Letting go – and still here 5 years on!

Holding on to anything is like holding on to your breath;
You will suffocate.
The only way to get anything in the universe is by
Letting go of it.
Let go and it will be yours forever.
Anonymous

What is your experience of Letting go?
Is it simple, or is it a process of contemplation?

I can align with what FOS, Mendy and Kathy say.

I particularly agree with Mendy on the letting go of attachment.

Today is exactly 5 years since my meeting with oncologist David Gibbs, where he told me I could be dead in 6 weeks, and had a 50% chance of living 5 months, and a 2% chance of living 2 years.

That required something of me.

That required an acceptance of death.

It is amazing to me how complex, and at the same time how simple the process is.

Last Friday I gave a talk to a local health expo organised by a friend and fellow Lion (Lynn Robinson). I had a 45 minute slot, but spoke for 52 minutes. A mp3 recording and a pdf file of the powerpoint presentation I used are on my blogsite https://tedhowardnz.wordpress.com.

And for me, the letting go of an attachment to life did not in any way lessen either my commitment to life or my appreciation of it.

Attachment in that sense is the idea that somehow it “ought” to be a certain way.

Mendy wrote of something larger than self, and I agree in a sense, and we seem to differ in another sense as to the what.

For me, part of letting go is getting beyond the desires of ego.

For me, part of that process is seeing that ego is just a tiny part of the totality of what it is to be a human being.

For me, that occurs in three major aspects:

One aspect is seeing how ego arises, and seeing that ego is in a sense just a systemic response to a child declaring itself wrong (or bad or evil or whatever judgement word that specific child had learned).

The second aspect is cultivating other levels of awareness beyond ego, and maintaining those simultaneously.

The third is becoming aware of my own subconscious, and the vastness within it (that has a feeling of infinity, all knowingness etc).

At another level entirely, there is the choice of purpose.

What am I doing?

I am aware of the desires of body – and see these as survival heuristics developed over vast evolutionary time.

I am aware of the imperatives of culture, and see these as survival heuristics developed over a much compressed time-frame of thousands of years.

Then there are the things that my own subconscious sees in the world around me as being significant in some way, usually in some thought form developed by someone else, and occasionally in some distinction entirely unique to my own brain.

Most of my existence is in this internal world, of distinctions and abstractions I have no easy way of communicating to any other, and at the same time I exist in our shared reality.

It was interesting to me on Sunday, to experience the most powerful way to play golf – to use my intentionality to the best of my ability, to choose the set of options (for swing, shot shape, destination, etc) with the highest probability of success, then to hand over execution to my body, and stop my conscious mind from interfering. Then to bring acceptance of whatever outcome ensued. To the degree that I achieved that, I played some great golf shots, and most of my shots the conscious did not release control soon enough (or more correctly tried to control where it could not – and that illusion of control produced suboptimal outcomes).

So I see that being powerful has this aspect of total commitment, total application; combined with a letting go, a non-attachment to outcome.

This idea of commitment without attachment is easy in a sense, yet exactly opposite to most of the teachings of our educational systems and most of the impulses of ego.

And 5 years ago I committed to doing what I could to sustain life, while accepting death – and here I am.

The complexity of the details of that process are so far beyond the abilities of my brain to comprehend, and I do manage to see a vague shadow of some of it. And in another sense it is so simple.

And it hasn’t been easy.

So much discomfort – and what is comfort?

What does comfort really do for us?

How much of a trap is our comfort?

How often do we feel most alive when furthest from our comfort zones?

Yet pursuit of adrenalin highs isn’t any sort of real answer. I’ve had enough of them – so many of them, heights, speed, edge of death, …. Fast cars, motorbikes, boats, diving, aircraft, parachuting, mountains, …. Not sustainable.

Pursuit of that sort of high in and of itself is a trap, a form of death.

It seems to me that there is a form of sustainability available.

It seems to me that a commitment to sapient life is stable.

It seems to me that the emergence of a new level of cooperation and trust is in a very real sense just the next level of evolution; when one can view evolution as a process of the emergence of new levels of cooperation with attendant stabilising strategies to prevent cheating; emerging from the competitive morass that is the other (and necessary) aspect of evolution.

And if choice has any meaning there can be no certainty.

So I can commit, and let go of attachment to outcomes.

And that letting go, so easy to say, so hard to master in this endlessly recursive system that seems to be self aware existence.

[followed by]

Beautifully put Torch.

I like the many Zen analogies to tuning a stringed instrument. The master of the instrument knows when it is tuned to his purposes, neither too tight, nor too loose, – just so – and the just so is a very complex relationship between the individual and their reality. [And it seems that all of us must use heuristics {practical shortcuts} to create our mental realities, be they cultural, spiritual, scientific or some combination or something otherwise altogether.]

And like you I wonder if complete letting go is possible.

I have had some experiences like yours, and some very different.

One of the very different involved extreme physical pain. To avoid that pain it was like finding a cupboard in mind (much like finding a cupboard to hide in when playing hide and seek as a child), and I was in that cupboard free of pain, looking out through a crack in the door at my body in pain, then I was looking at me looking out the door, then I was looking at me looking at me looking out the door, and the threat of infinite regress came flooding at me.

If I continued hiding like this could I ever find my way back???

So I went back to the pain, and the lack of vision as it flooded my optical processing systems. And gradually it subsided.

[I recall a hiding spot I found at one house we lived in that no one ever found me at in Hide and Seek – there was a large hot water cupboard, with a small door, and I could climb up the shelves to the top shelf, and over the back of the pile of towels, and make a nice soft warm bed for myself, with a towel over me, where I could stay hidden for hours in comfort.]

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in Ideas, Philosophy, Question of the Day and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Letting go – and still here 5 years on!

  1. Ted – I’m sooooooo glad you’re here 5 years on. Here’s to another, and another, and another, and another set(s) of 5 years!

    Liked by 2 people

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