When we take a moment to look at our own relationship to life, we may discover we are constantly trying to manage people and circumstances to fit our narrative on how the world should be. When people don’t behave the way we want, we get agitated; when events don’t go our way, we get angry or disappointed. If everybody would just behave properly and the way we want them to, we say to ourselves, then we would finally have inner peace.
This fundamental error – to look outwardly for our happiness, peace and joy – is what causes so much resistance. If only I had a bigger house, a better job, find my soulmate, buy a cooler car…then I’ll be happy! If they look deeper within, it’s not the actual thing or person they really want but rather the feeling it derives. Because once they discover the house has a leak, or the boss is a jerk or their perfect boyfriend has a wandering eye, their illusory perfect world comes crashing down. But for most of us, that doesn’t deter us and the search continues on, raising the stakes and elevating expectations. Our elusive happiness is out there, we believe, if we could just manage our circumstances better. This cycle can go on for an entire lifetime as the inevitable fleeting nature of all things is temporal.
But if we pause and take the time to investigate and look inward, we discover all we really want is to feel okay inside. We buy all these things and try to create an environment in a desperate attempt to feel okay inside. To that end, our relationship to life is to look outward for inner peace. We believe our happiness lies somewhere out there, in a soulmate or bigger house or fancy car. It’s a futile construct that always leaves us with a sense of lack. It also keeps our focus and hope for a better life always on the future rather than the present. So, what breaks this pattern within us? Suffering. Adversity is the greatest catalyst for growth. Typically, a crisis or health scare is the catalyst, but it also can just be the futility of not feeling happy despite being surrounded by material wealth. Suffering is necessary until it no longer is. This is because suffering transmutes into consciousness and opens the light to awareness. It’s like cracking an egg open to reveal the light.
Once we have that opening, that conscious awareness, we quickly realize the limitations and constraints we’ve placed on ourselves. As we begin to still our noisy mind and listen to our inner voice by observing our thoughts and emotions, we discover there are certain patterns that guide us, almost like computer code. But, unlike our laptop, if we shine the light of awareness on them, we can break our programming and ultimately realize we are not our thoughts. We can objectively see the self-talk narrative we use and realize this has created great constraints and limitations in how we view ourselves and our self-worth. This shift in consciousness is immensely powerful and liberating.
Let Go/Don’t Know is simply an affirmation to fully embody the present moment and collapse time. Let Go means to stop dwelling in the past, trying to reconcile a history that you are judging; Don’t Know is avoiding a future that you are worried about. Or, ironically, it can also be a belief pattern that the future holds all your happiness to the point where we overvalue the future and devalue the present moment. Alternatively, if you’re living in a rat race, you’re in a hurry to get to a future where you don’t have to be in a hurry. All these mental patterns rob you of the joy you should be feeing now in the present moment. Think of a child playing, completely unburdened of their past or worried about their future – they are innately happy already, life teaches them to be unhappy. It’s the accumulation of limitations and constraints we put on them that robs them of their happiness, just as it has with us. The joy is still within us but it’s being blocked, like the sun being blocked by the clouds. If we can remove the clouds, i.e., these constraints and limitations, then our joy and energy is free. This energy is referred to as Shakti, our upward flow of energy within us that resonates a vibration of energy. Perhaps you’ve felt it yourself or seen it in others, when they are no longer burdened by their past or worrying about the future. It is a wonderful feeling of joy and vitality, of feeling centered, and is our natural birthright.
To truly Let Go is to stop resisting and dwelling in the past. Past hurt informs future fears which triggers this pattern within us. This all starts with acceptance and surrender. Whatever happened happened and couldn’t have happened any other way because it didn’t. If you can accept this profound statement and allow what happened to be, this is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Because now you are not trying to reconcile your past but simply accepting it. Acceptance is the first step towards clarity and surrender is when you allow all aspects of your life to be. Now you are no longer resisting life, but rather going with the flow, like a salmon that was swimming upstream only to turn around and let the current guide it downstream with the flow. If all this is new to you and you struggle with any type of acceptance, start small. Bringing awareness, observe the small things that trigger you and see if you can allow it to be. Life will reveal to you where you are not free and get triggered and this is where your spiritual work begins. Eventually, you can broaden that out to all dimensions of your life, where you surrender to all things big and small. Surrender eliminates ego and when the ego is gone, grace appears. This is because you are no longer defending a false sense of self (ego) and have now disidentified with your mind. And when you are no longer burdened reacting to this mental narrative in your head, you have better clarity. The misnomer is that you become numb to people and events but rather the opposite is true where you have a heightened sense of alertness. You are so centered with equanimity that all the stuff that hits us every day feels like little ripples on the surface and you are the depth of the ocean. You make better decisions, are a better listener, and vastly more open to all possibilities in love and life.
Don’t Know is to be at peace with not knowing what happens next. Krishnamurti famously said his secret to life is “to be fine with whatever happens”. This is what it means to die before you die – you have no ego to defend and are no longer trapped in time with the anticipation of a better future. You honor the present moment because the future is just an illusion created in your mind; the future never arrives except as the present moment. It’s like chasing horizons you never get to. Most people feel the future is out there but it’s really between your ears residing in your imagination. With this shift, you are no longer trapped in your mind and therefore no longer identified by it. Life with all its adversity and circumstances still occur, but now you are on a bridge looking down at your river of life as it flows by. You are no longer immersed in it, but rather observing it flow effortlessly with a heightened state of alertness. You can now hold a space where you are not reactive but rather responding in a mindful way and choosing your behavior. Subtle but immensely powerful and this will change your relationship to life.
To live a life of Let Go/Don’t Know is freedom. You are no longer burdened with defending a memory or an identity and reconciling the past; nor are you living in anticipation or anxious about the future. You are simply here in the now, honoring the present moment. True happiness is the absence of the search for happiness.
To truly live in this state of mind is the end of suffering. I’m referring to psychological suffering, which is mind made and optional. You will still feel pain and emotional states like grief and sadness, but the mental narrative which creates the emotional suffering dissolves. For example, last year I broke my rib and it was immensely painful. But I did not create a story around it such as I’m such a klutz, bad things always happen to me, I’m so unlucky, I never seem to catch a break. All this self-talk creates suffering and a story I can now create an identity around but it doesn’t heal my rib. The broken rib is as it is. By creating this narrative around it, then I’m creating unnecessary suffering and spilling negative energy into my environment. It serves no redeemable purpose other than feeding my ego and identification with my mind. Equally, when my mother passed away last year, I grieved and felt sadness but I didn’t create a narrative around it. It is as it is. This is the power of acceptance and surrender.
Let Go/Don’t Know means removing the limitations and constraints we’ve put upon ourselves. This accumulation took years, even decades, to build up within each of us but with awareness and self-love, they can quickly be dissolved. Nothing is stuck or superglued in us, including samskaras (mental impressions), it is all just stored energy and we have the power to release this energy. This freedom offers us pure joy and vitality, this shakti upward flow of energy. You will certainly feel it resonate within you but it also creates a different vibration you emit to the world. You’ll discover life starts working for you, not against you, and positive people gravitate towards you. It is the greatest gift you can offer yourself and to the world.