Turn Back YOUR Clock with Christiane Northrup

A Zen Master Explains The Art Of ‘Letting Go’, And It Isn’t What You Think

Posted by on September 2, 2019 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 1 Comment

By Christina Sarich | Waking Times

Thich Naht Hanh, the Zen Buddhist master, has some interesting advice about what it means to truly let go. Many people mistake detachment or non-clinging to be a form of aloofness or emotional disconnect from others, but as Hanh explains, truly letting go often means loving someone more than you have ever loved them before.

The Buddha taught that detachment, one of the disciplines on the Noble Path, also called ariyasaavaka, is not a physical act of withdrawal or even a form of austerity. Though the Buddha teaches of a “non-action which is an integral part of the Right Way,” if it is taken out of context it can give the impression that we should develop a lack of concern for others, and that we should live without truly feeling or expressing our emotions – cutting ourselves off from life.

These type of misinterpretations are sadly common since there are not always direct translations from the Paali language into English.

This form of “detachment” is an erroneous understanding of the Buddha’s message. Master Hanh states that to truly let go we must learn to love more completely. Non-attachment only happens when our love for another extends beyond our own personal expectations of gain, or our anticipation of a specific, desired outcome.

Hanh describes four forms of complete detachment, which surprisingly, aren’t about holing yourself up in a cave and ignoring everyone who has broken your heart, or ignoring your lust or desire for a romantic interest. This is not detachment. Letting go means diving in. For example:

Maitri (Not the Love You Know)

Hanh describes the importance of Maitri, not love as we normally understand in a Westernized use of the word. He states,

“The first aspect of true love is Maitri (Metta, in Pali), the intention and capacity to offer joy and happiness. To develop that capacity, we have to practice looking and listening deeply so that we know what to do and what not to do to make others happy. If you offer your beloved something she does not need, that is not Maitri. You have to see her real situation or what you offer might bring her unhappiness.”

In other words, your detachment may come in accepting that certain things you would normally do to make another person feel loved and appreciated may not be what the person you are actively loving now, needs. Instead of forcing that behavior on another person, with an egoic intent to “please” them, you simply detach from that need in yourself and truly observe what makes another person feel comfortable, safe, and happy.

Hanh further explains,

We have to use language more carefully. “Love” is a beautiful word; we have to restore its meaning. The word “Maitri” has roots in the word Mitra which means friend. In Buddhism, the primary meaning of love is friendship.”

Karuna (Compassion)

The next form of true detachment is compassion. When we let go, we don’t stop offering a compassionate touch, word, or deed to help someone who is in pain. We also don’t expect to take their hurt or pain away. Compassion contains deep concern, though. It is not aloofness It is not isolation from others.

The Buddha smiles because he understands why pain and suffering exist and because he also knows how to transform it. You become more deeply involved in life when you become detached from the outcome, but this does not mean you don’t participate fully – even in others’ pain.

Gratitude and Joy

In truly letting go you practice gratitude. Mudita or joy arises when we are overcome with gratitude for all that we have, such that we no longer cling to some other longed-for result. Buddha’s definition of joy is more like “Unselfish joy.” It means that we don’t only find happiness when something good happens to us, but when others find happiness.

If you’ve ever had to say goodbye to a love or friend so that they could continue on their life’s path – one that may not have continued to intertwine with your own – you may have felt pain when they found someone new to love, or made a new friend that seemed to take your place. This is not true detachment. Joy arises when you find happiness even when others find joy – and it has little or nothing to do with you.

Upeksha (Equanimity)

Master Hanh describes the final quality of true love which sheds inordinate light on the true process of letting go.

He states,

The fourth element of true love is upeksha, which means equanimity, non-attachment, nondiscrimination, even-mindedness, or letting go. Upa means “over,” and iksha means “to look.” You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other. If your love has attachment, discrimination, prejudice, or clinging in it, it is not true love.

People who do not understand Buddhism sometimes think upeksha means indifference, but true equanimity is neither cold nor indifferent. If you have more than one child, they are all your children. Upeksha does not mean that you don’t love. You love in a way that all your children receive your love, without discrimination.”

Hanh explains that without this quality our love tends to become possessive – a stomping ground of the ego. We try to put our beloved in our pocket and carry them with us when they are more like the wind, or a butterfly, or a stream, needing to move and flow, or risk dying. This is not loving, this is destruction.

For love to be true love, it must have elements of compassion, joy, and equanimity – and this is truly letting go.

The Art of Letting Go is Artless

The real secret is that letting go is not an art, it is an allowing, a being. A non-attached relationship is healthy, strong and filled with effortless love, kindness, and compassion. It is completely selfless because your sense of ‘self’ is no longer asserted in every situation. If you want to truly let go, you’ve got to love more, not less. This is the most common misunderstanding about this priceless teaching of the Buddha.

About the Author

Christina Sarich is a staff writer for Waking Times. She is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. PriceNexusAtlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others. She was recently a featured author in the Journal, “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and Healing Arts,” and her commentary on healing, ascension, and human potential inform a large body of the alternative news lexicon. She has been invited to appear on numerous radio shows, including Health Conspiracy Radio, Dr. Gregory Smith’s Show, and dozens more. The second edition of her book, Pharma Sutra, will be released soon.

This article (A Zen Master Explains the Art of ‘Letting Go’, And It Isn’t What You Think) was originally created for The Mind Unleashed and is published here with permission. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio.

Read more Great articles at Waking Times.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

1 Reader Comment

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. Love2bmindful@gmail.com' Maryrose says:

    Wonderful article. I thing for the most part I agree with everything. However I differ in my interpretation first concept. I believe when Thay is says it important for us to see. “the real situation or what you offer might bring unhappiness” he means sometimes it’s good not to offer something that makes the other person feel “happy, comfortable and safe.” Sometimes making someone feel those things will lead to them to have further unhappiness. An example would be an adult child who does not want to leave home and become independent. Even though it may make him feel unhappy, uncomfortable and unsafe, at first when he is asked to leave and support himself, parents should still do so to promote his overall independence. Sometimes the deepest joy arrives by allowing a person to take risks even if initially causes him unhappiness. The trick is to be sure what you are offering is sincerely going to be the right thing and the right thing sometimes means allowing others to experience some degree of suffering without shielding them.

New Title

NOTE: Email is optional. Do NOT enter it if you do NOT want it displayed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top

Send this to a friend