by Anita Burns
There are, as we know many theories about how to live a spiritual life and how to reach a state of enlightenment—so many opinions about the “right” way that someone just starting to study can easily become confused at the tangled web of teachings available.
But, after many years of study, the aspirant begins to realize that the differences are superficial, and great teachers all teach basically the same thing: Life is one, we are all a part of God. We are not different from God, except in our minds. We are all growing, evolving spiritual beings. The goal is to return to the source (God) fully awakened and spiritually mature.
The Masters give a variety of ways to attain these goals. But one instruction remains a constant theme in nearly all spiritual teachings—Let Go and Let God. To “Let Go and Let God” is a part of every formula, both ancient and modern, toward enlightenment and spiritual awareness.
Yet, how many of us really understand what that simple instruction means? For those of us who try to do just that , we discover that it is not an easy task but it is, perhaps, the most important and basic step toward attaining spiritual goals. Without accomplishing “Let Go and Let God” God will ever be that elusive “out there” being—vague, little understood, little experienced first hand. And yet many of us raised in the Christian church remember a familiar passage from the Bible, Matt 6:25-28:
Therefore I bid you put away anxious thoughts about food and drink to keep you alive, and clothes to cover your body. Surely life is more than food, the body more than clothes. Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow and reap and store in barns, yet God feeds them. You are worth more than the birds! Is there any of you who by anxious thought can add a cubit to his height ? Consider how the lilies grow in the fields. They do not get tired, they do not spin; and yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his splendour was not attired like one of these. How little faith you have! No, do not ask anxiously “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What shall we wear?” Your heavenly father knows that you need them all. Set your mind on God’s kingdom and his justice before everything else and all the rest will come to you as well. So do not be anxious about tomorrow; tomorrow will look after itself.
Remember, great masters teach we are but a portion of the great “All,” God, Tao, Cosmic Consciousness. We are like droplets in the great sea of God. Master teachers such as Sathya Sai Baba and Vivekananda have described us as being like a part of the same powerful electricity source, but as human beings in human bodies, we are like light bulbs; the amount of illumination that shines through us depends on the wattage of the bulb. The more experience we gain through inhabiting human bodies from lifetime to lifetime, the more wattage our “bulbs” gain. Joseph Campbell once asked the question: “Am I the light bulb or the power that lights the Light bulb?”
I like to think of us as being like a glowing pearl of light in the middle of an onion. Very little light reaches the pearl from outside the onion. But as we progress spiritually, lifetime after lifetime, layers of that onion are peeled away. More and more light reaches the glowing pearl and more and more of the glow from the pearl reaches the outside. As the layers are peeled off, the two lights grow closer and closer until they merge and the light from within and from without the onion are united.
The merging of this light can only happen when we learn to “Let Go and Let God.” But what does Let Go and Let God mean? Perhaps this is an impossible question to answer fully, but St. Teresa of Avila said:
Let nothing upset you – Let Nothing frighten you – Everything is changing – God alone is changeless. Patience attains the goal. Who has God lacks nothing. God alone fills all needs.
Many people think Letting Go means leaving civilization and living the life of a recluse or an ascetic. Although we can do this, it is not necessary. In fact it is not even desirable in this transitional time from the Piscean to the Aquarian age. Others believe that they do not have to labor or earn any of the things they want, that they need only sit back and let the world come to them. But Let Go and Let God means realizing our true nature—an immortal, spiritual being of God. Not only realizing it intellectually, but realizing it in such a way that we live it with every breath we take. When we Let Go and Let God, it is no longer something to strive for or to analyze, study and think about, it is something we have become. Again we turn to the Christian Bible for a hint into the meaning of Let Go and Let God:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of rightiousness for his names sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
Those words are about Lettiing Go. Letting Go and Letting God is knowing that God is the only reality and that all things come from and return to God and yet they have never really left.
And “All things” include the material luxuries in life, like dishwashers, automobiles, airplanes, stereos, CD players, nice clothing, etc. All the things that we in the West have taken for granted as normal and right to have. We are all a part of God. God doesn’t require us to live uncomfortably or in need. God doesn’t require austerity. And when we grow to the point of being able to really “Let Go and Let God” we are free to enjoy all the beauties and wonders of this material existence. But, the nature of letting go dictates that, like toys, the beauties of life are to be enjoyed but not hoarded, coveted, or selfishly clung to.
The ancient Chinese sage Seng Ts’an said, Return to the root and you find meaning; follow sense objects, you lose the goal. Just one instant of inner enlightenment will take you far beyond the emptiness of the world. Selfish attachment always leads down evil roads. When you Let Go of it, things happen of themselves. In the One there is the all, In the all there is the One. If you know this, you will never worry about being incomplete.
When we understand that we are passing through this material existence and that our purpose here is to learn, grow and help others do the same, we no longer place such importance and value on material things. They are tools to use to fulfill our purpose and things to enjoy. Art and music are expressions of the Creator God within. Beauty in all forms, from the planet’s natural beauty, to the beauty of architecture, furniture, clothing, adornments for the body, and more are all expressions of God. And we are all a part of God!
Most of us on a conscious spiritual path are at least intellectually ready to Let Go and Let God. But it isn’t easy to make that final leap into completely letting go. A step toward making this intellectual understanding a part of our very being is to recognize the transient, unimportant nature of possessions and still know their usefulness and proper place in our life. It is fine to enjoy a Rolls Royce, but know when a Chevrolet would serve as well. Choose your possessions carefully so they will most efficiently fulfill our purposes and needs. It is not evil or unspiritual to live in fine surroundings and possess fine and beautiful things. But it is detrimental to our growth to covet them, expect them to bring us happiness and fulfillment, or to be selfish with our material wealth.
In the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient HIndu scrupture: Krishna said to Arjuna: A leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even water, offered to me in devotion, I will accept as the loving gift of a dedicated heart. Whatever you do make it an offering to me —the food you eat, or worship you perform, the help you give, even your suffering. Thus you will be free from Karma’s bondage, from the results of action, good and bad.
Krishna is saying that when we make a mental and emotional offering to God, we are letting go of an attachment to it. We still have “things”, but we no longer have the attitude that they are the source of our happiness. We give them away to God. But who is God? Are we not all a part of God? By offering all that we do and think to God, we are Letting Go and Letting God. We are offering our attachments to our higher selves and Letting Go of selfish attachment to our limited selves.
We must proclaim our desires, needs, worries, anxieties, and problems. Ask for guidance in living your life according to cosmic law and what is for our highest good. However, we must remember that our highest good may not always be the most comfortable or pleasant way. Many masters have taught that unpleasantness and distress can sometimes be our greatest teachers.
Thomas A Kempis wrote in “Imitation of Christ”: Think not thyself wholly left, although for a time I have sent thee some tribulation, or even withdrawn thy desired comfort. For this is the way to the Kingdom of Heaven. And without doubt it is more expedient for thee …, that ye be exercised with adversities than that ye should have all things according to your desires.
I know the secret thoughts of thy heart, and that it is very expedient for thy welfare that thou be left sometimes without taste of spiritual sweetness, and in a dry condition, lest perhaps thou shoudst be puffed up with thy prosperous estate, and be willing to please thyself in that which thou art not.
Much of Letting Go and Letting God is taking the unpleasant and the pleasant with equal thankfulness of the lessons and the blessings they bring. Offering everything to that part of ourselves which is God. Knowing that when we truly Let Go and Let God, only that which is for our highest good will come to us.
Even when it is not pleasant, when we Let Go and Let God, truly, and completely, we no longer experience pleasant and unpleasant in the same way. All is for our good. Ghandi, when thrown into prison in time after time, thanked the jailers for the opportunity imprisonment gave him to learn humility and to grow stronger in oneness with Ram.
When we Let Go and Let God our attitude toward life’s experiences changes. All is welcomed joyfully as opportunities to grow closer to the source—our Godself.
Imagine for a moment that you are a soldier just entering the army. Normally you are a creature of comfort and like your luxury. The drill sergeant comes and orders you to run five miles with a pack on your back to weigh you down. Oh no! You think, how cruel, how awful, I can never do this! Every step increases your resentment and anger, every step is miserable and painful. You fee you are being punished or unfairly treated. You don’t think of the strength and emotional discipline you are gaining from running. You don’t think of the rewards of the exercise and the discipline of obeying a command. You don’t think that this training may some day save your life in a battle. You are mired only in “Isn’t this awful.”
Now, let’s change gears for a moment. Think now that you are training to be a marathon runner. Each morning you get out of bed at the crack of dawn, eat nothing, strap weights on your ankles and wrists, and perhaps carry a backpack to weight you down. You force your stiff and unwilling muscles to stretch and move. You go out into the chill and darkness of early morning and begin running. With each step your body protests. But your only thought is of the rewards this trial will bring. Even when your body reaches a point of exhaustion, you keep going, gladly, thankfully for the opportunity to reach one more inch toward your goal. Pain and sacrifice are experienced gladly because you know that your goal of perfection is assured.
What is the difference between the two, the soldier and the runner? Attitude – Letting Go. Experiencing all pain and pleasure as gifts toward reaching the goal. A key is to accept what comes with love and thankfulness. Work always toward the betterment of the world. Live always in a state of thankfulness. Even if what comes seems to be unfair, painful or burdensome, if we have truly Let Go and Let God, we can know that everything that happens, Can be used as a spiritual opportunity. Know that every event is for your highest good and learning, and that pleasant or unpleasant, it will pass. And we will have benefited from the experience.
Our Godself (higher self, guides and masters), know what is for our highest good. Awaken to that truth and we are on our way to true unity with our source—fully awakened God Power.