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Saying the mantra (4:02)
Clean
February 16, 2010 01:52 AM PST

 
Letting go
Clean
February 15, 2010 01:55 AM PST

LETTING GO

(EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert, pp. 245-9)

I climbed to the top of the tower. I was now standing at the tallest place in the Ashram, with a view overlooking the entirety of this river valley in India. Mountains and farmland stretched out as far as I could see. I had a feeling this was not a place students were normally allowed to hang out, but it was so lovely up there. Maybe this is where my Guru watches the sun go down, when she's in resiĀ¬dence here. And the sun was going down right now. The breeze was warm. I unfolded the piece of paper the plumber/poet had given me.

He had typed:

INSTRUCTIONS FOR FREEDOM

1. Life's metaphors are God's instructions.
2. You have just climbed up and above the roof There is nothing between you and the Infinite. Now, let go.
3. The day is ending. It's time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.
4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. Your being here is God's response. Let go, and watch the stars come out-on the outside and on the inside.
5. With all your heart, ask for grace, and let go.
6. With all your heart, forgive him, FORGIVE YOURSELF, and let him go.
7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go.
8. Watch the heat of day pass into the cool night.
Let go.
9. When the karma of a relationship is done, only love remains. It's sa/e. Let go.
10 . When the past has passed from you at last, let go. Then climb down and begin the rest of your life. With great joy.

For the first few minutes, I couldn't stop laughing. I could see over the whole valley, over the umbrella of the mango trees, and the wind was blowing my hair around like a flag. I watched the sun go down, and then I lay down on my back and watched the stars come out. I sang a small little prayer m Sanskrit, and repeated it every time I saw a new star emerge in the darkening sky, almost like I was calling forth the stars, but then they started popping out too fast and I couldn't keep up with them. Soon the whole sky was a glitzy show of stars. The only thing between me and God was ... nothing.

Then I shut my eyes and I said, "Dear Lord, please show me everything I need to understand about forgiveness and surrender." What I had wanted for so long was to have an actual conversation with my ex-husband, but this was obviously never going to happen. What I had been craving was a resolution, a peace summit, from which we could emerge with a united understanding of what had occurred in our marriage, and a mutual forgiveness for the ugliness of our divorce. But months of counseling and mediation had only made us more divided and locked our positions solid, turning us into two people who were absolutely incapable of giving each other any release. Yet it's what we both needed, I was sure of it. And I was sure of this, too-that the rules of transcendence insist that you will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame. As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff of it is bad for you. I mean, what kind of prayer is this to imbibeĀ¬"Give us this day our daily grudge"? You might just as well hang it up and kiss God good-bye if you really need to keep blaming somebody else for your own life's limitations. So what I asked of God that night on the Ashram roof was-given the reality that I would probably never speak to my ex-husband again-might there be some level upon which we could communicate? Some level on which we could forgive?

I lay up there, high above the world, and I was all alone. I dropped into meditation and waited to be told what to do. I don't know how many minutes or hours passed before I knew what to do. I realized 1'd been thinking about all this too literally. 1'd been wanting to talk to my ex-husband? So talk to him. Talk to him right now. 1'd been waiting to be offered forgiveness? Offer it up personally, then. Right now. I thought of how many people go to their graves unforgiven and unforgiving. I thought of how many people have had siblings or friends or children or lovers disappear from their lives before precious words of clemency or absolution could be passed along. How do the survivors of terminated relationships ever endure the pain of unfinished business? From that place of meditation, I found the answer: you can finish the business yourself, from within yourself. It's not only possible, it's essential.
And then, to my surprise, still in meditation, I did an odd thing. I invited my ex-husband to please join me up here on this rooftop in India. I asked him if he would be kind enough to meet me up here for this farewell event. Then I waited until I felt him arrive. And he did arrive. His presence was suddenly absolute and tangible. I could practically smell him.

I said, "Hi, sweetie."
I almost started to cry right then, but quickly realized I didn't need to. Tears are part of this bodily life, and the place where these two souls were meeting that night in India had nothing to do with the body. The two people who needed to talk to each other up there on the roof were not even people anymore. They wouldn't even be talking. They weren't even ex-spouses, not an obstinate Midwesterner and a high-strung Yankee, not a guy in his forties and a woman in her thirties, not two limited people who had argued for years about sex and money and furniture-none of this was relevant. For the purposes of this meeting, at the level of this reunion, they were just two cool blue souls who already understood everything. Unbound by their bodies, unbound by the complex history of their past relationship, they came together above this roof (above me, even) in infinite wisdom. Still in meditation, I watched these two cool blue souls circle each other, merge, divide again and regard each other's perfection and similarity. They knew everything. They knew everything long ago and they will always know everything. They didn't need to forgive each other; they were born forgiving each other.

***

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