How To Know When To Let Go, And How
How do you know when to let go, in business or personal situations in life. This is a very difficult question, but one that is vital to living a life that continuously moves forward. After all this planet is moving through space at 1,350,000 miles an hour, so we may as well keep moving also, it is just logical. Besides that, everything is always moving either forward or back. If something stands still it will have its appropriate equivalent to a stagnant pond, smelling and slimy, with no vibrant life at all.
Hanging on to regrets or to what happened in the past with bitterness and a desire to set things straight for your own personal or any other reasons, will only destroy your future by preventing you from living in the present, since you are stuck in the past. Christ said to turn the other cheek. I don’t think he meant to give them the other side to hit, but rather to turn and move on without looking back.
How do you get out of this trap of a downward spiral of boiling in your own juices about what has been done? While you think about getting even or getting justice, in the course of it all you continue to lose time, energy and money living a life of distasteful experiences. Isn’t that normally how life turns out for those that are always thinking of the past? Funny how people who have much to complain about from the past seem to get more new troubles each day. Better to accept all loses and move on with the experience gained. There was one building that I sold when I was a real estate agent in Montreal and my commission due was $150,000. I worked for one year managing the property after I sold it among all the other proprieties that the buyer owned and I finally got $50,000 out of the $150,000 coming to me. That may be considered a loss of $100,000 and a years time, something most people would grumble about for a very long time. I was upset, but it took about 2 hours and I was over it. It did not stop me from doing my other business which at the time was developing and operating one hour photo stores, along with my real estate business.
I used the experiences I received in my year as a property manager in my negotiations for the leases of my own stores. One particular shopping mall was owned by a less than honest or scrupulous man, one who thought he could easily take advantage of this 23 year old kid. In allowing him to flex his ego and allowing myself to look innocent as he thought I was, using my hard earned experience, I was able to structure the lease in such a way that not only I did not get cheated, but I saved $250,000 over the five year term.
So the apparent loss of $100,000 gave a direct return of $250,000, not to mention several other deals that were worth many times that amount as I continued in business. If I had stayed bitter about being cheated, I probably would not have been in the positive frame of mind to approach the new deals that came my way. I may have taken a bitter attitude that all businessmen are rotten and so never taken another chance in business for myself. Or perhaps I would have just approached any deal with such fear and negativity that I would not have gotten the opportunity to rent that store in the first place.
What good does it do to fight about the past? When I came to America I got involved in the real estate business again after having been retired for many years. And as happens, I encountered another dishonest person. I went to a lawyer to inquire about my rights since I was new and unfamiliar with this country. Completely against the stereotype of his profession he gave me the wisest advice. He pointed out that I could fight and may win, but I would be better off walking away and accepting the loss on this one deal and make so much money on the other properties in the development that I created, and just enjoy the profits. He didn’t even charge me for his time. Perhaps he was possessed by God for half an hour. Whether it was him or the gods, he reminded me of what I used to do years earlier. I ended up making so much money on the project that the total losses where not more than 10% of the gains. If I had fought for what was rightfully mine, it would have created so much frustration in my life that I would not have enjoyed the money I did make.
In using Archery as a meditative practice, when the arrow misses the bullseye, the archer does not look at the bow, the arrow, or any other reason for the miss, he looks at himself. What was wrong in his posture, breathing, or mental focus. It is his fault, not the person who made the bow or the string or the wind. Such is the same in our difficulties in this world. If you have a business or personal difficulty, then first you must examine where you made an error which gave someone the opportunity to cheat you, or in the case of no fault of your own, to look inwards at your mental and emotional response. Did you convince yourself to avoid seeing the obvious, not accepting the situation? Perhaps the fault is yours for not acknowledging the signs.
Are you boiling in your own juices and therefore stuck in one pot, or are you being a good chef and just dumping the food that got burnt and making a new batch, freely moving around the kitchen, and when your job there is done, to go anywhere in the house and beyond. This is the lesson from the Islamic teaching, “Trust in God, but tie your camel.” Or perhaps the Latin saying written before Christ was born, “Caveat Emptor” Buyer beware. If it has been this way for thousands of years, why are you upset as if it should not be this way now?
Taking a recent example from my life, a friend was following me into town, we each had our own cars and she didn’t know the way to our destination. She was following me in heavy traffic and as we approached our destination, we got separated, but fortunately she very intelligently went to a nearby coffee shop that we frequent, which was what I hoped for, and we met there. She was rather upset with me that I had turned and she did not have the chance to follow, a perfect situation for a fight. Instead of reacting to her, I just calmly explained that there was nothing I could do in traffic and that since we met up here, it all worked out OK in the end. No fight. The point of the story is to say that we often engage in a fight when we feel guilty and know we made a mistake. She was right that I should have indicated I was going to turn far earlier than I did so she would have had the chance to stay with me, and I admitted I was wrong, but limited due to traffic. By being objective about the situation and not engaging in a fight, the subject vanished before it became a problem. Life is like that, there are many situations that we get into either by our own actions or by circumstance, and it is our own doing that builds a battle. If you could accept all things in this world as perfectly right, then you would not get upset or feel attacked. This is not a perfect world, it has its own way of functioning which is not in alignment with our hopes and dreams of the perfect world and perfect people. Accept that you do not know what is always ultimately right.
A great part of our pains in life come from living in our own illusion that things should be different. It would be nice, but being practical calls for being realistic which means dealing with things as they are rather than as you want them to be. With acceptance, you will not get upset, you may not like what happens to you, but you will not boil in your own juices and waste your life. You win some, you lose some. There is no such thing as your truth and my truth. In all things there is only one truth. Rather, there is your illusion and my illusion, but still only one ultimate truth.
Here is the key to freedom from your limitations in progressing by being tied to the past with regret and bitterness. Acceptance. If you think you know what is right and wrong and what everything is being done for, then you are so arrogant that of course you will be stuck in the past. Only humility will free you from a nasty life. When a building is torn down, to regret its loss is only to say that you would rather the entire world stayed the same and evolution would come to a halt. You do not know what new structure will be built. We can only hope that it will be better than the last, but even if it was a beautiful castle that was destroyed, would you like to live in a stone or wood building with no indoor plumbing, heating, windows or electricity?
When you lose a possession, a job, almost anything, rather than see it as a loss and keeping your head stuck in the past, try to look to the future with an open heart knowing that now there is room for a new opportunity which may lead to something far better. Change for any reason brings growth. Do you live to accumulate more and more money and power and possessions, which one day you will have to say goodbye to anyway, or are you more interested in accumulating knowledge and wisdom which you carry with you from life to life. There is only one thing that cannot be taken from you, and that is your experience. Experience brings wisdom if it is taken positively no matter what the experience is. The glass is always full, part with water and part with air. Just because your eyes cannot see the air does not mean it isn’t there, you just have to look with your mind.
In allowing the events of this messed up world to run their course, and devoting yourself to following your course, which is the evolution of your own spirit and mind, then you may become the one who brings the newest and most beneficial gifts to the world. Lao Tzu taught thousands of years ago to follow a gentle guiding path allowing the river to run its course without fighting it. Once you have attained a high state of consciousness, you will be fulfilling your destiny, which may be to change the world, or it may be to drive a garbage truck. The point is that you will put the energy that is given to you for this life to the best use it can be, for its own cultivation.
So much of our time is spent reading letters or news and getting riled up about what we read, without being able to, or even thinking to, verify the information. Humans have a foolish tendency to believe what they read or hear without any verification or discrimination. This is why one of the exercises I teach is to fast from the media for one month. That means no TV, radio, newspapers, nothing of the media and news broadcasts. If people talk about the current events, try not to get involved with the conversation, but sometimes that cannot be avoided. Just try not to read a paper or magazine or any news media for 2 weeks and then see what your mental state is. So far the results have been unanimous, a much calmer state of mind yet still informed of what is relevant in the world to their personal life. I have been without TV, newspapers, radio and any other media for 20 years now, yet nobody seems to think I am uninformed. As a matter of fact I impress people with my knowledge. I have found that whatever is truly necessary is a matter of conversation and I get to know about. But the majority of what hits the news is of a subject matter much closer to gossip, and what good is that for your personal development? I do not have to be the first to hear the news, if it matters, I will get it eventually.
You must determine your goals in life. Is it to be David against Goliath but with no Divine support, or would you choose to develop the Divine connection with your own self and become a strong individual before you go attack Goliath. If you blame others for the problems of the world, then you are not working on yourself. If you do not work on yourself, what would be the point of changing the world? Nobody would be worthy of living in this great world. Instead of all this pointing outwards to the unjust, just devote your time to looking inwards and polishing your own heart.
There is no easy way to change, it is only through logical reasoning and repeated effort whenever you catch yourself. The reason logic is the tool is because hanging on to the past is a trait of the lower ego through the intellect. The only way to effect change in the intellect is through its own vehicle of logic.
“Not through reforming others, but through reforming oneself, can one make any practical improvement.