Letting Go

Tao Te Ching – Chapter 9

This is a path of letting go
so there will be room to live.
If we hold on to our opinions,
our minds will become dull and useless.
Let go of opinions.
If we hold on to possessions,
we will always be at risk.
Let go of possessions.
If we hold on to ego,
we will continue to suffer.
Let go of ego.

Working without thought
of praise or blame is the way
to true contentment.

I worked for praise most of my life and, sure enough, contentment remained elusive. It wasn’t a conscious pursuit and I didn’t think of myself as particularly ego-centric. The sought-after praise was primarily an inside job. External praise was nice, but it was the inner voice of my conditioned mind that kept me in constant disquiet. How much praise is enough? Does blame diminish the supply so that one must add more praise to balance things? Certainly my conditioned mind bestowed praise grudgingly, always accompanied by a qualifying addition that I could do better. Blame has always been bestowed much more generously

To let go of any mental habit is difficult. Ultimately I realized that I must let go even of the idea of letting go. Letting go is, in the final analysis, a function of the ego. After all, “Who is it that is letting go?” Only the ego perceives the need to let go and that is the one thing that the poor ego cannot do.

I’m resolving this paradox by the basic meditative practice of simply watching my ego from a distance. There are many ego personas, each one hiding behind another. But the ego, I find, is not an infinite regression in my mind. There is a place within me where the ego ceases. At that place is Something which is not my ego. I call this place my Tao Mind. This Mind doesn’t need to let go of anything because nothing sticks to it in the first place. It sees and experiences everything, but holds on to nothing. This is the true and proper Mind of a human being.

3 thoughts on “Letting Go”

  1. Thank you, Bill

    Post not accepting my “like”. The website I am assigned to, “sagebrush something or other” is one I do not use and I don’t know how to deactivate it. I will figure it out. Anyway, always appreciate your writing.

    Haiku I wrote a while ago;

    letting go
    of letting go
    apple blossoms

    Mike Stinson


  2. Letting go sure seems to be the theme for this part of my life. While I am pleased with some aspects of embodying the flow of letting go, at this stage it’s mostly a yearning and an aspiration. It’s happening in some ways, mostly in internal thought processes. However in some big, external ways I’m feeling caught in the responsibilities and commitments of having participated in the American dream. Exiting with good stewardship and finding common ground with my wife is a complicated and long process.


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