Embracing Life Through Letting Go

Embrace the art of letting go as a path to divine love and spiritual liberation.

Embarking on a journey to understand divine love, this exploration delves into the necessity of release for spiritual growth.

This message is the third in the series Love Loves Love, an exploration of Divine Love. The focus—love requires letting go—continues that theme. No matter how much we may want to love, realize love, and express it, without a commitment and discipline to purify the mental field, the light of love within us cannot shine through us.



Inner Pilgrimage: A Pathway to Love's Embrace

I recently returned from a pilgrimage to the holy cities of Rishikesh and Varanasi in India. It was a profound journey, spiritually fulfilling beyond words—though I will try to tell you about it.

Coming back from India, I arrived home late in the evening and went straight to bed. When I got up the following day, I went into my office, which has a sliding glass door that overlooks our garden. I opened the drapes and was greeted by an astounding color chorus of purple, multiple shades of green, white, pink, red, coral, and yellow. Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello! While I was away, everything had burst into bloom. What a joy to experience that greeting.

I’m now passing it on to you as a familiar metaphor for a well-tended inner life. To live in love, we must make our mind a beautiful blooming garden. Our mental field is our window to the world. It shapes and colors what we see and experience.

"With our thoughts we make the world."

—Buddha, the Dhammapada

Cultivating the Mind's Garden: Tending to Thoughts

A teaching from the Buddha (the Dhammapada, trans. Byrom)

We are what we think.

All that we are arises with our thoughts.

With our thoughts we make the world.

Speak or act with a pure mind, and happiness will follow you

As your shadow, unshakable

“Look how he abused me and beat me,

How he threw me down and robbed me.”

Live with such thoughts, and you live in hate.

“Look how he abused me and beat me,

how he threw me down and robbed me.”

Abandon such thoughts and live in love.

In this world, Hate never yet dispelled hate.

Only love dispels hate.

This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible.

We all know a beautiful blooming garden requires well gardening—planting, watering, tending, and weeding. When it comes to our thoughts and emotions, learning how to let go when it is time to let go is the weeding part. And, like any beautiful garden, it’s not a one-time thing. It requires a commitment to notice and weed out negative thoughts—resentment (the greatest mind crabgrass), regret, worry, fears, jealousy, anger, lust, and greed.

Remembering a Spiritual Teacher: Love and Legacy

A compelling inspiration drew me to my recent India pilgrimage to Varanasi. I was called there—to the land of our spiritual ancestors, to celebrate the life of Roy Eugene Davis, my spiritual teacher and guru, on the 5th anniversary of his passing on March 27, 2019. I have personally marked that occasion each year, and we do as well as a community that was so blessed by the teachings of Kriya Yoga he offered us. This particular year felt somehow different to me, like a marker in time different than the years before. I cannot fully explain why; let me say it is something my heart knew.

It felt especially important to visit the land of my teacher’s spiritual ancestors (and of ours), the great yoga masters whose vision and generosity brought Kriya Yoga to the West. To walk the winding, narrow pathways through the cobblestone streets of ancient Varanasi, stand at the door of Lahiri Mahasaya’s home and feel the impact of knowing he passed through that doorway so many times, as well as his disciple—Swami Sri Yukteswar, the guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, my teacher’s teacher. To walk to the bathing ghat on the Ganges River, where they went every day.

We were fortunate to have a small private boat, and a boatman arranged to ferry us to the middle of the Ganges River on the morning of March 27th to offer the ceremony to honor my teacher. There on the holy river, with the sun rising in the sky and the ancient holy city of Varanasi before us, sweet food, flowers, incense, ghee lamps, prayers, mantras, and songs were offered with gratitude for all he gave to us so selflessly over 60 years of dedication to this path.

Offerings on the Ganges: Symbols of Life's Flow

For me, it was also an important time for letting go--letting go of any thoughts or feelings I had about letting him down in any way, either somehow doing or saying what I should not have or neglecting to do what I should. Or holding on to any thoughts about what others said or did or did not do. It was time to let any remnant of that go, to bless his life, to bless my own, to celebrate all of his students and ministers, and to honor all the ways his work goes forth into the world and prospers.

The offerings were placed on a basket tray. At the culmination of the ceremony, I placed a small photo of him on top of all the offerings, carried it over to the side of the boat, released it into the river, and watched it float away. As you might imagine, it was an open-hearted moment beyond space and time. Gratitude and Love pervaded my heart, my mind, my being.

Love Requires Letting Go

Delve into the essence of Divine Love and the transformative power of letting go. Yogacharya shares insights from a pilgrimage that offers deep lessons on the power of release, honoring legacies, and the eternal bridge toward spiritual awakening.


Continuing the Journey: From Letting Go to Love

As I watched the basket tray of offerings with tiny ghee lamps and flowers and his photo riding on top of it all move away with the current, I noticed the direction. It was not moving toward the ancient city, the burning funeral pyres, the bathing ghats, or the ashrams. It moved toward the open water and the Mal(a)viya Bridge that spans the Ganges at Varanasi.

I thought, how like him! No need to get stuck in the past; move on! And moving toward the bridge symbolized his life work for me. He, himself, was a bridge—offering a way that connected wisdom from the East and the West, both spiritual and practical, ancient and ever-new, a path for spiritually conscious living in this world today.

I remembered him telling us what Yogananda told him: Don’t look back. Don’t concern yourself with what others do or fail to do. Don’t be distracted. Look straight ahead to the goal of Self- and God-realization in this lifetime. And you can do it! That is the message he gave us, too.

Don’t be distracted by what others say or do or what you fail to do. Learn to let go and move on toward love and freedom. Baba Hari Dass often advised, Keep God in your heart and move on.

It’s difficult when we are stuck in the past and can’t seem to let go. The mind relentlessly circles around old wounds, failures, and betrayals.

Returning to Love: Our Truest Nature

I experience letting go as a pathway to greater love, much like love itself. I cannot make it happen just because I want to. I can’t tell myself to Love, and love happens. I also cannot tell myself to let go and find that my mind is instantly free of its ruminations on the past.

But this is what I do know. Because God is Love, Life supports us in returning to love, in awakening to the highest truth of our being. We can’t free ourselves because we are already free. We can’t make ourselves love because we are already Love itself.

What can we do? Be willing. Willing to forgive, willing to love, willing to let go. When we are truly willing, Love reveals itself.

To close:

Mary Oliver, “I Worried” that speaks about the willingness to let it all go. It is from the collection of her poetry titled Devotions.

I Worried

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers

flow in the right direction, will the earth turn

As it was taught, and if not, how shall

I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,

can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows

can do it and I am, well,


Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,

am I going to get rheumatism,

lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.

And gave it up. And took my old body

And went out into the morning,

and sang.

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