I have been with ‘letting go’ this past week…Well, I have been with this awareness of a need to ‘let go’ since I took off on my first trip away from my sons when they were very small – now about 22 years ago.
Having studied the Dharma for soon to be 5 years now, I have learned about the Eight Worldly Concerns and they have been more like concepts to find a relationship to, and ultimately rid myself of, but ‘out there’ and I have not known quite ‘where’ to place them in my world.
They seem very vague. What do they mean to me? How do I relate to them?
They are mentioned in Nagarjuna’s “Letter to a Friend” and they are:
Hope and Fear Fame and Infamy
Praise and Blame Gain and Loss
I have contemplated letting go in relationship to these worldly concerns.
I could see that these 8 are the things to let go of.
For most of my life I suppose ‘letting go’ has been more of an abstract that I should be able to ‘do’ at anytime – like dropping my coat onto a chair. However, in reality when I have needed to let go, it has not been so easy!
As some of you know, I had a snowboarding accident which resulted in emergency brain surgery in 2006. Looking back, this was one of my greatest gifts, as I had no capacity to think or do any of the things I used to. I was literally on my back in bed and I had to allow things to fall where they may. I did not even know if I would ever recover my ability to think or do much of anything. I was forced into a process of ‘being’ instead of ‘doing’. Well, as most of you know as well, I did recover and with all my senses intact. Maybe better than intact!!
I searched for answers to questions about the brain – and when I met my teacher he shared a long explanation with me on how the brain is not the mind. That the brain is an organ that the mind uses – just like it uses all the other organs of the body for it’s expression.
My understanding reached another level the other day when discussing dementia with my teacher. He shared that it is the brain that changes in a dement person, and how their mind is never affected. Wow – it turned another light on in my world, and I could follow the thread of how this is why a person is able to perceive all that is going on around them, but why they are not able to recall, retell or remember their experiences. Like how when we store something on our computer but forget ‘where’ or ‘what’ we named the file…Many of us have this awareness when with persons who are diseased or dying – that they can experience our presence and ‘get’ all that is happening at some level, but, that they cannot show us, or tell us with words.
Anyways…back to the Eight Worldly Concerns…
My world for 50 years was colored by fear. So much so, that everything I feared came to pass – pretty much. I do not recommend it to anyone, but what I now know is that we are fully capable of changing our experience in this world.
If the mind is the horse and we are the rider – and with this analogy in mind – we need to learn how to ride the horse so that it goes where we wish to go. If we have no idea how to ride a horse, the horse will take us wherever it wants to go. The same it true if we don’t know how to control our minds.
Another analogy that I think is perfect is the one where we find ourselves about to leave a game or event in a big stadium, and as we intend to leave through the D exit, the force of the crowd pushes us towards a totally different exit and not at all where we intended to go out. If we don’t learn to train our minds, we will end up in another location than our highest intention would have it!
I have had immense help from mind training and studying the Dharma. What I know is that ultimately we all want happiness and we need to be kind to others. As human beings, not something that comes ‘easy’ for us. I am learning through this training of my mind, to little by little rid myself of these Eight Worldly Concerns, and no – I am not enlightened yet… but I do live in a very different state of mind.
What I also know today is that we are able to train our minds to work for us instead of against us. And yes…I have a long way to go still!
Love & Light!