There was once a group of doctors who were traveling to remote villages in order to vaccinate people for a disease that was spreading throughout the country. The doctors had successfully vaccinated every village except for one. The people of this village believed that the disease was a gift from God and the vaccination was interfering with God’s plan. The doctors entered the village one last time to vaccinate the people, this time they were holding syringes in their hands.
The doctors were greeted by the village Elder, who explained once again that the people of the village were not interested in being vaccinated. The doctors tried to explain that if the people did not take the vaccination, it would jeopardize the health of everyone in the region. The village Elder simply replied by saying that whatever happens is God’s will.
With that, the doctors raised their syringes and wrestled the Elder to the ground. The Elder’s wife threw herself into the tussle and bit one of the doctors, drawing blood. After the fighting continued for some time, one of the doctors managed to plunge a needle filled with the vaccine into the village Elder’s leg. Suddenly everyone was quiet, and the scene became very still.
The Elder rose to his feet and immediately walked to his garden, where he picked his last remaining squash. He returned to the doctor who had been bitten and handed him the squash. The Elder apologized for not being able to offer the doctors anything more and they were very confused. The Elder explained that when the doctors entered the village, he considered them as adversaries. Now that the conflict was over, he considered them to be his guests. All guests in his village received a welcome gift, and the squash was all the Elder had to offer.
I like this story from Ram Dass (min. 104 in this video) because it demonstrates how we can, and should, hold on tightly to what we believe. Just as the village Elder was willing to put his life on the line for his beliefs, we too should be willing to fight for the things that we believe in. We were all put on this Earth to share our unique principles and perspectives. It's important for us to try and maintain our values, because these are the gifts that we share with the world.
But there comes a time when we need to let go. In the case of the village Elder, this moment came when he was finally vaccinated. Every time I hear that story, I imagine the response from the Elder will be anger, bitterness, and resentment. Instead, he responds with hospitality and kindness. Instead of hopelessly clinging to his beliefs, the Elder decided to let go lightly.
Every time I hear that story, I imagine the response from the Elder will be anger, bitterness, and resentment. Instead, he responds with hospitality and kindness.
Letting go lightly means letting go of the desire for life to be different than what it is. The Elder realized that he wasn’t wrong about the will of God. It just looked different than what he imagined. Instead of being angry and frustrated that things didn’t go his way, he let go. He let go of the way he thought the world should be and accepted the way it was. By letting go, he was actually able to stay true to his beliefs about the will of God. If he had continued to protest, he wouldn’t just be fighting against the doctors, but he would also be fighting with God. Instead of fighting, the Elder accepted his reality and brought himself and those around him peace.
Letting go lightly means letting go of the desire for life to be different than what it is.
When holding onto our beliefs causes suffering, we know that it is time to let go. Letting go does not mean that we abandon our values and beliefs. It means that our values and beliefs must be applied to a new reality. The world is always changing. This means that we can never get too comfortable. We must always adapt and evolve. Being open to the changing reality of the universe means that we are always growing. If we are able to apply our truth to the constantly changing reality we find ourselves in, we can find peace in any situation.
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