Release and Confidence

Study any religious or spiritual path, and you're all but certain to find the idea of release. "Let go and let God" isn't just a truism of the Twelve-Step program, but an axiom of any method that seeks to bring into our lives an efficiency greater than can be brought through even the most supreme effort of individual will. Understanding the crucial role of "keeping the Sabbath" in this sense, of resting from effort and deferring to some greater efficiency has led many students of Field theory to ask how one lets go.

The question, usually asked generally, which is to say, theoretically, usually earns a theoretical answer—namely, that letting go is a choice, and that, therefore, "how" has nothing to do with it. Once it's pointed out that the student is holding on perfectly well without knowing how he or she is doing that, the question of how to let go is exposed for what it is—a diversion. We can ask how to let go for years to postpone simply letting go, and when the question remains baffling, this is invariably why we're asking it.

Less theoretically, letting go as a stance in the world—that is, as a way of life—is a skill, and skills improve with practice. What brings about the improvement is having the experience again and again that the great Unnameable to which we release any situation, problem, desire, etc., handles things so nicely on our behalf, often better than we'd imagined. In other words, with practice, we see that release works, and seeing this builds our confidence.

This is more important than it may first seem, because without confidence, release remains a gamble, a bet that's likely to be hedged. There's an old joke about three turtles who go into a soda shop. They amble up to the counter where they sit down, and each orders a milk shake. While they're waiting for the shakes, they look outside and notice that it's started to rain. One of them, they decide, has to go back home and get the umbrella. The turtles vote and the two older ones elect the third to make the trip and fetch the umbrella. The young one protests, "I'm not going to do it, because while I'm gone, the two of you will drink my malted." The elder turtles promise they won't do this, and the younger one finally relents and leaves. After waiting two hours for his return, one turtle turns to the other at the counter and says, "Well, he's obviously not coming back. We should go ahead and drink his milk shake." Just then, the young turtle pokes his head in the door and says, "If you do, I'm not going."

If you take this little story as a metaphor, and realize that the point is the umbrella and not the milk shake, then you can see the price we pay for refusing to release those states of consciousness that, while serving us in some way, also are holding us back from being served in some better way. Confidence is what infuses release with authority and allows it to become deep and even complete, and nothing less will do. Eventually confidence becomes so pervasive that one recognizes that simply desiring a thing is "unmanifest evidence" of its fulfillment—and it is precisely this confidence that gives release the power and authority to mobilize self-fulfilling forces.

Releasing our will about something, then nervously watching the clock, proves the release to have been anything but, and leaves us in the rain with no umbrella. With practice, however, our confidence burgeons, release becomes genuine, and the universe stands forth as the great Friend, on our side at every turn.

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