A short reflection on the act of letting go
– There is no beginning without an ending –
On all those journeys, where was I going? Have I ever arrived, have I ever departed? Where does a journey start, where does it end? When is it that a journey really begins? Isn’t it when we let go?
In a forever mysterious way, movement itself is not difficult at all? Once we move, it’s effortless. If it’s not, when it’s clumsy or awkward or painful, we haven’t let go yet. The essence of letting go is not the effort to open your holding fingers, overcoming the force of holding with the greater force of opening; it is the cessation of the effort to hold. Letting go is not an action at all, it is not stillness either, it is the end of doing something, it is what makes an action complete. In order to be able to let go, one has first to know that he’s holding. And all it takes is just observation, paying attention; there is no effort involved. Then it is nothing but intention, this sublime point at the center of awareness where freedom exists, where we actually can say yes or no.
In order to begin moving, one has to stop resisting movement. Our trouble is that we interfere, that we have preferences, that we love or hate what’s on the way, that we get entangled in what just happens and flows and hang on and want more of the first and less of the second. We are slaves to our preferences.
We spend our lifetime resisting this effortless flow, it is our nature to grasp or reject what passes by and to waste our energy doing this obsessive sorting-out business, instead of just paying attention to the journey.
Imagine the liberation from the lifelong futile struggle to seek satisfaction by trying to reconstruct the world according to our preferences, and finding the alternative satisfaction that comes from just relaxing into the experience of the present moment that is immediately available without any effort. And doing this is letting go.
Letting go: this “non-action” we need a lifetime to practice, the highest skill of all, the ultimate secret of happiness; it is noticing the interference and, in the very same moment, casting our fate into the wind, resuming The Journey.
The beginning of a journey is not when we step through the door, look ahead, and start moving. It’s when we look back and close the door behind us – in a most radical way, when we burn our bridges behind us.
And what I mean by journey has really no beginning or ending. It’s a timeless, dimensionless affair, and it takes place all the time. We were long on our way when we woke up one day and noticed that we didn’t know where we were going.
It seems to be our nature to resist the journey, but it is also our nature that we have this incredible gift to learn and understand our nature. We are free, free to decide to participate – no matter what – or resist and suffer.
Klaus written and revised between the 1990s and Dec. 2010