July 16, 2011

This Week in Retreat: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo on Letting Go

This week, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo teaches on Gain and Loss (everyone wants the former, nobody, the latter), two of the "Eight Worldly Concerns." Plenty of discussion follows. 

One participant writes,

Your teachings are so clear and understandable to me. Thank you so very much for them! I suffer the most from my anticipation of loss...particularly the loss of my partner/spouse who is 14 yrs. older than I am. I know cognitively that what I am doing is causing me great suffering. I know I "ought" to let go of the anticipatory fear of losing her, but it's the continuous turning of the wheel of suffering anyhow. Is there a secret practice in the "how to" of letting go? I guess I would like to know how you worked with attachment/aversion on your own path. Thank you Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo.

To which Jetsunma replies,

Actually I don't think there is a 'secret' to letting go of our attachment, (apart from a deep realization of non-self or emptiness). The problem is we do not face and accept impermanence. We are hoping that who and what we love will always remain the same. But that is impossible. All meetings end in parting. That is just the way things are—at all times and everywhere. So in the meantime it makes sense to enjoy the present time. How sad to waste one's life in fears for the future! Please concentrate on having a loving and happy relationship here and now and allow whatever comes to unfold in its own time. Perhaps you should cultivate mindfulness of the present moment and watch your feelings of anxiety just arise and fall without identifying with them.

Another participant asks,

Dear Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
On an intellectual level I understand that grasping and clinging and trying to make things the way we want is not possible but it is incredibly difficult when someone you love is suffering and you want their suffering to end. I find that my days are good days when my son is not suffering but when he is then it feels like everything falls apart as I want to make things better for him and all my energy goes into trying to sort out his problems. On one level I know I cannot sort his life out for him but on another I cant help but try. How do I let go of this anxiety and suffering. How do I simply let go?
Thank you for your teachings.

Jetsunma responds,

We have to accept that however much we care for our loved ones, in the end they are the heirs of their own karma. We do what we can for them with loving kindness and compassion, but indeed wisdom says that we cannot lead another's life for them. In this case you have to allow your son to make his own mistakes and experience his own suffering because that is his journey. You cannot always be hoping to solve all his problems—he has to be allowed to fall and then learn how to pick himself up again whether in this lifetime or later. However let him know that whatever he does you will always love him. There is nothing he could ever do that could cause you to stop loving him. He can trust that you will always be there for him.


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buddhabrats's picture

In bon dzogchen there is a practice called zerbu or nailing it down and in this practice we engage the things we like, the things we don't like and the things we are indifferent to in order to re taste them all and to see them all as pure. if we are undisturbed by the things we do not like we do not suffer.
Seeing everything as pure from the start goes a long way to fulfilling this, yet when we engage the things we do not like they still hurt but only up to a point. If you have experienced deep loss for the third time it hurts less then the first, as we have walked these emotions before and now come to terms with them. Sometimes the only way through is through which is why i favour the dive in before you are thrown in approach to experience, at least then you are swimming when the wave hits. In short there is no easy way through this and when our holy cows are slain it will always hurt, but the more you do it the less you suffer as you begin to realize that it is just the breaking of attachments which cause the suffering, and it is only our holding on to said attachments that cause us to suffer.

I deal with this subject a lot in my book, buddha brats a modern tale of enlightenment, available on my site www.buddhabrats.com

To quote ministry "The mind is a terrible thing to taste'