As individuals we all tend to cling on to what we love. It could be our pet, our friends, boyfriends,the home where we live, our school, even the circumstances we may be in. But life unfailingly transforms and we have to learn to let go of situations, places and people, many times even before we are actually prepared for it. Letting go becomes important for us to move forward.

Our predisposition and character is to look back and our mind tends to focus on how things used to be. When relationships end or a treasured person leaves us and departs, we have to allow ourselves the time to grieve and then learn to let go. This is what we have heard and have been following for a long long time. We tend to hole up in our home and become disinterested even in the routine chores.

However, the Buddhist way of looking at letting go or detachment is very interesting. They unlike many of us do not look at loving someone as the need to possess. They beautifully explain letting go as:

Loving someone more than you have ever loved them before. Non-attachment only happens when our love for another extends beyond our own personal expectations of gain or our anticipation of specific, desired outcome.

Tich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist Master

It certainly is the most beautiful explanation of detachment I’ve ever read. You don’t need to lock yourself in a room or cut yourself off from the real world to let go.

When you have to say goodbye to your friend or love you feel a lot of pain. Specially when you know that your paths may not intertwine again. That feeling of pain is not true detachment. Your joy should arise from the fact that the person you loved has found happiness even if does not involve you.

Without detachment, explains Master Hanh, love becomes egoistic. It wants to possess. It becomes selfish and wants to cling on to the person or situation, making love more and more destructive.

If you truly want to let go, love the person more and wish them happiness and success. Be happy for them in the place they are now.

For love to be true love, it must have elements of compassion, joy and equanimity – and this is truly letting go. The real secret is that letting go is not an art, it is an allowing. It is completely selfless because your sense of ‘self’ is no longer asserted in every situation.

The Mind Unleashed

What I wrote up till now was emotional element of letting go. The detachment in love. But all of us our attached to even small items collected over the years. We become sentimentally attached to these and they begin to cause clutter in our home and minds . Thus leading to stress and exhaustion. For example you have a box full of cards your little ones made, a doodle they made as 1 year old, souvenirs from our friends or loved ones. We are sentimentally attached to all of these. We fear losing the precious memories if we discard them.

Even though it may be hard, the truth is, keeping all these items leaves us drained as it increases the clutter around or homes. So how do we know what to keep and what to discard?

We need to first understand that losing the items will never make the memory fade away. A truly precious memory is part of us forever. To be able to let go of the stuff you need to recoginse which items bring you absolute joy, only those are worth keeping. Believe me letting go of many articles will bring you more peace than keeping them there.

I’ve talked of very few areas where you may need to let go. I’m sure there must be many other things and spheres where detachment will bring you joy and happiness.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.

Herman Hesse

Please feel free to share your experiences of letting go.