Let go only of your attachment, aversion and delusion;
never your generosity, loving-kindness and wisdom.
On one of those customary birthday cards passed around the workplace, I saw these words written – ‘fangxia zizai’ (放下,自在), which means ‘Let go to be at ease’. As I couldn’t make out the signature, I couldn’t ask about why it was written. Is it advice or a well-meaning wish based on some incident? I reflected about what I could have seemed ‘attached’ to at work, remembering years ago when a colleague remarked that I am ‘attached to the Buddhadharma’ (Buddha’s teachings). It was very bizarre because I work as a Dharma researcher, teacher and writer. Isn’t it important to meticulously distill the true Dharma to accurately deliver it to benefit others? If the Buddha himself was lax and not particular about what he taught, we would have contradicting and confusing Dharma today!
I wondered if I was attached to certain principles beyond work matters. Well, there is the occasional definitely casual email to urge colleagues to eat less animals, to give recommended animal-free products a try. There’s nothing to gain on my part, while I know animals would not want anyone to simply ‘let go and be at ease’ with the rest of the world eating them, to not speak up for their plight. The Buddha repeatedly spoke up for the welfare creatures great and small too. Such emails are easy to ignore anyway, and yes, many do just that. If our compassion is incomplete in embracing all for all time, how can we vow to help all for all time, to thereby become Buddhas?
So when do we really ‘let go’? After we have done our best in the moment to better the situation with our compassion and wisdom. If the Buddha let go of all after his enlightenment, he would have no compassion to share the Dharma. When should we ‘be at ease’? From moment to moment, just as the Buddha was ever at ease while sharing the Dharma. It is a huge misconception that being at ease comes only after letting go. Guanyin Bodhisattva is also called ‘Guanzizai’, which means, ‘the one who contemplates at ease’, while s/he is ever active in helping those in need without attachment. When ‘fangxia zizai’ becomes compassionless indifference, it is time to be ‘buzizai’ (not ‘at ease’) and ‘fangxia fangxia’ (let go of the wrong ‘letting go’)! – Shen Shi’an
It is a spiritual disease to sigh
at those deemed working ‘too’ hard to share the Dharma,
as it is to sigh at those deemed working ‘too’ little,
if what one does is only sigh, because it is not helpful to anyone at all.
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