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Letting Go a Little Bit at a Time

Guy Finley 12-17

A young man decided to visit a certain part of a distant country known for its community of uniquely gifted artists. In truth, he felt compelled to go. Over the last few years a growing sense of feeling strangely incomplete seemed to stalk him, in spite of his many achievements. He felt blocked in some mysterious way, making him feel more like a captive in his own life than the captain of it. And so…the unspoken hope behind his journey was to find someone, something, to help him release the great, but still latent forces he knew lived in his heart.

He longed to free himself from what he sensed was keeping him from being able to express his True Self… Soon after settling in at a small hostel for budget-minded travelers, he found himself out walking through an expansive outdoor bazaar where hundreds of local artisans displayed their works. However, despite the colorful character of the place and its highly animated people, he couldn’t hide the growing sense of disappointment descending on him. Nothing he saw moved him; everything seemed commonplace; just another dead-end. What now?

He kept on walking without even noticing that the hustle and bustle of the bazaar was now far behind him. And that’s when something happened that would forever change his life, although he couldn’t know it at the moment. He was so wrapped up in his own thoughts about all the wasted years spent searching for some silly “secret,” it’s a wonder he heard anything at all; but just then his ear caught the slightly ringing sound of someone tapping, rapping lightly on something from just on the other side of an old wooden fence.

He tried to look through it, but no luck. A moment later, after turning a corner in the fence that lined the cobbled street, he came upon an open gate; he peered inside, taking care not to be seen by whoever was working there.  He was surprised to see a rather small young woman seated there, in an open courtyard, surrounded by dozens of stones of all shapes and sizes. Her features were soft, and a faded red scarf was tied around her auburn hair. Set all around her – some on tables, with others freestanding behind her – were various stone sculptures of wild animals, mostly great birds. And though it was obvious these creations were still in various stages of completion, they already exuded a presence that almost pulled him out of his hiding spot and into the courtyard.

“What have I stumbled onto here?” he mused to himself, leaning in a little farther to see what else he could. Just then the young lady stood up, wiped her hands on her work apron, and walked toward one of the larger, darker stones that was perched on a work pedestal of some kind. She moved slowly around it, studying something, until she pulled a little hammer of some sort from out of her apron pocket. He leaned in still a little farther, not wanting to miss whatever was to happen next. After a further careful examination of one small area on the face of the dark stone set there before her, she rapped it – just once –with her small hammer. She used so little force, he felt sorry for her timidity.

Surely, he thought, she must be a novice of some kind; but his eyes couldn’t believe what happened next. As soon as her blow was delivered dozens of small pieces of the stone broke away, showering the ground with dark fragments. At first he thought she made a mistake and had cracked the whole stone; a moment later he knew otherwise. She had not ruined the stone; instead, somehow, she had released it secret character. With that one blow she brought into the light not only a beautiful white marble-like material, but had somehow managed to shape the newly revealed stone to resemble the graceful neck of a great swan.

He was stunned. What magic was this? His longing to know swept away any concern that he might be seen as an intruder, and he walked into the courtyard saying, “Hello!” “Hello to you!” she responded in a bright welcoming voice, seemingly unsurprised by his out-of-the-blue entrance. “Please forgive me,” he went on, “But I was just outside the gate when I couldn’t help see what just happened here. How in the world did you do that with a single blow from your tiny hammer?” He was pointing toward the sculpture of the emerging swan, but she already knew what he meant.

“Oh,” she said…laughing out loud. “I didn’t see you there, but I’m guessing you only watched me work for a few minutes before I struck that last blow, yes?”   “Yes,” he said, “that’s right,” nodding his head in agreement…“But still…that doesn’t really explain…” She interrupted him, “It does you see, but only once you understand that before you began watching me just now, I had delivered hundreds of similar small blows to the exact same spot on that stone. What you just witnessed was the result of many days of careful work coupled with a special kind of quiet consideration.” Sensing his disbelief at how she was able to strike such a deft blow with seemingly no effort on her part, she continued: “Yes, that’s right,” her eyes smiled at him, letting him know he was about to be told a great secret: “That’s how all great things are achieved…consistent attention coupled with persistent effort – a little bit at a time – until the right time comes when that work is rewarded…”  

She looked at him for a moment to see if he had understood. His quiet smile said yes, so she finished her thought: “Then nothing can stand in the way of what must be released. The practice of this knowledge, in whatever one intends to do, must produce a subsequent revelation that is the heart of liberation itself.” They shared one more smile between them in the kind of silence that only close friends enjoy. Then they shook hands, and said goodbye. With consistent attention and persistent effort you can release whatever now stands between you and the freedom for which your heart seeks.

You can let go. Never mind what’s happened in the past; forget whatever your mind tells you can’t be done. You don’t need strength, or even courage to drop those dark thoughts and feelings that have your heart and mind tied down; all you need to shatter any unwanted situation is the willingness to see what’s true and what’s not about you. The truth is, nothing in the Universe can stop you from breaking out of old patterns and starting life over, once you have the right interior tools and know how to use them. This book is filled with hundreds of powerful small “hammers” – special insights on exactly when and where to apply the liberating light of higher self-awareness – so that, a little at a time, you’re empowered to strike the gentle interior blows that release the truly free and fearless you.

Now, all that’s left to do – to start a whole new chapter of your life – is to turn the page and welcome the light that first reveals, and then releases you to realize your highest possibilities. Selected quotes from Letting Go a Little Bit at a Time •    When it comes to letting go and growing beyond who and what we have been up until that time, the deal is non-negotiable: first comes our gradual awakening to what no longer works for us, followed by the inner work to release the same. Then, and only then, dawns the discovery and realization of what is – in all cases – a new and higher order of our self; our life is transformed.

•    Think of letting go as learning to take part in the breath of life itself, something that is as natural to who you truly are as it is for the sun to shine.

•    Our greatest strength isn’t our ability to imagine brighter days ahead, it is that we are empowered – in every present moment – to effortlessly dismiss any dark thought or feeling that, left unattended, diminishes our happiness.

•    The relationship you long for – the life of real wisdom, grace, strength, courage, compassion, and love – already lives within you. All that remains is for you to choose to make this discovery.

•    The secret of letting go not only holds the keys for ending what is unwanted, but locked within this same supreme secret is the beginning of your new life – the birth of a new nature that never has to hold on to anything because it is already everything.

 •    Letting go is the natural release that always follows the realization that holding on hurts.

•    Somehow we have become separated from the real intelligence within us that knows better than to punish itself.

•    The illusion that others are better, stronger, or wiser than you are – with its painful self-doubt and insecurity – is born of the false perception that you are here on earth to be like someone else.

•    In spite of how things may appear to us, we are never trapped by where we are. The trap is always who we are.

•    Your true nature cannot be carried away. Whether your emotional seas blow furiously or present a picture-perfect horizon, you remain pleased because now your real pleasure is in your awareness that you are what is constant.

Introduction and Excerpts from Guy Finley’s New Book of Inspiring Quotations based on his international bestseller, The Secret of Letting Go (Letting Go a Little Bit at a Time, Llewellyn Publications, 2009)



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