We expect life to be filled with joy. But if we cannot let go of the blockages of “negative memories” stored in us, then we cannot have spiritual freedom, and cannot have a joyful life.
Recently, I went to the hospital to visit an old friend and was greatly distressed to see her suffering from depression due to her inability to let go of certain issues, people and things. Her body is unable to withstand this load of emotions. I wish to share my life experience in letting go with her as well as others who come across this article.
Awakening from Pain In Craving
When I was a one-year-old, my parents moved to Hualien from Taipei for their livelihood. I stayed with my grandparents in Taipei where I was happily spoilt. At the age of four, I moved to Hualien to reunite with my family.
From young, I was very close with my grandmother. I always followed her wherever she went. Every night, we slept together, holding hands. Even after I was transferred to a high school in Taipei, I would still take leave from school and accompany her when she joined the province’s annual pilgrimage group tour.
Despite my greatest fear of smelliness since young, I could sleep contentedly every night in the dormitory that was filled with various foot odours of the elderly tour members, as long as I got to hold her hand.
After graduating from university and entering the workforce, the depth of our feelings never faded even though we did not see each other every day. In 1986, a big life-shocking event prompted me to leave everything to pursue my dream of going to Japan to study. After I made the decision, I told my grandmother. With tears of sadness flowing, my grandmother said: “Can you not go? I am old and hope that you are by my side when it is time for me to go”. I could not see her sadness. All I could see was my dream coming true.
After I went to Japan, I would call her frequently and I could hear her voice growing weaker and weaker. She could no longer walk downstairs. I was in disbelief. When I left Taiwan, she was still the first person to arrive at the old folk’s clubhouse for dancing and exercising. Her health declined quickly because she really missed me. I took leave and went back to Taiwan. One night when she got up to go to the toilet, she fell from second to the first floor.
When I saw her lying in a pool of blood, I was ready to exchange my life for hers. I was willing to let go of everything to bring back her life. I would not leave her anymore. I left my studies. Other than the necessity of making a living, I stopped all other activities and accompanied her whole-heartedly.
Even though she recovered, she lost her smile and her life-force. Gradually, she could only lie in bed and was unable to get out of bed. I was afraid she would leave me. I forced her to do exercises that I thought were good for her. I also forced her to sing ballads to avoid Alzheimer’s disease.
I was deeply trapped in my worries for her.
At work, I would often call home. If nobody answered the phone, I would assume that she might have fallen again. I would imagine all scenarios that terrify me and was unable to work with peace of mind. I would take leave and rush home quickly. Often, it was only the nurse wheeling her to the park.
But due to the anxiety and tension, I was in intense pain. I felt as if we were previously married for seven lifetimes and going through the reincarnation of craving for love, entangling each other in endless pain. The feeling of lifetimes of experience is a powerful magnetizing whirlpool, swirling me into its spin. Later, she had urinary tract infection. While hospitalized, she suffered greatly from the daily blood tests as she was afraid of pain.
One day she said to me, “I feel like jumping off the building. I do not want to live anymore”. I cried and angrily roared at her: “How could you be so cruel to me? I have taken care of you whole-heartedly! What else do you want me to do?”
She did not say a word but turned her body to one side. I was on the brink of collapse with pain. Suddenly, a force of energy came in through my head and woke me up. I believe it was love from the universe! My God! I then realized my selfishness. I had been afraid that the person I loved most would be leaving me. This was just selfish love.
If I really loved my grandmother, I should see her pain and hear her. She told me more than once that she wanted to go to another world, to meet my grandfather, relatives and friends. At that moment I woke up. At her bedside, I communicated with her in my heart: “I understand now. I will no longer be selfish and keep you here. I will respect your choice. I bless you.” Next day, her condition spiraled down. I brought her back to Hualien. After bidding farewell to friends and relatives, she left us, smiling.
Years later, I came to understand that the insatiable desire for love between individuals forms an energy force that binds us together, disabling the separation of each other’s energy field and painfully tormenting each other.
Only being aware of what unconditional love truly is, can one give and not feel afraid of losing nor have the desire to possess others. This was a grand lesson in my life. I learned to respect others’ choices. I think many people are being stuck in craving for love and are unaware of the pain from each other’s entanglement. As long as there are worries, control, etc, in our love. We need to release them all. When I learned more methods of letting go, I gradually realized more inner freedom.
Relinquishment of Attachments
A passage in Peace Pilgrim (see Note) helped me a lot. We have to learn to let go. One type of possessiveness involves possessing other people. No matter how close the relationship is, you do not possess any other human being. “No husband owns his wife; no wife owns her husband; no parents own their children.”
When we think we possess others, we naturally want to run their lives, leading to disharmony. Only when we recognize that we do not possess anyone and that everyone must live in accordance with their own inner guidance, then would we stop trying to run their lives and live in peace with them.
We must be filled with love and care when associating with others without thoughts of possessing or manipulating others. When you think of possessing others, in a sense making others as captives, you yourself will become a captive. If you desire freedom you must give others their freedom.
Love Behind Hatred
When I went back to Hualien, aged 4, I was unhappy with my mother’s discipline. As I was spoiled by my grandparents, I was filled with rebellion. So, I was often beaten and scolded by my mother. My hatred towards my mother grew stronger. I remember when my father brought me to elementary school on his bicycle, he would often say to me: “In this world, no parent is ‘wrong’.” Once, I could not help but retort, “No, in our home, my mom is ‘wrong’!”
I remember that once my mother punished me by giving fruits to my siblings in my presence and deliberately not giving me any. I always vented my anger by writing a diary. I remember writing: “When I grow up, I will take revenge.”
As I grew up, I was caught in a cold war with my mother. So much so that when we met on the road, I would not call her or acknowledge her presence.
In order to escape this environment, I transferred to Taipei when I was in high school. Even though I was a hundred miles away from home, the hatred in my heart did not lessen. Frequently, I would wake up from the nightmares of my mother’s scolding and beating.
I had a good friend who knew of my hatred. She advised me: “If you hate someone, you will meet that person again in your next life.” To this sentence, whenever the thought of hating her arose, I would force myself to switch the thought off like turning off the light.
After I started working and getting paid, I performed the role of a daughter superficially. During mom’s birthday, Mothers’ Day and Chinese New Year, I never forgot to give her presents and “angpow”. But in my heart, I was unable to love her.
In 1994, I attended a Lapis Lazuli Light Workshop held in USA by Dr. Lai. She said: “We must
love all sentient beings.” I thought that I could not even love my own mother, how could I love all sentient beings. After returning to Taiwan, I woke up one morning, I visualize my mother in front of me and said to her: “I want to start to learn to love you.” This incredible mind power has brought amazing results! My mother, who rarely contacted me, called me suddenly that night and said: “You like eating organic vegetables, don’t you? In future, I will grow organic vegetables for you.”
I slowly came to understand how rebellious I was when I was a child. My mother was still young then and could not control her emotions. I had hurt my mother deeply. Then, I built a wall of coldness and hatred. When this wall collapsed, I no longer had the nightmares of beating and scolding from my mother.
The St. Francis of Assisi-prayer has this sentence: “…it is in pardoning that we are pardoned…” I deeply realize the hatred I had at that time not only hurt my mother but also hurt me badly. I was imprisoned.
The few months before my mother passed away, I went back to Hualien to see her every week. At our last meeting, she told me, “You are my precious.” Although I know that the hatred we had disappeared long ago, in my heart I never felt my mother loved me.
My mother fully felt my inner thoughts. Shortly after she passed away, Dr. Lai called to tell me that my mother went to her and told her that I was her precious daughter. Even after my mother was gone, she was still trying hard to let me know how much she loved me. In my heart, arose a great gratitude.
Interpersonal relationship is very complicated. With her great love, perhaps my mother played a role in letting me learn the lesson of forgiveness in this life. For this, she was willing to suffer greatly on my behalf, to play her role well so that I could truly learn the lesson of transforming hate into love.
Perhaps, as Dr. Lai said, many people around us are here at our invitation to play various roles to help us complete the lessons we need to learn in this life. But only with a higher level of cognitive awareness, we are able to learn our lessons through life experience and attain spiritual growth. I want to tell my mother in heaven, “Mom, I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you!”
Leaving Our Concerns for People, Matters and Things to Heaven
One day, a friend called me and said, “My son quit school. I am so afraid and under a lot of pressure.” She asked me what she should do. I told her: “If using worldly approach, you are not able to solve the problem, then leave the problem with Heaven. (‘Heaven’ may also be referred to as God or Bodhisattva, depending on your own faith).
Visualize placing your son on your own hands, raising him up and then hand him to Heaven. Visualize light from heaven shining on him and his body glittering with the light. And feel your worry slowly disappearing, completely trusting Heaven. Then visualize your son standing up and walking towards the light, his face is filled with confidence. This method is very effective.
When we are worried, our energy would bind the other party and may also cause our worries to actually happen. When you let go, the negative energy vanishes. This is also a method to release our own negative energy.
Something incredible happened to this friend. Soon, the son told her, “I have decided to try to get into a better school.” Sure enough, he was later admitted to a school that was much better than the original one. So if you have problems with anyone, any matter and anything that cannot be solved in the usual way, you can hand it to heaven.
Meditation is also a method to strengthen yourself. Gently close your eyes. Be in a very comfortable position. Recite in your heart: “I, so and so, sincerely pray to God. I pray for all the teachers to please listen to me. I hope to solve these problems in my life (narrate the problems you encountered), please help me have wisdom to solve these problems.” Then visualize all these teachers in heaven happily surrounding you. Hand all your problems one by one into their hands, because you trust them.
Feel yourself sitting under a midnight blue sky. It is now late at night. The sky is very beautiful, full of bright and shining stars. The teachings of the teachers are merged with the stars surrounding you. The inspiration you prayed for fall on you like the stars falling down one by one.
They may appear in your dreams, in the thoughts you have when you wake up in the early morning, in a sentence or words of your family and friends or in a book or in other different forms, to give you wisdom to solve your problems. After this visualization, you can feel your problem released in your heart.
If after prayers, things did not happen as you hoped, then please understand that in this matter, the universe may have a larger purpose or a greater effect in place. This may be another gift for you, to teach you another lesson in spirituality. Learn to accept this. It is a wonderful gift, nevertheless.
Note: Steps Toward Inner Peace, Peace Pilgrim.