By Bhante Sathi
What is a “letting go” state of mind? Why might letting go be a good question to explore for you personally? What would this look like for you?
For example, think about how a cookie is made. It starts as dough which is made with flour. When mixing the dough, the nature of the flour changes, and by baking the dough the nature of the dough changes. The flour has to let go of its nature in order for it to become dough, and the dough has to let go of its nature in order for it to become a cookie.
Similarly, we too must give up a little bit of our identity to change who we are. Just like the cookie, we can see that environmental conditions (both physical and mental) impact this process. It follows nature. Vegetables have to let go of what they are in order to become a salad, and snow must let go of its identity to become ice or water.
Every day in our life, we are involved with so many events and each of these events have to do something with the mind in one way or another. We become happy, unhappy or neutral regarding most events. These events change who we are and after awhile we learn to become someone else. I often hear individuals blame their spouse for an unhappy relationship by making comments like “they’re not the same as they used to be,” or “I don’t know them anymore!” Or they complain about their kids by expressing that they are defiant. We need to think about this concept mindfully. Yes, we are who we are but we change every second and often do not even know we have a choice. Just like the dough that gets put in the oven, it does not have much of a choice of what is. However, we must understand that life events and environments support these changes in us. If two people led completely different lifestyles and engaged themselves in different environments, they would end up in different situations and places in the future. This leaves the question: “As a mindful person, how should I approach this dilemma?”
We can properly approach this issue by clearly understanding the situation. We need to mindfully choose the situations and environments that shape who we are. We should not just accept opportunities simply because they are offered to us and we should not take them just because our family and friends tell us to. We must choose these opportunities mindfully and accept the ones that provide us with positive emotional and physical aspects. With that being said, neglecting unmindful choices and not letting impulsive and blind emotional choices get in the way is a brave and noble action. A mindful individual is able to let those shallow emotions and impulses go and, are able to let go a part of who they are in order to benefit themselves. We must understand that we will become who we are based on our choices which will ultimately determine who we become in the future.
Letting go of who we are, exercising mindful choices and staying motivated in a mindful way that will help us “bake the better version of our self.” Although anger and greed seem like proper reactions to life events at the time, they eventually lead to sadness and regret. However, generosity and compassion, though uncomfortable at first, will lead to a reality of happiness and tranquility. Think about the reactions we have to events in our lives and ask “what kind of cookie are we getting back?” Your actions and reactions to events will reflect the quality of who you are. If we base our emotions on anger, greed, lust, and frustration then those will be the ingredients of the cookie you make. A mindful person will bake their cookie from ingredients like love, compassion, generosity, and honesty. By basing our identity on these ingredients, we will always life a happy and productive lifestyle.