well, obviously, they are not—they no more belong to me than the Presidency belongs to the Bush family; than Iraq's oil belongs to America. Whenever we mark out turf for ourselves, we plant the seeds of conflict.

So, every day of our lives, our primary job in terms of broadening understanding and supporting growth is to ask ourselves what it is that we're clutching—to identify what and where we are claiming ownership. It can be a self-image, a material possession, a person or relationship, an idea or a system of belief, or a feeling of allegiance to a nation, company, religion, or group: whatever it is, we have to learn to unclench the fist and let go.

Therefore, I tried a new meditation today, which is dedicated to that act of letting go. I did it while standing on the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan: you don't need a mysterious or sacrosanct place of ritual or immaculate spirituality; you don't have to travel to Sedona or to Chartres. You just have to suspend disbelief, retreat to your center, ask for help, and then act inwardly.

For me, this meant opening a path to what I call "image reception." This is different from visualization, in which people are trained to force a particular picture or feeling into being, according to the dictates of a Master, guru, priest, or other expert. Image reception is simply dropping the defences of ego and letting whatever arises within Mind come with its healing and growth-enhancing imagery.

The image that came to me today was of a clutching hand slowly opening wide, the fingers stretching outward, the palm fully revealed. From that opening hand came people, animals, ideas, and books that began to move quickly off the surface of the open palm and out into the soft light of an evening sky. I watched them all leave the prison of a clenched fist: as the hand opened, they walked, or rather flowed, to the edges of the hand and leaped gratefully out into the welcoming Cosmic night of freedom.

That was when it occurred to me that much of the discomfort and angina that I've been experiencing had to do with that clenched fist, holding onto to people, things, and thoughts that never really belonged to me. How could they benefit another if I kept them in my clutches, if I continued to imprison them in the closed fist of ownership?

Well, one realization I had this morning from that meditation was that it is time to let go of these books I've written. So now, if you go to my Writings page, you will find links to pdf downloads of my three completed books. All the pages on this site that once contained discontinuous excerpts from these books have now been removed. Admittedly, this may make for some dead or misdirected links around the site and within this weblog; but it's a small price to pay for enduring growth.

I'll admit that this is a simple lesson, but it is nonetheless useful. The more we own, the less we have; the more we claim, the less we are. Demand restricts the field of life, just as expectation stills the flow of Nature's gifts.

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