I was sitting on the couch yesterday meditating on the relationship between my mother and my stepfather, and I realised that many of the things we feel emotional turmoil about are also due to us not letting go. Pride, wanting to be loved, wanting to have ones environment in a certain shape, they are all certain ideals which we carry around with ourselves, and these ideals are things we hold on to.
There is a story from Da Free John’s book The Knee of Listening which I think captures the process of letting go rather well. It seems that if you tell your hand to make a fist, and then squeeze that fist, and continue telling your hand to make a tight fist, that after about twenty minutes you can’t relax your hand anymore. It has gotten used to being a fist. Then you have to gradually keep telling your hand to relax and spread. That process of relaxing tight knotted things, that is letting go.
So how do we let go of ideals? I think we have to consider what we find beautiful, what we find ugly, all these ideals and judgments we can let go, it can all be disposed of, relaxed. It is actually not necessary. Only then do we come to an original way of looking.
It is a contrast, my mother does push my stepfather around, she motivates him to stay engaged. It is not a relationship in which both parties are focussed on letting go. Neither of them is Buddhist, they believe they learnt their bit from spirituality long ago, they are now 71 and 83 years old respectively and have settled in to being householders. So I see the emotional turmoil that their attachment in their relationship causes, and i occasionally point them to letting go, but they are not open to considering these things.
The thief left it behind
At my window
To let go is to flow like water ...However for the most part it would seem, through unwholesome clinging/grasping habit patterns we have become a stagnant pond, where slime ( in the form of defilements) starts to accumulate (aka attachments)...and when one finally manages to see their own reflection in the stagnated pond , this so it would seem is when they start to search for a way to release the captured/stagnant water, and in doing so, it gradually starts to flow becoming crystal clear...
From what I gather, the aim of Dharma practice is to become like pure water that keeps on flowing...running clear...
Again the "M" word comes to mind...
Mindfulness is the ability to know what's happening in your head in any given moment without getting carried away by it !
Ideals are things one has in mind eg expectations ( something to happen in the future) ...one's wants & desires for things to change/to be different from what they are now...
I don't think one can force others to see their own reflection...Others can only see their own reflections when they are ready to acknowledge them...
That is true. However ...
It is a good idea to take on more ideals. Be careful. For example:
Just know that the enemy of good enough is perfect.
Can you please elaborate on your comment @pegembara
Better late than never...
The aphorism "perfect is the enemy of good enough" has been played out to tragic effect in the US's inadequate testing for the coronavirus, according to researchers calling for quick tests that cost only about a dollar each, and which may not be as accurate but can be carried out several times a week by the whole population.
Indeed, better late then never. But the process of getting older is often a process of holding on, not of letting go, i seem to observe. People fool themselves into thinking they are still as capable as when they were younger, and do their level best to hold on to those illusions.
Most Meditation practices are approached with just enough effort to lesson some of our conditioned responses to phenomena in order to provide some salve to our suffering but are fearfully reigned back whenever any real challenge to the substrate of our own identity arises.
What meditator doesn't instinctively know what attachment makes up that substrate that they are simply not yet willing to fully face?
If only we could face our own attachments as effectively as we think others should be able to face their own.
There I was chopping water and carrying wood when I was reminded by @how ...
of the simple detachment from others ...
In other words we can not save the curly whirled until we have unravelled our nut tightenings. Surprisingly our very simple being is one of the most profound effects on others unfolding. One day we may carry the whole wood and separate the would from the trees.
However what about the water? Under the bridge. Passing clouds. The pail ocean.