I recently had the opportunity to see the Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery in southern India create a stunning sand mandala. They spent four days constructing the intricate masterpiece, and then swept it all up in a ceremony symbolizing impermanence. The tradition dates back centuries and reminds us that in life we can put our all into whatever we do and remain unattached to the permanence of a particular outcome; that nothing lasts forever and that letting go is a key component to working with the laws of nature.
But knowing when to let go is not always easy. Especially when it’s something we’ve poured our heart and soul into. There are times, though, when undeniable indications arise that can’t be ignored; signs begin to become more and more clear that continuing in the same way would not be beneficial.
In life we’re often taught to persevere, to work through the inevitable obstacles and setbacks that arise along the path of following our passion. And indeed these are opportunities for learning, for growth, and for refining our mission. But there is a fine line between determination and obstinance. And sometimes we don’t even know how holding on is holding us back until we begin to let go. It is in this moment that we can more clearly see how enduring might have become the very thing that was keeping us from moving forward; and how the commitments that might have at one time been the very ground on which we firmly stood can now no longer hold us up. But all things have their time, and all things have an ending and/or a moment of transformation into something better. By letting go, we can allow for a new way forward to emerge that might previously have been obscured by our resistance to change.
What the Buddhists teach about impermanence, the Yogis view as the ever-changing nature of existence; the dynamic cycle of creation-maintenance-destruction-creation that lies at the heart of life itself. When we resist change, we go against the intrinsic characteristics of the universe; when we can ride the waves of change, we open ourselves to greater and greater possibility. And it is in these times, that our practice becomes the very foundation on which we can navigate through the currents of transformation, giving us clarity of vision, strength, and insight to move forward with acceptance and grace.
Change is not only inevitable it is essential. For without change, stagnancy sinks in and grabs hold of our life force. What comes must also go. And what falls must rise again, in a new and better form. When we let go, we are not giving up, but rather giving in to aligning with a higher power and allowing for the best possible way forward.