Let Yourself Go

Titian, Sacred and Profane Love

“All you have to do is let go of who you think you are. That’s it — plain and simple. Cast away all those useless dramas and become nothing, an eternal zero, an emptiness that is abundantly full and wisely alert.”
— Adyashanti

“In short, the consequence of the denaturalization of moral values was the creation of a degenerate type of man — “the good man,” “the happy man,” “the wise man.” —Socrates represents a moment of the profoundest perversity in the history of values.” —Nietzsche

Modern society likes to ostracize people for “letting themselves go”. What do we mean when we say someone is letting themselves go? Usually it correlates back to their usefulness in a social or productive sense. Over time, someone becomes less useful to a use-obsessed society and thus falls into obscurity. This happens to everyone eventually, usually in old age. When society values youth, vigor, growth, progress and movement towards an evasive goal at all costs, it neglects anyone who demonstrates a lack of productive fitness towards this common straw-man of a goal. Atrophy and decay are its greatest fears, despite remaining inevitable. This makes sense, as in modernity we have evolved towards viewing our elders with diminutive disdain rather than holy reverence. They remind us that what we’re chasing does not exist, that our beauty and fitness will fade, and that we will die no matter what. These facts of life are a materialistic culture’s greatest terrors. Conversely, they are a spiritual culture’s greatest truths.

But the person who lacks goals or ambitions, regardless of age, is seen as ‘lost’. More importantly, the person who has not been conned into contributing surplus value to the grand machinery of ‘humanity’ is seen as useless and is promptly discarded, unless they can be morally exploited for some other multi-dimensional cultural agenda. The cycle goes on and on. But if we’re so confident in ourselves and our results-addicted world, why would we be so scared of people who don’t care or who can’t contribute? What is it about people who let themselves go that rubs us the wrong way?

The answer is rather obvious— fear. We’re not as confident as we think; our modern lifestyle is defined in direct opposition to what has historically provided humans with solace and strength. People are terrified of the baseline foundation of life, and all attempts at social evolution have been direct assaults against the truths of our nature. We see this not just in a metaphysical sense but in a literal physical reaction— nature has revolted against man’s attempt to master it and will make conditions more toxic until man either adjusts or perishes. This is because nature is fully autonomous, if not anti-humanistic, which for us means: meaningless, purposeless, anti-productive, hierarchical, violent, unequal, and rife with suffering. Nature will always be fine; it’s us who will continue to suffer. Even Buddhism, a more forgiving religious tradition than Christianity, Judaism or Islam, begins with the premise that life is suffering. The tendency toward spiritual consciousness only comes from our desire to transcend the suffering of the world and the terror of everyday life. This is its precondition. We transcend this base and can view the greater truths of world with a sort-of God-consciousness or Buddhist ‘metta’ (loving-kindness) rather than feeling subordinate or submissive to the profane.

The purpose of spirituality is to submit to the higher rather than the lower. We submit to nature, mindfulness, meditative consciousness, etc, rather than indulgence, mindlessness, hedonism, etc. This is where we start. But in a misguided pursuit towards what Nietzsche calls ‘degenerate’, or the attempt to embody a label— good, wise, virtuous, happy, famous, successful, etc— we become spiritually lost. This is the same tendency we find in Buddhism and Hinduism when we attempt to transcend dualities and find multiplicities.

Most people today have ‘let themselves go’ in the spiritual sense precisely to the extent that they have become blindly and stubbornly useful in a materialistic or progressive sense. We are painfully dualistic. Think of how our entire digital world functions on a series of 1’s and 0’s, how every era we define ourselves in opposition to a new enemy, how people are either x or y. We’ve built an entire superstructure of dualities that exist in direct opposition to nature and spiritual nuance. Cities are bustling with people working towards countless point-a-to-b goals, individual and collective, none of which have solutions. These goals simply exist to occupy the mind, distract people and allow them to replace higher consciousness with lower consciousness until they die.

When ‘God died’, as Nietzsche said, the dollar took his place. The masses worship materialistic productivity as a narcotic in the same way that they used to submit to God. The difference is that when we submit to the higher, we live in balance and temperance. When we submit to the lower, we dive into suffering and spend our lives in delusion. This is the same principle as ‘shoot for the moon, land among the stars’. When we shoot for the sacred, we end up finding some greatness. When we shoot for the profane, we end up stuck in the mud. The purpose should not to be to become good, wise, or any other sort of spiritually degenerative label, but to become whole. We only find this wholeness when we let go of everything we think we’re supposed to be and can exist in pure consciousness for a certain amount of time each day. This is meditation.

The great challenge for modern people, moving ‘forward’, as they are so stubbornly obsessed with doing, will be swinging the pendulum back towards spiritual submission to the sacred rather than this horrific mass worship of the profane. The former is achieved through meditation, lovingkindness, temperance, virtue, discipline, honor and communication. The latter is achieved through indulgence, striving, competition, sexual obsession, and fear of death. The first step is being honest with ourselves and seeking not to embody a label, but to find ways to exist purely without needing to chase anything. We must let ourselves go.

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