This is Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching about the practice of nurturing serenity using letting go.
Taken and largely edited by myself from his book: “No Mud, No Lotus.”
One method of creating /maintaining serenity is to leave behind, to accept.
There is a kind of joy, and liberation that comes from letting go.
Many of us are bound to so many things. We believe these things are necessary for our survival, our security, and our happiness. But many of these things—or more precisely, our beliefs about their utter necessity—are r obstacles to our ongoing joy, happiness, and ultimate serenity. Sometimes you think that having a certain career, diploma, salary, house, car, or partner is crucial for your happiness. You think you can not live without them.
Even when you have achieved that situation or that person, you continue to be dissatisfied, to suffer because you are afraid to lose them, and because you are looking for other things to get to make you happy.
Our attachments to X, Y, or Z, have no limit in quantity and degree.
They are almost an addiction.
At the same time, you’re still afraid that, if you lose or let go of what you have attained, you will be more
miserable without this object or person to whom you were
So: you can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it. Double-edged sword. This is craziness. If you come to look deeply into your endless, and transient craving attachments about x, y, or z, you will realize that it is in fact the very obstacle to maintaining joy and happiness.
Is there a constructive approach?
Yes, because you have the capacity to let it go which is different from giving up. Instead, this is part of wisdom.
Letting go takes a lot of courage because our ego will fight strongly against it.
How it works?
Once you realize that everything is transient, and out of our control, our attachments to them, even
the strongest ones should be more realistic, more rational, and more pragmatic, that is less emotional
w/o trying, of course, to eliminate them because it is impossible, and not recommended.
This attitude will reduce our subconscious anxiety and worries about losing our sources of attachment.
1- In order to achieve happiness and well-being in life, having attachments to X, Y, and Z, at various
degrees is absolutely necessary. We cannot function w/o them, and it is okay.
2- However, we have to be mindful of the fact that none of our sources of attachment are permanent
and none of them are under our control.
3- Therefore our attachments can be - at the subconscious level- the source of anxiety, worry,
anger, and so on......... because of being worried about losing them.
4- Letting them go 100% is impossible, but we should be a bit more pragmatic, more realistic,
more rational, and somewhat less emotional about them.w/o cutting the bridges.
5- Meditating on the above 1-2-3-4 is one fundamental step in our journey towards serenity and
I will elaborate further on letting go in another Dharma talk. Thanks