The fear gripped me; I could barely breathe. As I looked up at my white-knuckled hand frantically grasping the fraying root, I searched with hawk-like intensity the cliff wall for another handhold. A part of me knew that at any minute the root would snap, and I would plummet into the black yawning abyss below. Tears streamed down my face as I sobbed and gasped for air through my constricted throat. My chest felt as if 200 pounds were pressing down on it. Any moment the end would come.
With my free hand I probed the cliff wall, desperately seeking any possible other handhold. There had to be something else I could grab to feel safe, but I was unable to find anything in the crumbling burnt-red cliff wall.
Below my feet dangled in the vast airiness of the chasm. I could feel the void calling me, pulling me down. The voice in my head seemed to be coming from the black abyss below, “Just let go. It will be alright.” How often over the past 14 years had I heard that voice, and how often had my ego-personality responded in terror and resistance? I believed that letting go would mean death—dissolution, like a snail in salted water…dissolved away into nothingness…to fall forever in the darkness and emptiness…to become the emptiness…to be nothing. I fought even harder and clawed at the cliff. Anything is better than nothingness, even terror.
Why was this voice so sure that letting go would be alright? My ego-mind was completely baffled. Surely I would die. With every slip of my hand on the root, I was more sure of that fate. The fear-ball in the pit of my stomach validated that outcome. And yet the voice persisted. All these years the situation has been the same. I find myself clinging to a crumbling reality, believing that death is eminent. And the voice has always been there telling me that everything is alright and to just let go. Insane. How could falling be “alright?” How could “death” be “alright!?” Yet something, some small quiet place inside me knew that the voice spoke truth. My grip relaxed, and I slipped just a bit. Panic; my grip tightened.
Why do we struggle against letting go? Why is letting go into the effortlessness of falling so terrifying to us that we stay clinging to the most devastating situations that hurt and disrespect who we are? We think we are “safe.” But we are trapped on the cliff wall, forever clinging to the imagined safety of our cliff-reality. The ego-personality seems be obsessed with clinging to something, anything outside itself for validation, safety and “love.” Yet, never is true fulfillment achieved from that endless struggle. The sages say that fulfillment and true liberation come from within, from that black void inside us that seems so empty. How can that be? How can fulfillment come from emptiness? My ego-mind reels from the paradox and clings more feverishly to the cliff. I slip a little further.
In the end, I’ll fall; I know that without doubt. And I also know at my deepest awareness—that small quiet place inside me—that falling will be a relief…a letting go of effort and struggle and pain. How long can I hold on? How long will I hold on? How long will my ego-personality continue to struggle and toil away searching and grasping for safety and love on the crumbling cliff wall of my reality? Salvation only exists in the letting go and trusting that the void will set me free. It’s up to me when I choose to let go and fall into Love.
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