Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Knowing How to Let Go

Here are my notes from talk given by Gil on 3rd Noble Truth, during our retreat:

The 3rd Noble Truth is about letting go of craving. Letting go happens a thousand times a day. We only need to focus on developing what we are already doing. This is a different view from traditional view of 4 Noble Truths as religious teachings that we need to import into our life. We need to export what we are doing instead. Some areas are easy to let go of. In some other areas it is difficult but possible with the right effort. In others, it is not possible the way we are right now, but we can prepare for it. Even when it is very challenging to let go, we can prepare by letting go around the edges, not attacking the craving directly at first. Sometimes by chipping away at the outside, we can work our way to the middle, eg, paying attention to the fear of the fear, as opposed to going directly into the fear. 

We need to understand, study, how to let go, and also for the heart to appreciate letting go. It is like developing the muscle of letting go. It is important to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy ways of letting go

The 4 unhealthy ways of letting go:
1) people unnecessarily letting go of all of their money, or sexuality, when what is necessary instead is to let go of clinging to object, but not the object itself.
2) letting go out of duty, obligation, or excessive politeness.
3) "I don't count", self-diminishing, self-effacing way of letting go, eg, I do not really deserve that chocolate.
4) Letting go out of aversion, or fear, eg, letting go of desires.

The 4 healthy ways of letting go:
1) letting go of something, eg, conceit, identity, fear, clinging to chocolate . . . (the most common form).
2) letting something be, ie, letting go of movement of not letting things be, of our taking agency; letting ourselves be as we are; finding a place of stillness within our awareness; letting breathing or sounds come to you.
3) letting something in, ie, to trust, to not resist, to let in what we are holding off at bay, eg, sorrow, suffering, love; letting go of resistance.
4) letting go into something, eg diving into a pool; we can let go of agitation into a feeling of calm and peace.

Healthy letting go begins with having wisdom and healthy understanding. Best is to catch clinging as it is arising rather than wait for full blown clinging attack. The body is a great treasure that way. We can be mindful of how physically we clutch on in different parts of the body. If we can't let go of psychological holding on, we can start letting go of physical tension. At a minimum we can hold area of physical tension in awareness. 

The cessation of suffering through cessation of clinging can take place consciously or not. For instance during a retreat, one can play cat and mouse game with clingings, ie waiting for clinging to go away, when in fact clinging may just go away on its own without us noticing. 

Such a profound interpretation of the 3rd Noble Truth. Harmonizing, reconciliatory, simple, . . . 


  1. Wonderful explanation! Many thanks.

  2. Yes, I love the new light it sheds on the teachings, the idea that all we need is patch up those moments throughout the day when we step out of our otherwise internally free state. Positivity is nothing new :)

  3. Your list of the 4 unhealthy ways of letting go is very good - and thought provoking. The first one .... money, or sexuality,... is a zinger.


  4. Right. Although transmitted through you, still highly provocative. Thanks for your excellent note-taking.

  5. this is the correct way to practice spirituality