Question: How heavy is carrying a rock?
And the answer is…
- The longer you hold it, the heavier it gets.
- It’s not heavy if you stop carrying it around with you with you => It’s not heavy if you let it go.
This is an analogy for the burdens in our minds that we keep carrying around with us. The longer we hold it, the heavier it gets. But if we just let go of these burdens, then they are no longer heavy – and we are free of these burdens if we can just let them go.
Ajahn Chah explains…
The Analogy of Carrying a Heavy Rock
It’s as if we are carrying a heavy rock. After a while we begin to feel its weight but we don’t know how to let it go. So we endure this heavy burden all the time.
If someone tells us to throw it away, we say, ”If I throw it away, I won’t have anything left!” If told of all the benefits to be gained from throwing it away, we wouldn’t believe them but would keep thinking, ”If I throw it away, I will have nothing!” So we keep on carrying this heavy rock until we become so weak and exhausted that we can no longer endure, then we drop it.
Having dropped it, we suddenly experience the benefits of letting go. We immediately feel better and lighter and we know for ourselves how much of a burden carrying a rock can be.
Before we let go of the rock, we couldn’t possibly know the benefits of letting go. So if someone tells us to let go, an unenlightened man wouldn’t see the purpose of it. He would just blindly clutch at the rock and refuse to let go until it became so unbearably heavy that he just had to let go. Then he can feel for himself the lightness and relief and thus know for himself the benefits of letting go.
Later on we may start carrying burdens again, but now we know what the results will be, so we can now let go more easily. This understanding that it’s useless to carry burdens around and that letting go brings ease and lightness is an example of knowing ourselves.
Our pride, our sense of self that we depend on, is the same as that heavy rock. Like that rock, if we think about letting go of self-conceit, we are afraid that without it, there would be nothing left. But when we can finally let it go, we realize for ourselves the ease and comfort of not clinging.
From The Training of the Heart by Ajahn Chah