The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

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The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

34 THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYINGto live is learning to let go. And this is the tragedy and the ironyof our struggle to hold on: not only is it impossible, but itbrings us the very pain we are seeking to avoid.The intention behind grasping may not in itself be bad;there's nothing wrong with the desire to be happy, but whatwe grasp on to is by nature ungraspable. The Tibetans sayyou cannot wash the same dirty hand twice in the same runningriver, and, "No matter how much you squeeze a handfulof sand, you will never get oil out of it."Taking impermanence truly to heart is to be slowly freedfrom the idea of grasping, from our flawed and destructiveview of permanence, from the false passion for security onwhich we have built everything. Slowly it dawns on us thatall the heartache we have been through from grasping at theungraspable was, in the deepest sense, unnecessary. At thebeginning this too may be painful to accept, because it seemsso unfamiliar. But as we reflect, and go on reflecting, ourhearts and minds go through a gradual transformation. Lettinggo begins to feel more natural, and becomes easier and easier.It may take a long time for the extent of our foolishness tosink in, but the more we reflect, the more we develop theview of letting go; it is then that a shift takes place in our wayof looking at everything.Contemplating impermanence on its own is not enough: Youhave to work with it in your life. Just as medical studies requireboth theory and practice, so does life; and in life the practicaltraining is here, is now, in the laboratory of change. As changesoccur we learn to look at them with a new understanding; andthough they will still go on arising just as they did before,something in us will be different. The whole situation will nowbe more relaxed, less intense and painful; even the impact ofthe changes we go through we will find less shocking. Witheach successive change, we realize a little bit more, and ourview of living becomes deeper and more spacious.WORKING WITH CHANGESLet's try an experiment. Pick up a coin. Imagine that it representsthe object at which you are grasping. Hold it tightlyclutched in your fist and extend your arm, with the palm ofyour hand facing the ground. Now if you let go or relax yourgrip, you will lose what you are clinging onto. That's whyyou hold on.But there's another possibility: You can let go and yet keep

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