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Monday, March 24, 2008
Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be
Das, Lama Surya. Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation. While there isn't much really new here (after all, wisdom has a long tradition), I need to be frequently reminded. Whether approached as religion, philosophy, or ethical action, some truths just need to be reinforced.
The idea behind this book is transformation, and one of the most interesting transformations in this book is the transformation of an American-born Jewish boy greatly attached to his baseball mitt into a Lama and teacher of Buddhist principles.
In letting go of our attachments, Das notes that we are attached to more than things.
We are attached to "...our opinions and theories. We become attached to the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we think. We become inordinately attached to our status, accomplishments, and reputations--and what we think they say about us. We become attached to our biases, and habitual way of doing things. We become attached to religion and political preference; we even become attached to our fears and anxieties." And, "Often we cling to habits that aren't even comforting or satisfying simply because we are unable to let go or explore new ways to do things."
I loved this quote from T. S. Eliot: " For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."
It is important to do the best we can, but we have no control of the outcome and should not become attached to it. This coincides (for me) with much of existential thinking (whether religious as Dostoevsky's version or agnostic/atheistic as Camus' version) -- what is important is that we live with integrity and do our best.
My favorite section is the last section about mindfulness, a quality that I need to increase in my life, and Das gives a six week practice to increase our mindful awareness, sense of peace and serenity, and aliveness. I've been working on sound for nearly a week. So many background noises that we tune out...
Nonfiction. Philosophy/spiritual. 2003. 210 pages.