Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Effort and Letting Go

There is this profound play between application of effort, and letting go.

Sometimes, and in some ways, one has to galvanise ones energy, enlist ones desire, focus aspiration, and strive for the goal. Whether that is in terms of life overall, or a particular moment within it, there is the need to make an effort.

And then, there is letting go. Opening profoundly to what is, and allowing it to be, just as it is. How hard is it to see something, and not 'touch' it with the mind in a way that changes and transforms it?

I feel the Yin-Yang diagram models very acutely the ideal nature of awareness and effort.

Within the Yang of effort, lies a small circle of Yin, or letting go. And within the Yin of letting go lies the small circle of Yang, effort. So each contains something of the other within.

Is it truly possible to make the right sort of effort to transform ones mind, or just to be aware, without seemingly 'within' that an element or sense of letting go, of opening, of allowing to be?

And is it possible to let be, without somehow 'engaging' that (well not for me, who hasn't reached a level where such 'letting be into minds own nature' is a totally natural and continuous process).

Like gently holding a bird in ones hand, one holds dharmas in ones awareness. Moment by moment, one raises the effort of awareness, and allows that awareness to just be, with whatever it 'sees'.

Generation stage practice involves putting forth effort, yet there is letting be within that, like the Yin in the Yang.

Completion stage practice rests in what is, yet that lies poised on the wave of what has gone.

There's the spirit of inquiry which seeks to penetrate how things are, and the resting in 'not-knowing', which allows for non-holding, non-judging, and non-appraising. How do we penetrate the mysteries of how things are, without a profound effort to 'see' and 'know'? Yet all effort is 'fabrication', and alters that which is seen, so letting go allows for the natural unfolding of 'how it is as it is'.

This dynamic seems to be seen in many aspects of the spiritual life ... putting forth, and letting go, at one and the same time.

The question is not which is better, but how to you encompass both, and know which to emphasize when?

And that is answered in experience, through trial and error, through reflection and experience .... through the blind man groping along the path :-)


Al said...

I have been intending to comment for a day or so - but every time I go to write, it goes nowhere. You have hit on one of the basic, apparent, dichotomies in Buddhism, which, as you so eloquently wrote, is not a dichotomy at all. Nice post.

tamingthemind said...

Chodpa, Thank you for this. It's wonderful.

Anonymous said...

>How do we penetrate the mysteries of how >things are, without a profound effort to 'see' >and 'know'? Yet all effort is 'fabrication', and >alters that which is seen, so letting go allows >for the natural unfolding of 'how it is as it is'.

One needs enourmous amount of effort (=practise and thus experience) to reach the proper state where one is capable of instantly becoming aware of issues. The effort is needed to reach and maintain the state but once the state is reached it provides the platform for comprehension without active effort or 'seeing and knowing'. A metaphor: one needs effort to calm the see where the sky can be reflected.

The instantaneous comprehension is beyond words and ordinary understanding. It does not require time - it is a total and complete overall comprehension at once. It can be described by words but it cannot be produced by words. A metaphor: picture tells more than a thousand words, living picture even more and so on.


Mark Walter said...

Please allow me to share a martial artist's perspective.

I have learned that there is a spot between the yin and yang, between action and non-action, between right and wrong, between male and female. I have not only become aware that this spot exists, but my Sensei has taught me how to move and navigate within it. This is not only possible, but it is very learnable although it takes hard work, persistance, practice and a very good and willing teacher.

I am very grateful that our application of this spot is practical. In other words, we don't seek to only experience it in the training hall or dojo. Our true aim is to experience and live through/in it in everyday life. I have had success in this regard.

Sensei defines this spot, that is in between all things, the Christ point. I don't claim to be highly proficient in this area, but I can state it is achievable. I'm just a regular working guy, with a wife and two kids, living in the burbs. So, for someone like me to experience this spot, and to have a modest degree of understanding about it, is saying that it is very clearly achievable.

Very thoughtful site.

Best regards,