I see that I need to let go. I know that I have to let go. I understand perfectly well that the only possible thing to do at this point is to let go. But how do I go about it? What exactly do I have to do in order to let go? What steps can I take?
This is where I come up against a brick wall – there are no steps. There is no ‘way’ to let go. I cannot insist that letting go is what must happen – it can’t be forced. I cannot demand of myself that I must let go. That is not a very ‘letting go’ frame of mind, after all! Rather, it is a prime example of an ‘insisting that I get my own way’ frame of mind, a prime example of a ‘specifying a definite and non-negotiable outcome’ frame of mind. It is a prime example of ‘holding on to my agenda’ frame of mind…
When I say that I ‘must’ let go then this means – far from letting go – I am actually holding on for dear life to the agenda or goal I that have stuck in my head. I am holding on for dear life to the idea of letting go, which is just an idea like any other idea. There is no difference between holding on the idea of ‘letting go’ and holding on to any other idea that I might have.
So I can’t do it. I can’t make myself let go, I can’t ‘let go on purpose’. It is a perfect double-bind. But I neither can I stay the way I am because the tense, rigid, insistent, cramped and combative frame of mind that I am stuck in is bringing me no end of misery, pain and frustration. It has become unbearable. So how to get out of the double-bind?
The answer is to first let go of the desire to let go. Once I see clearly that it is impossible to let go on purpose, then at the exact same time that I see this, I let go of the attempt to ‘let go’. I let go of my intention to let go. Direct perception of the impossibility of the task that I have set myself is the key to everything. ‘Seeing that it is impossible’ happens at the same time as ‘giving up the attempt to do it’ – the one gives rise to the other. The one is the other.
What this means is that I am letting go, but without meaning to. This is a perfect example of a paradox: seeing that I cannot let go is the exact same thing as letting go.
As long as I hang on to the desperate hope that ‘I can do it’, as long as I persist in thinking that it is possible if I try hard enough, then I hang on to my agenda. But once I understand very clearly the complete and utter futility of what I am trying to do, the absolute absurdity of it, then I drop the attempt.
Without meaning to, I have switched from ‘doing mode’, to ‘seeing mode’. I have switched from the directed or purposeful mind to the spontaneous mind, and so I am free from the trap that I was in.
Author: Nick Williams
Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.