The Art of Letting go

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

It seems like life has been difficult for a lot people lately and I too had experienced a lot of changes and difficult times. With the economy in bad shape and with so many natural disasters happening to so many people, we wonder if we are going through a period of redefining our value and belief system.

I came across an article by Richard Rohr who is a Franciscan priest who writes about the art of letting go: living the wisdom of Saint Francis. What he taught was so helpful that I decided to summarize it because it is so relevant to what is happening now.

He said, “You must lose your life to find your life, and if you do not let it go you will never find it.” – the paradox is that it is through loss, crisis, stress or limitation that we move into higher states of consciousness and freedom.

So we might say that creativity, newness in life has a cost. But that which looks like loss or death from outside allow us to be united with what is real.- I find this to be very profound. I learned a great deal from this statement and feel a lot better in coping with my own loss.

Saint Francis was born in 1181A.D. in Assisi, Italy. He was called to join the Fourth Crusade. At age 21 he was imprisoned by the Perugians. He escaped from prison, dazed, disillusioned and deeply hoping for more in life:- there had to be something more than this. He realized the intrinsic connection between violence and possessions.

His father was the first generation of businessmen that own properties in Assisi and Francis understood that his father’s obsession with possessions and property had in many ways destroyed his soul. Francis eventually realized that the only way out of such of world was a life of voluntary poverty– to simply not be a part of the moneyed class. He knew that once you owned it, you would have to protect it, and for some reason you would always try to get more of it.

As Francis explained: if you go through the first death, the second death can do you no harm. He then set out on a path of facing head-on this death from what we called the false self. Once we are rid of all the accouterments, and all the decoration that culture and ego and personality provide us, the true self is revealed for all of us to see.

Our false self becomes the raw material for our life. Somewhere along the line, hopefully by the time you are middle age- an event occurs that disappoints your false self: It is usually some kind of death, failure, loss of marriage, loss of job, loss of money, loss of reputation, you have to some how die before you die. If you are not disappointed in the way you constructed your personality, you will keep building onto it. You will keep defining yourself as this reputation and as this reward and this success-and that is partially true, but it is not enough.

Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr

There is another self. As Richard Rohr called it the true self. It is who you are and always have been and always will be. This is the metaphysical self that existed from the moment of your conception. It is not created. It is something you surrender to.

Richard talked about letting go. If you are not practiced at letting go, you will hold on to your false self and never discover your true self. We think we are what we have created, what our culture, our religion and our mistakes have created. We are much more than that. That is what probably what we meant by our soul. It is your inner deepest blue print, your divine DNA. It is who you are before you did anything right or wrong. It is only experienced when you live in a moment of pure presence, when you are not labeling, judging, analyzing, critiquing, rewarding or punishing.

The false self is always easily offended. The false self is so fragile, so insecure. Once you have a taste of the true self and you only have to do it once and you will remember forever. The seduction of the false self-such as fancy clothes, cars, houses-do not seduce you quite as much. You can enjoy them but you do not need them. Western civilization lives almost entirely out of false self. Everything is perks and privileges and possessions. These are all things that in the end are going to pass away.

Like Saint Francis said, “Once you get a taste of the true self, you can never get enough of it because you know you are living in the eternal. What spirituality is teaching in all the world’s religions, as far as I can see, is how to die before you die, or as I like to say: how to practice heaven now.”

With the frequency of changes that come our way lately whether it is loss of jobs or loss of home through disasters we become more aware of what is more important to our lives and we become aware of our true self. This reminded me of when I was watching CNN, the reporter asked the person whose house was flooded of how he is going to deal with all the water in his house. His answer was so appropriate, “I am not going to worry about that now. All I can say is I am so grateful that I am alive and that is most important!”

I wish you well and that you are living life to the fullest and practice heaven now. Practice letting go.


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  1. Liz says:

    Beautiful, eloquent, thought-provoking, inspirational….speaks to the soul. Thank you for sharing with us. Liz

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