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Why letting go works – and personal development doesn’t

Why letting go works – and personal development doesn’t

In case you’re thinking I’ve escaped from lockdown London, I took this photo four years ago at sunrise in Rishikesh, India – a beautiful city where the River Ganges spills out of the Himalayas. Meanwhile, back in the UK, I’ve often had the experience of the sun coming out – literally – when some spiritual truth dawns on me.

The contrast between ‘personal development’ and letting go is one of them. There’s a whole industry which is devoted to ‘personal development’, and yet its customers continue to suffer. Why?

The reason is that the person you’re trying to develop doesn’t exist! In case you’re new to this topic, allow me to take you through it step by step:

· If you practise silent meditation or yoga, you may have experienced pure consciousness: you're conscious, but there aren’t any thoughts. (Some people also experience this in a beautiful landscape. The thoughts stop, if only for a few seconds.)

· Pure consciousness enables us to observe our thoughts and the sensations in our bodies.

· If you (the subject) can observe something (the object), then it isn’t you. You aren’t ‘your’ thoughts or ‘your’ body. You’re the observer.

· If you start saying “I’m like this” or “I’m like that”, you obviously aren’t talking about pure consciousness. You’re talking about the conditioning which has built up in your body/mind over many years (some would say, over many lifetimes).

· ‘Personal development’ is an attempt to rearrange this conditioning in some way, to make it less painful – but it still hurts.

The solution is to let go of the conditioning and the pain patterns which make up your ego. Let go of the person and all your stories about that person. Then you’ll experience pure consciousness, which is bliss. You'll begin to discover who you really are.

John Purkiss is the author of The Power of Letting Go, published by Octopus Books.

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