Letting Go of Control

By Gangaji from her book “The Diamond in Your Pocket”

     Spiritual maturity is usually considered a necessity for true awakening, and I am often asked if there is a sign of spiritual maturity. It’s true that spiritual maturity is a necessity. This kind of maturity, however, has little to do with how people usually conceive it. It is not related to the number of years you have devoted to spiritual practice, or the number of years you have prayed, or the number of years you have been good. At the most basic level, spiritual maturity has to do with the realization that you are not in control. This is, of course, a shattering realization, because from the age of two, you have believed in the possibility of control, and much of your attention and energy has been funneled into the fight for control.

     The desire to be in control, the illusion of being in control, and the hope of being in control are all based on the megalomaniacal belief that you know when and what the outcome should be. Obviously, you can control many things to a greater or lesser degree, but there is nothing that you can totally control. You can control your bodily functions to a degree, as well as circumstances, thoughts, emotions, position and survival, but you can never have complete control.

     You need no model for letting go. You cannot do letting go. Neither is letting go a kind of saintly passivity, not being bothered by anything. The mind is very slippery and can even use the desire to let go as a tactic for control.

     Letting go of control is a deeper relaxation, a floating on the ocean. You can become aware of where you are holding on, and you can just let go and allow the ocean to hold you. You can become aware that all your tension and clinging are unnecessary, and then relax and let yourself be supported. In this same way, you can become aware of all the mental and emotional energy that gets exerted in holding on to a particular story, and you can just let it all go. There is a deeper intelligence than the one you can use to control, and it is present to be recongnized in all lives, at all moments.

     Different emotions may arise, including fear, because to let go means you could fall, or you could lose something. Yes! Be willing to lose everything. It is the same as meeting your death. Consciously meeting your death means discovering what cannot be controlled and what is bigger than anyone’s power to control; there can be a blessed surrender to that.

     If you are searching for a safe, comfortable life, then freedom I am pointing to is not for you. The invitation to accept the diamond of life is not an invitation to safety and comfort. It is an invitation to live fully and completely, which is never safe and often umcomfortable.

     Comfort and safety are often searched for because of the belief that they will bring happiness and fulfillment: “If I am just safe enough, then I can relax”. But I am talking about recognizing that you can relax right now, even though you aren’t completely safe and you never will be. In that understanding is more than safety for the body, mind or emotions. There is the safety not of any particular form of being, meaning your body or your loved ones’ bodies, but of beingness, which is eternal.

     I would like to make the distinction here between control and support, since much misery is experienced in the belief that one can control and great joy is experienced in providing support. To support the health of the body, to support the health of the planet, and to support the awakening of all beings is joyous and natural. But to futilely imagine that you can control the health of your body, that you can control the health of the planet or the awakening of allbeings, actually creates suffering. This suffering takes attention and energy away from the support you can offer.

     In the hope of controlling, your energy and attention are always on some desired outcome, always checking “Is my body healthy? Are their bodies healthy? Is the planet healthy? Are they waking up? Am I waking up?” Your energy and attention are focused on an end rather than on providing support in this moment. When you shift your attention from control to support, you gain release. You experience fullness as you give up the hope of control, and this fullness can be used to lend support.

     The area where you do have some control, and which is too often overlooked, is in the choice of where you put your attention. You can choose to put attention on consciously recognizing what does not need to be controlled and what does not need to be physically well to be truly free, and you can support others in that.

     If your attention is on the desire to control, your mind clutches at what you think must happen, should happen, or did happen. That clutching perpetuates suffering. If your desire is to support rather than to control, you will catch fire. The mind will stop its clutching and will begin to open. What follows the natural opening of the mind is the most profound, the most mysterious, the most unspeakable realization.

     As you investigate your attempts to control, ask yourself : What do I try to control? Be as honest as possible, and then even more honest. Be aware of any defenses to truly seeing, and be willing to drop these defenses. Perhaps you will uncover even more completely what has been hidden behind the closed doors of the mind. Through honest investigation, these doors can open, offering a deep opportunity for surrender.

     Open your mind to the possibility that each moment and every circumstance in your life can be a natural investigation into responding without controlling. Do you recongnize the difference in responding to what occurs rather attempting to control? Can you rest in your capacity to respond? Can you rest in your own innate intelligence?

     Now you can ask yourself: What cannot be controlled? Perhaps through this investigation, you will recognize the enormous energy and mental activity that you have spent unnecessarily in attempting to control what cannot be controlled. Can you open to the possibility of trusting what remains when you let go of any attempt to control?

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