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Learn to let go and be free

This article has been selected and reprinted from Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj’s book, Spiritual Pearls for Enlightened Living, an inspirational collection of stories from the world’s great wisdom traditions.

By Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj

Once upon a time, there was a man who lived alone. He kept his money in a special jar so that no one could steal it. One day, while the man was out farming his land, a thief broke into his house. Looking for something to steal, he came across a heavy stone jar. He could barely jiggle it to hear the coins inside. He could not lift the jar. So the man stuck his hand in the jar to take out the money. His hand fit perfectly into the jar.

The man grabbed as much money as he could, holding it in his fist. But when he tried to pull out his hand, it would not come out. He tried his hardest to pull out his hand, but the fist made his hand wider. While holding the money, he could not get it through the neck of the jar. He let go of the money and his hand was freed to come out of the jar. But he was intent upon having the money, so he tried again and again. Each time he enclosed the coins in his fist, his hand was too wide to be removed from the jar.

Suddenly, he heard the owner coming home. He knew that if he did not get his hand out of the jar, he would be caught. But he was so intent upon trying to get the money out that he would not give up. The result was that the man came in, caught him, and had him arrested.

We too are like the thief in the story. Desires cause us to be caught with our hand in the jar. Desires keep us bound to this world. It is only by letting go of the things of this world that we can be free. We need to stop clutching for whatever binds us as prisoners of our desires so we can enjoy true freedom. We need to stop clutching and let go. Then we will find the joy of freedom.

What kind of joy did the thief have in his pursuit of the money? Instead he ended up a prisoner in the jail. We too are like prisoners in the jail of this physical world. We spend all our time going after things that will not give us happiness. Whatever material gains we have in the world can lead us to more bondage if we are attached to them. For example, if we want a big house, we have to work longer hours to pay for its mortgage. Then we need to fill it up with more and more furniture. That will take more time to work to pay for it, shop to buy it, and then to clean and repair everything. Before we know it, the house that was supposed to bring us pleasure has made us a slave to it. We no longer have time for our family, our children, or pursuits that will give us more fulfillment. We spend all our time going after things that may not give us true and lasting happiness.

Similarly, we may want to buy a computer to keep up with the latest technology. We then find ourselves working harder to buy all the right software and equipment to make it work. Soon we realize that we are not happy with a simple computer. We want to upgrade to a faster and more elaborate computer. Next, we find the computer that was supposed to save us time is taking up all our time. We end up spending hours learning to use the computer. We spend hours exploring the Internet. The e-mail system that was supposed to make communications faster is taking more and more of our time. Suddenly, we find fifty people e-mailing us daily and they expect an instantaneous response. If we do not respond right away they accuse us of being nonresponsive and indifferent. Soon, we are spending hours on the computer. We have become slaves to our possessions.

How can we end our bondage? We need to let go and be free. When we can let go of our desires for impermanent gains, we can be free. Then, our soul can experience the love and beauty that God has to offer. True happiness comes when we connect with the source of joy within us—our soul and God. To do so, we must turn our attention from the worldly enticements and listen to our soul. Beautiful melodies of God are playing within us all the time. Light and love are shining within us. By turning our attention from the world, we are releasing our hold on the coins that keep our hand stuck in the jar. By letting go, we are gaining eternal freedom.

By sitting in meditation, free from all worldly desires and attachments, we can let go and find ourselves free to soar back to God.

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