the Dharma teaches the importance of letting go of ego, of preferences, of emotions, of neurosis, of addictions, of compulsions, of desires, of what we think the Dharma is. we cause harm and perpetuate our own suffering with the misguided belief that “letting go” means that our egoic attachments vanish and we then become beacons of peace and tranquility.
it is true that letting go of our attachments is important, but “letting go” does not mean getting rid of things. “letting go” does not mean that our attachments and character traits disappear.
“letting go” is about acceptance— about realizing that those aspects of our personality that we think are broken will not disappear. our neuroses, desires, preferences— it is those attributes that give us individuality; they are part of each of us and are neither good nor bad. when we “let go,” it simply means that we are no longer controlled by attachments and beliefs; that life is no longer ego-driven, but actually lived.
truly letting go is like looking at yourself in a mirror. you see your reflection, and you know you are not your reflection.
by daishin stephenson
a zen student asked me to define zen practice.
zen practice, any contemplative practice actually, is meeting every moment, breath by breath, while meeting what one is thinking, saying, and doing.
it is the hardest thing anyone can do.
by Dogo Barry Graham
(I found the following note in my handwriting tucked into a copy of Red Pine’s translation of The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, which I opened this morning for the first time in close to ten years. I laughed when I read what I had written, because I have no recollection of writing it, and, looking through the book, I can’t tell which part I wrote it in response to.)
The end of suffering actually turns out to be the end of separation from suffering.
Suffering does not disappear from our life - it disappears into our life. We no longer experience it as something that intrudes into our life, something that we can keep out of our life if we can only put up the right barricades.
We stop suffering when we stop separating and stop comparing, when we realize that suffering is not caused by our circumstances, but by the stories we tell ourselves about our circumstances.
The craving for suffering to end is exactly what keeps us in samsara, in suffering, in dissatisfaction, in dukkha.