Letting Go

The three questions an awakened person asks at the time of his or her death are very simple:

“Did I love well?”

“Did I live fully?”

“Did I learn to let go?”

They don't usually ask “How much is in my bank account?” or “How many books did I write?” or “What did I build?". Not surprising.

When we consider loving well and living fully, we can see the ways our attachments and fears limited us, and we can see the many opportunities for our hearts to open. 

At the end of our life, we may have what is called a crash course in letting go. Sooner or later we have to learn to let go and allow the changing mystery of life to move through us without our fearing it, without holding and grasping.

Letting go and moving through life from one change to another brings maturity. In the end we discover that 'to love' and 'let go' can be the same thing. Both allow us to touch each moment of life and be there fully for whatever arises next.

There is an old story about a famous rabbi living in Europe who was visited one day by a man who had travelled by ship from New York to see him. The man came to the great rabbi’s dwelling, a large house on a street in a European city, and was directed to the rabbi’s room, which was in the attic. He entered to find the master living in a room with a bed, a chair, and a few books. The man had expected much more. After greetings, he asked, “Rabbi, where are your things?” The rabbi asked in return, “Well, where are yours?” His visitor replied, “But, Rabbi, I’m only passing through,” and the master answered, “So am I, so am I.”

To love fully and live well requires us to recognise finally that we do not possess or own anything - our homes, our cars, our loved ones, not even our own body. Joy and wisdom do not come through possession but rather through our capacity to open and love more fully.

One great teacher explained it this way: The trouble with you is that you think you have time.” We don’t know how much time we have. What would it be like to live with the knowledge that this may be our last year, our last week, our last day? In light of this question, we can choose a path with heart.

Adapted from A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield