Letting Go

Every Wednesday I do one of two things, either I take an hour and a half drive with my wife down to Canaan NY to attend service at our temple, or more frequently I lament the fact that I am unable to drive an hour and a half south to visit our sangha (community).

Frequently, on those days when we are unable to break away (like today), I listen to a dharma talk podcast, usually one by Gil Fronsdal. One of my favorite talks of the many available online, is one by Gil that I listen to quite frequently on “Letting Go”. This refers to the letting go of our attachments. This does not mean separating one’s self from the world, it means letting go of that which causes you suffering.

Now I know some of you may be completely uninterested in Buddhism, or perhaps just don’t know much about it. But I feel like there is something important to share here today. For those of you who don’t know, in buddhism, there are four noble truths. Put simply they are…

1. Suffering exists
2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires
3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
4. Freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path

The first three truths resonated with me from the instant I read them. That suffering exists is impossible to deny. Suffering surrounds us, from the most minor of disappointment to the heart wrenching catastrophes that leave scars on our psyches. That suffering arises from attachment, is not something I had really put together on my own before, but when confronted with the logic, I found it undeniable as well. Especially as someone who suffers from stress induced headaches, irritable bowel and just a pervasive grumpiness from time to time, it made sense that my desire for things to be one way, my attachment to an idea or an ideal, would cause me stress. These attachments frequently feed on themselves, as you build stories in your mind of how things could be better and why things are so bad, and whose fault it is, etc.

It is only logical then that ceasing this circular thinking, letting go of that which initiates the stress, will stop the cycle and relieve suffering. Understanding that has made a big difference for me. I can’t say that I am always able to let go, or that in the heat of my anger or my pity parties I always remember to do so. I mean, remember how I started this piece? Ironic isn’t it that my inability to go to temple and practice in a formal setting should cause me suffering? I guess it just goes to show that even attachment to something healthy can cause you suffering. This does not mean that you should give it up, just that you should accept the way that things pan out and try and better yourself in the process.

The podcast linked below is certainly worth your time. Buddhist or not.

Audio – “Letting Go” a Dharma Talk by Gil Fronsdal via Audio Dharma

Other Dharma Talks by Gil are available at:


~ by David on December 2, 2009.

One Response to “Letting Go”

  1. Thank you!

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