The practice of letting go


By Ajahn Brahm, the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery in Western Australia.

1.      Throw things away

Things are only heavy when you hold onto them. Is holding a stick heavy? Only when you hold it; if you can just let it go it weights nothing at all. So grab a stick or a rock and write something that you hold onto and throw it away. In your journey of life, travel lightly…don’t go traveling with a backpack full of rocks. Throw these rocks away (the future, the past, complaints etc.) Have the conviction that it can be done, and it is good to do. Only keep one thing, the present moment…what is happening now.

2.      Learning what freedom truly is

Any place you don’t want to be is your prison. There are many prisons in life. If you are reading this and you want it to end, then this is your prison. If you are in a relationship which you don’t like, your relationship is your prison. If you are in a job that is not giving you satisfaction…another prison for you. But you don’t need to change your husband or wife, you don’t even need to change your job, all you need to do is change your attitude and want to be here. When you want to be here, you are free. It doesn’t matter how painful or uncomfortable it is, as long as you want to be here…then you are free. That’s called contentment. Want to be here, wherever here happens to be.

3.      Giving

This is not ordinary giving, but giving while expecting nothing in return. Too often we expect things back in return, and that causes a huge amount of suffering in life. And our expectations never get realized. If you go into a relationship, giving and expecting nothing in return you will get a huge amount of fulfillment. The same counts for meditation, if you do it to get enlightened or to get peaceful, if you do it to expect something, there will never be any peace for you. You meditate not to get something, not to attain something, you meditate to let go. Give to life, give all your energy to this moment, expecting nothing back.  When you have no expectations life becomes so interesting. You are not demanding anything, but life gives you so much.

4.      Don’t allow things to stick to you

If you have a beautiful moment, enjoy it now and know it is going to go so you can be free for the next moment to come, not allowing the last moment to influence this one. Do not allow the past to stop you from enjoying this moment. This also counts for your prior knowledge — let it go. This way you can see things as they are, rather than see things as you are told that they are.


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