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Is It a "Calling?"

Q: I've often wondered if one's passion and drive to release the self and to just become mind is a calling like some say they get from the Catholic God? As I've been practicing Ch'an meditation I'm becoming more and more aware of the self I need to release, and I'm wondering how you begin to let yourself go when all you've ever had in the world to depend on is yourself?  How does one clearly see the correct way in which to detach, to let go of the hurt inside and begin on the path of enlightenment?

A: If one has the desire to help release sentient beings including one's self from suffering, it is the result of one's past actions, thoughts and deeds.  If we want to call it a "calling" that's fine, but from the Buddhist perspective it is more of a continuation of one's previous vow to assist living beings to attain liberation.

It seems to me that you've already begun to let the ego-self go.  The trick is to just keep doing it and doing it and doing it, never stopping letting go.  This is because the roots of the delusion which creates the false sense of an ego-self are very deep.  Now that you've developed an awareness of the self, the thing to do is to let go of it and leave it alone, lest through your "desire" to let go of it you develop a subtle attachment to it.

Part of the illusion of the self is that all we have to depend on is ourself, and indeed we must take the first step to liberation on our own; but when this matter is looked at even more closely, we find that we are part of an interdependent, interconnected cosmos and are never truly "alone."  As my first teacher liked to say, "I live in the midst of the compassion of others."   Even if that compassion/connection is not clearly seen at first, it is indeed there.

And so, the way to learn non-attachment is to continue with your practice of Ch'an meditaion with great energy, sincerity and patience.

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