Recently I came across a very helpful story about letting go of the baggage we drag around in our hearts and minds. The story came from the book Tao in Ten: Easy Lessons for Spiritual Growth by Annellen Simpkins and Alexander Simpkins. A friend shared this book with me, and I am always interested in expanding my knowledge of Eastern philosophies such as Taoism. This particular story is attributed to Chuang-tzu, the second major figure in Taoist philosophy who lived from 369-286 B.C. ( I find it fascinating that the issues we deal with today were part of the human experience thousands of years ago.). One day a student knocked on Chuang-tzu’s door. The student had head of Chuang-tzu’s great wisdom from other teachers and had traveled a great distance to learn.
Chuang-tzu answered the door and the student said, “I am an ardent student of philosophy, and I have heard you are very knowledgeable. Will you take me on as your student?” Chuang-tzu answered, “Only if you tell all the people you brought with you to leave.” The student turned around to see who had followed him to Chuang-tzu’s house but was surprised to see no one else around. At first the student was mystified, but then he understood what Chuang-tzu was telling him. Before he could learn, he had to let go of the outer concerns he carried in his mind to allow his inner nature to be nourished.
This struck me as a very wise observation. We all have lots of “people” we bring with us to the present moment. I often refer to these people as “the committee.” This is the collection of voices, judgments, and opinions from others that we choose to believe. They come from our upbringing, our culture, and our community. The interesting thing is they may not be true, but if we accept them as true and act as if they are true, they might as well be true. The good news is that we don’t have to carry them along with us forever. We can take a look at them and decide if we want to keep them or release them. This does not have to be a difficult or painful process – it can be as easy as blessing these old ways of thinking and realizing they no longer serve us. Of course they will try to come back, but we can gently but firmly bid them farewell and embrace new thoughts that take us in the direction we want to go. It really can be that simple. Are you ready to tell your outdated beliefs about yourself that they must leave?