By Gary Z McGee
“Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt” –Immanuel Kant
Here’s the thing: enlightenment is an illusion, but the path toward enlightenment is exceptionally real. It seems like a contradiction, but it’s not. The essence of the sublime is letting go of our attachment to the goal and allowing the journey to be the thing. There are roadblocks and tripwires and briar patches galore, but even they are an essential aspect of the journey. In fact, the most fulfilling moments in the journey are when we gain the capacity to transform roadblocks into stepping stones, tripwires into jump ropes, and briar patches into crowns of thorn. Here are seven hang-ups in particular to let go of in order to attain a state of sublime impeccability.
1. Let go of Fear
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” –Plato
The ability to recognize fear is an essential aspect of our survival, but when the ego becomes attached to fear it can become an obstruction to survival. Fear becomes our puppeteer, and we become its floundering puppets. This type of fear is almost always preconditioned. Letting go of it is tantamount to letting go of our first layer of skin, a difficult task indeed. Gain the courage of the Snake, who regularly sheds its skin. Make it a part of your meditation practice. Like the Kundalini snake rising up through the 7 chakras, you too can gain this essential power. In fact, it would behoove you to imagine each of these steps as a snake shedding its skin. This way the “letting go” is a sacred process, a beautiful unfolding, an honoring of the previous skin and what it taught us, and a celebration of the new skin and the new adventures to be had. But first, let go of fear. Alchemically transform it into courage. Re-baptize yourself into a Courage of the First Order.
2. Let go of Guilt
“The religious perception of reality is about guilt, sin and blame, and that’s the trap. That’s the chains that hold every citizen. The spiritual perception of reality is about responsibility. We’re all responsible. We’re not guilty, we’re responsible. And it’s trying to make our way through these two perceptions of reality that seems to be the biggest problem we’re confronted with as human beings on the planet right now.” –John Trudell
Letting go of guilt is as simple as forgiving ourselves. The problem is: forgiving ourselves is exceptionally difficult. Cultural and familial pressures abound. Grief too is almost always preconditioned. Letting go of guilt is allowing ourselves the power to recondition the precondition. Transform the blueprint. Rework the woodwork. Let it all come tumbling down, forgive yourself, and then build it all back up, your way. The art of the sublime can never be discovered their way, or my way, it can only be discovered your way. Boundaries are illusions, especially those dictated by culture. Stretch your boundaries the way Neo bends spoons in The Matrix, by realizing, “There is no spoon (boundary).” Like Rumi said, “Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?”
3. Let go of Shame
“There can be no transformation in the world outside unless there is transformation from within. It is our responsibility to bring about a radical transformation within ourselves.” –Krishnamurti
Let go of humiliation. Embrace your insecurities and doubts. Let go of letdowns and disappointments. Use them as steppingstones. Dance them into something worth tripping over. Dance with the fire. If it burns you, then rise up like a phoenix. Life is too short to live it second-guessing your authenticity. You’re flawed. You’re imperfect. You will fail. So what? There’s no avoiding it. The question is, how well will you fail. How much will you learn from your failure? Sublime impeccability requires making a sacred dance out of “rolling with the punches.” Take each punch like a fistful of truth. Use it to become the best version of yourself possible, and then lead by example. Meditate on the navel chakra.
4. Let go of Grief
“The mystical is not how the world is, but that it is.” –Ludwig Wittgenstein
Let go of heartache. Release all sadness and loss. Let the pain flow away. Love has a pain center. Letting go of grief is letting go of our ego’s attachment to love which is embracing the pain center. Learning how to love is learning how to let go of the ego’s attachment to love. This is the secret of attaining happiness in a cruel world. There is sublimity in such seemingly contradictory practices. The love-pain dynamic is a sacred dance of catch-and-release. When your heart breaks; relish in the break. Allow it to settle into a million little pieces. Be with it there in sacred silence, in divine awareness. Then let it go. Breathe new life into the shattered pieces of your heart and then begin the slow process of mending it back together again. The sacred wound left behind will be your greatest teacher.
5. Let go of Lies
The mental suffering you create is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. The intensity of the suffering depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment.” –Eckhart Tolle
Let go of untruths and falsehoods. Let go of propaganda. Let go of self-deception. Honesty is paramount, self-honesty is indispensable. It is essential that you be impeccable with your word. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Clearly communicate your intent. Make your outspoken truth to power uplifting and wise, but don’t be afraid to practice a little trickster-goddery from time to time. Remember that words are tools we use to raise and lower the vibration of things. Be responsible with your power. Embrace your own cognitive dissonance, learn from it. Practice counter-weltanschauung-dynamics. Everybody knows something you don’t. Try your best to learn from them. We are all teachers, just as we are all students. Life is what we teach, and life is what we learn. This is the essence of sublime impeccability.
6. Let go of Illusion
“From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.” –James Joyce Let go of all false destinies. Recognize your ego’s attempt to separate things. The illusion of separation is the greatest illusion of all. But, and here’s the rub, the illusion of separation is what makes everything beautiful and meaningful. Open your third eye and see the interconnectedness of all things, but appreciate the beauty in the differentiated unity. Like Alan Watts said, “Nature is always differentiated unity, not unified differences.” It is essential that you understand this, and move past the illusion, in order to actualize the Self in accordance with greater cosmic frequencies. See yourself as a spiritually interconnected being. Sharpen your intuition like a blacksmith sharpens a sword. Hone your sense of identity, but always self-interrogate it. The ability to self-reflect is essential for impeccability. Don’t be afraid to be powerful. Just be responsible with your power. Like Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
7. Let go of Earthly Attachment
“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.” –Alan Watts
Let go of definitions. Let go of hunger. Let go of happiness. Let go of love. Let go of letting go. The art of letting go is realizing that everything is everything and even letting go is itself an illusion. Remember: you are not letting go of love itself, only your ego’s attachment to love. Love is always there, and always will be. You are not letting go of happiness itself, you are letting go of your ego’s attachment to happiness. Happiness is always there, and always will be. The same goes for all things. You are not letting go of your goal to attain enlightenment, you’re letting go of your ego’s attachment to enlightenment by killing any and all Buddhas you may discover along the path. The path is paramount. The path is an illusion. The journey is the thing, and is probably also an illusion. So what! Roll with it. Have fun with it. Have a good sense of humor about it. Let go of definitions, but don’t forget to have fun with them either. Boundaries are made to be stretched, but they are also made to have fun with. Play is an essential practice of sublime impeccability. Sublime play is sacred play. Work hard at being sublime and impeccable, but always remember to play harder.