Freedom from Grasping and Attachment: Part 2 - The Three Stages of Letting Go
To live a life free of attachment, clinging and perpetual grasping is to live a truly happy life. Meditation aids us in examining the areas of our life where we cling and grasp. Doing so will enable us to clear away unhealthy desires so that we make room for what is good and beneficial for a happy, healthy way of life.
The letting go of attachment, and clinging to self, occur in stages that can be clearly recognized. They are, in fact, the stages to awakening. These three stages of letting go are the 3 stages of transformation that lead to awakening, or awareness beyond the limits of an egocentric sense of self. In order to experience true happiness in our lives we must first learn what happiness really is.
“To be full of things is to be empty of God, to be full of God is to be empty of things”
- Mistier Eckhart
Chaos, the experience of the ego based sense of self. It is the chaos and confusion we experience through our own ignorance. This is the chaos of an unexamined, untrained mind. The unmanaged habits or conditioned mental patterns of the ego (Mundane Self) run wild.
The mind of suffering (Dukkha). This is the experience of suffering we all share, it is the result of a chronically stressed mind. Stressed by the anxiety of fear and self-personalized reactivity and of neuroses which create chaos, conflict and stress.
To seek refuge through the attitude of "Detachment". It is not from detachment of Dharma, or from passionate involvement in the task at hand, it is detachment from “outcome"; finding contentment in the quality of intention.
The spiritual practitioner lives unfettered by unhealthy desire. Neither elated by good fortune or depressed by bad, always finding emotional balance in the middle way. The mind at ease sees clearly because it is unfettered by disturbance, obscurity and separation. They are always mindful of Eckhart’s wise council:
"Hold on tightly, and the world becomes a fearsome place full of demons. Let go lightly, the world becomes a paradise full of wonders, full of angels."
Holding on too tightly, or grasping for an object interferes with one's ability to truly know it, to see it for whatever it actually is. Letting go means acceptance of that truth without attachment to the outcome or concern for the unknown, the mystical. This is finding beauty that can even be revealed through sorrow. This is embracing the light as well as the shadow. Success in this respect is measured in the ability to bring out what is best in you and has nothing to do with worldly recognition.
Liberated from attachment, we are free to experience what Shantideva described as "Non-referential Ease". This is the freedom experienced when ego is no longer at the center of your attention. No more tension, anxiety or posturing. We are know free to identify exclusively with our divine sense of self or our Buddha Nature. It does not mean that we are anything special, we are just free to be who we really are, our authentic selves. This is liberation, this is Nirvana.