If you let go a little
you will have a little happiness.
If you let go a lot
you will have a lot of happiness.
If you let go completely
you will be free.
The Path to Freedom
One of the essential tasks for living a wise life is letting go. Letting go is the path to freedom. It is only by letting go of the hopes, the fears, the pain, the past, the stories that have a hold on us that we can quiet our mind and open our heart.
We can trust the courage and vulnerability of our heart to meet life as it is – we can rest kindly where we are. As we let go, the tender ground of honesty, healing, and love will carry us through the ever-changing world.
Letting Go of the Past
Letting go doesn’t mean losing the knowledge we have gained from the past. The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit. Like emptying a cup, letting go leaves us free to receive – refreshed, sensitive, and awake.
Letting go isn’t the same as aversion, struggling to get rid of something. We cannot genuinely let go of what we resist. What we resist and fear secretly follows us even as we push it away. To let go of fear or trauma, we need to acknowledge just how it is. We need to feel it fully and accept that it is so. It is as it is.
Letting go begins with letting be. When we learn to let things be, they gradually lose their power – they cease to disturb us.
As we allow what is true, space comes into the body and mind. We breathe and soften and come to rest. In accepting it, we become free.
The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace
Kornfiled is a teacher in the vipassana movement in American Theravada Buddhism. He trained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, Burma, and India, first as a student of the Thai forest master Ajahn Chah, and Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma.
He has taught meditation worldwide since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist Mindfulness practice to the West. In 1975, he co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, with Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein, and subsequently in 1987, Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California.
Kornfield has organized teacher training and led international gatherings of Buddhist teachers including the Dalai Lama and has worked as a peacemaker and activist.