The year is nearing its halfway point and my private contemplation on “Letting Go” continues. There have been a few moments of understanding but so far I feel as entrenched today as I was several months ago. Although it has been a running theme in my mind and lifestyle for the year, it was not until very recently that I remembered this story from the Buddha and related it to this current of practice. This may have been the first story I heard while coming up in the — umm, “alternative spirituality” scene. (I just made that term up, define it as you please.)
Once, there was wealthy merchant who supported his entire family. He was very generous and was the benefactor of a number of charitable organizations. In fact, the entire village relied on the merchant’s business as its primary source of livelihood. Everyone loved the merchant. He lived a life of generosity, hospitality and mercy.
Many years passed and the merchant started getting old. The merchant realized he was very tired. The merchant kept giving, and giving, and giving, and he wasn’t getting anything in return. The merchant felt depleted. He felt that people only loved him because of what he gave them, and so many people were dependent on him. He became stressed-out, developed a form of depression and was disappointed with life. He didn’t know where to turn to. He began searching for a doctor, for a healer, for anyone who could assist him. The merchant couldn’t find anyone.
One day, the merchant’s wanderings took him to a remote village. The merchant learned that a holy man called “the Buddha” was in the village. Someone suggested that the Buddha could assist him. The merchant sought out the Budda. Many hundreds of people had come to receive the Buddha’s Darshan. Darshan is a face-to-face personal audience with a Spiritual Master.
The Buddha noticed the merchant as he approached in the Darshan line. The merchant was so completely broken in Spirit, that the heart of the Buddha was broken in two. As the merchant stepped forward, the Buddha yelled “Drop it!” in a loud yet compassionate voice. The merchant didn’t know what to do. He adjusted his posture and his clothes. The Buddha continued to gaze at him intensely. “Drop it!” commanded the Budda again. The merchant still didn’t know what to do. The merchant began getting more and more tense. He felt tension build up in his entire body. The merchant’s fists began to clinch tighter, and tighter, and tighter, and his arms began to straighten. The Buddha commanded, “Drop it!” And suddenly, all at once, the merchant’s fists opened, and all his stress, his disappointment, and his sorrow fell to the ground. Lord Buddha then looked directly into the merchant’s eyes and gave him Darshanat. Darshanat is a handing down of teachings through the gaze and one of the ways that Spiritual Masters give teachings in Silence to their students. Finally, the merchant was freed from his malady.
May you let go and be free today.