I couldn’t help but laugh yesterday when I found out that virtually all the positions for the career path I wanted have been closed. Pretty much all the planning I did was a waste. Maybe a year ago I would have been sad and angry, and totally destroyed. I laughed because it summarizes everything I have learned over this year about letting go and having faith that things work out for a reason. You can carefully craft your future and the life you want, you can dream so much you feel like you can touch the future and sometimes it just all falls through. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
I’m one of those people that plans a lot, but I don’t really care to manage the details. I’m a dreamer and I’m really attached to my dreams. I never realized that translates to “I like having control.” It’s the control of making the things you want to happen come true. It’s the attachment of being inflexible once you’ve decided you want something. Uncertainty bothers me so much that I can’t sleep with unfinished business. I have to resolve things as soon as possible and I need to at least have an idea of where things are going. So over the course of this last year I’ve gotten the opportunity to learn to let go a little. Obviously it happens in stages, and I still have a bunch of dreams I’m having a hard time deleting, but I’m getting more flexible!
It’s hard to describe how I got from goal-based, time-line focused, and scheduled to learning that sometimes the very best things in life are unplanned. I have met two people over this last year who have been part of the only handful of people who have been the deep meaningful relationships that have shaped who I am. They gave me the chance to challenge my thinking. Although they don't know each other, they both gave me a space to have meaningful conversations about life. I was able to put down all my walls and be my true vulnerable self (which was super scary but extremely valuable). Yet all of this was unplanned. Part of my growth was the realization that putting life on hold to do one thing at a time just doesn’t work. My ideal priorities are spirituality, health, family, then work. But in practice, family and school have competed for the top priority and my health and spirituality have been on the back burner. I used to think “when I finish school, I will…” but life just doesn’t work that way! Things happen simultaneously, you can't spend your life waiting, especially not to fulfill your purpose of meeting God. The other part of letting go was the realization that some things in life are worth giving up your plans for. Some things are worth putting all your eggs in one basket and risking it, even if it doesn’t work out. In my case, I did do that a couple of times, and it totally didn't work out, but I don't regret the decision because that's what life's about.
In the world we are required to do worldly things. We have responsibilities, we have work to be done. For example, I’m required by my school program to be planning 1-2 years ahead. I’ve learned from listening to many kathas (from mysimran.info) that the difference is that you shouldn’t attach yourself to the outcome. Do the work without obsessing over it. Let go of the ego of what you are doing and accept that this is about having faith in God and accepting His will. So in reality, this letting go is really a lesson about having faith and trusting God. I’m learning to accept that some things are just karma, and what I have control over is this breath and whether I use it to remember God. The only thing that will go with you when you die is your soul. Your relationships should be focused on helping other people meet God so they can be successful in that too, gurbani tells us this (“Rare are those beings in this world, who contemplate the Word of the Guru’s Shabad, and remain detached. They save themselves, and save all their associates and ancestors; fruitful is their birth and coming into this world ”p 1039 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.) I’m realizing that no matter what if I am walking towards my purpose of meeting God, nothing is a failure. I'm starting to let go of all other outcomes. I had thought I wanted to move away for school, and having spent 4 weeks away from home, I realized that home is what shaped who I am and I'm not sure why I would want to be going elsewhere. Whatever happens, I will be flexible and accept that is God’s plan for me, whether that's staying or moving. God will resolve everything, and it will work out. I know this because I had a huge list of things that needed to get done yesterday and after I did my simran, it turned out half the things on the list didn't need to be done. “Kabeer, place your hopes in the lord; other hopes lead to despair” (p.1369).
One year ago I listened to Sant Maskeen’s lecture on anxiety. Having listened to it again, it means a lot more given the context of all of the new spiritual knowledge. A few things stuck out. He says everyone has pain, and it comes from the desire of “what I want should happen, and what I don’t want shouldn’t happen.” The way to rid yourself of this is to remember that God’s Hukam is above all, to let go of your own desire. Lastly, I really liked his example: If a room is dark for 50 yrs, you don’t need 50 yrs to bring it light, you need ONE SECOND to make the dark room light up. Similarly, all we have to do is remember God, not with just our mouths but with our full concentration and power. “When you are under the power of sexual desire, anger and worldy attachment, or a greedy miser in love with your wealth, if you have committed the four great sins and other mistakes; even if you are a murderous fiend who has never taken the time to listen to sacred books, hymns and poetry- if you then come to remember the Supreme Lord God, and contemplate Him even for a moment, you shall be saved” (p. 70).