So You Just Want to be Happy…

Olympic Peninsula 2009 007By Megan Bauer

Once you have begun a regular meditation practice, the next thing you need to begin to do in order to get off of the “me plan” is to LET GO.

Once we see clearly that the “me plan” is grounded in hope and fear and that hope and fear are grounded in attachment, we have to begin the practice of letting go.  And this is something you begin practicing in meditation.  Every time you let a thought go and come back to the breath, you are practicing this.  But you also can bring this practice off the cushion into your daily life.

This is a practice that requires the same exertion and discipline that is required in meditation.

The Sakyong writes in Ruling Your World, “The Buddha said, ‘The world is fluid, not solid. It’s fixating on what you want that hurts. Stop clinging so tightly.’”  We are caught by the illusion of permanence. The practice of letting go can begin to help us work with this trap.

Sounds so simple, but often it is anything but.

So start with the little things.  Start with deciding to, just this one time, not get mad at the guy who cuts you off in traffic.  Let it go.

Or decide when your partner leaves the dirty dishes in the sink to just wash them yourself, and let it go.

Letting go when you have an idea of how you wanted something to go, and relaxing with things as they are creates a tremendous sense of relief.  It also allows you to begin to see how flexible you really are and how happiness is available in every moment, especially the moments you didn’t plan.

Here is an example of the power of letting go and the amount of relief it offers.  The other day, I was home around rush hour.  I heard a car outside come to a screeching stop followed by the voices of two men yelling profanities at each other.  Because I heard that it was continuing, I went outside to see if I could help.  They were parked side-by-side in the middle of the road screaming at each other. One of them saw me and began to drive off.  As he did, the other man did a u-turn to begin chasing after him.  While standing on my front porch, and in a conversational tone of voice, I said, “Let it go. It’s not worth it.” Remarkably, he heard me and said, “You’re right. Thank you,” and turned his car around again.  In a moment of intense anger, if we can somehow gently remind ourselves to let it go, it can make all the difference.

According to the Sakyong:

“Letting go is the ultimate generosity because it connects us to our wisdom and compassion.  Letting go is thinking of the comfort of others before your own.  It’s coming in from the cold and making someone else a hot drink before you make one for yourself. It’s saying I love you when you’re afraid that other person doesn’t feel the same.  It’s saying I’m sorry when you think the other person is to blame.”

The third thing we need to do in order to overcome the “me plan” is to think of how we can help others.

Replace “what about me?” with “what about you?”

Like meditation and letting go, this is a practice that takes discipline and time to become comfortable.  But when we step away from the constant meditation on ourselves and our comfort, desires and fears, and begin to focus on the comfort and needs of others, we are freed from the trappings of the “me plan.”  We are freed from the constant anxiety that comes with trying to get what we want and avoid what we do not want.  We begin to free up our lives to be of benefit in the world, and when we are being of benefit to others, we realize a new connection with the world we live in and a joy that we have forgotten exists.

What can you expect from meditation, letting go and caring for others?

Well, the masters promise true happiness, freedom from self, freedom from ego and a life filled with meaning, generosity and compassion.  May that be so for you!