It’s often heard in Christian circles that one should, “Let go and let God” meaning that we should place everything in God’s hands and trust the Divine to take care of us. I think the best equivalent I’ve encountered in anything Islamic is the saying, “If it is written” or “If God has written it” … something to that effect, implying that the Divine is in control and that we should trust in what is written above. I’ve even heard many a Hindu believer advise something along these lines.
It’s always made me scratch my head. I suppose to many it’s comforting to believe that our Big Daddy / Big Momma has our back, but there seems also to be something weakening about that idea, if it’s carried far enough. For me, strictly in the context of this saying, the value it holds can be found primarily in the idea that there is more going on than we are able to see or understand. I don’t believe God wants me to lay my worries down at his so-called feet. I don’t believe God punishes my enemies or rewards me for being a good boy. Most of those things, which are often covered under the “let go and let God” phrase are actually governed by the deep workings of karma.
Still, there’s value in being able to “let go.” Whether God enters the picture or not, we need to be able to let go. Shri Eckhart Tolle mentions in a number of his books that our mind likes to recycle stories because the ego feeds off the energy carried by those stories. First-hand experience has shown me how absolutely true this actually is. Often these stories are negative, but happy stories apply here as well.
Hinduism holds the notion of Samskaras. One meaning of this term is passage or rite. These are ceremonies that are milestones in one’s human life. Another definition of the word Samskara is “impression” or “under the impulse of previous impressions,” and The Dictionary of Common Sanskrit Spiritual Words says, “Whenever an action is performed with the desire for a specific result (whether for oneself or another), sanskara is created for that person. These accumulate and determine the situations with which we will be presented in the future and will influence the scope of future actions.”
As you can see, Samskaras play a huge role in our karmas – or lack thereof. Something happens, it makes an impression on us, and then additional things that happen are flavored by the existing impressions as are our responses to those additional happenings. We end up with really strong, deeply-engrained, cycles of energy that can be quite challenging to gain mastery over.
Hinduism offers just about as many ways for gaining this mastery as there are Hindu believers. Whether one is effective or “right” depends almost entirely on the individual and – big surprise – their Samskaras. For some of us, mantra yoga removes the impressions we carry. For others of us, karma yoga is the route. Many find liberation through experiential Jnana Yoga, while others seek freedom by performing decade-long headstands. In the Sahaj Marg, a Raja Yoga path, we have a practice known as Cleaning, which supplements our primary meditation practice.
Cleaning is something I struggled to accept when I first encountered this path, but it has since grown on me as a productive and beneficial part of my daily sadhana. Without going too deep into it, it’s something that an abhyasi does only after their “work” for the day is complete. Beyond that, it can be done any time one prefers or needs. (The guidelines that govern our primary meditation practice are considerably more stringent.) The photo included in this post, while not an actual Sahaj Marg image, is actually a great illustration of our practice of cleaning.
So what does this have to do with that jibber-jabber “let go and let God”? I suppose the point I hoped to make is that one’s path should be empowering. In Hinduism, the Law of Karma actually affords all the power and control to the individual. Your destiny is what YOU make it, not the result of God cradling you. Here’s another thing all Hindus must consider: God is you. You are literally a spark or sliver of the Divine. So when you “let go and let God” you must realize you’re essentially allowing yourself the power and strength to get rid of that which brings or perpetuates your misery.
My experience has definitely shown me that I am the cause of my own misery and, as a spark of the Divine, I am also imbued with the power and strength to be the end of that same misery. Whatever your chosen path is, I hope you’re increasingly capable of letting go and letting God within you be the One you look to for peace.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha