Buddhism in Plain Terms

Buddhism in Plain Terms | The True Meaning of Letting Go | 1 Aug 2020

< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享    

Time : Saturday 2pm-4.25pm
Platform : ZOOM Cloud Meeting
Topic of Discussion : The True Meaning of Letting Go


On 1 August 2020, Guan Yin Citta, Singapore held yet another online Buddhism in Plain Terms (BIPT) Group Study (in English) on the tenet of Letting Go.

Think about this: What does letting go mean to you? Do you think Bodhisattva would want you to stop eating, stop sleeping, stop showering?

The session enabled participants to debunk myths regarding this foundational practice of spiritual cultivation, and learn what it truly means to let go. Through stories and the sharing of personal testimony, Buddhist friends were all incredibly touched, learning that one should let go of gossip, negativity, the past, ego and grudges.

The engaging and informative study session articulated methods such as the substitution method, something already subconsciously practiced by many participants. By presenting this in words and providing a framework to letting go, participants are thus able to concretise their practice and consciously utilise this measure.

Although we are unable to meet physically in learning Buddhism, our minds unite over this platform, making use of an illusory virtual space for real cultivation. As Master Lu said, when you dedicate yourself to progress in Buddhism studies, what you get is an elevation of your spiritual state, a state that helps you let go of many worldly things.

Indeed, the many learned practitioners who attentively took part in the group study also took a step towards letting go of worldly pursuits, spending their time on spiritual pursuit together instead, and were therefore filled with contentment!


Let us now look at some comments from participants:

“Every part of the session felt meaningful to me — Master Lu’s videos, examples from various references, sharing by participants and also the revision part were all great. I think each segment links and flows very well. My 11-year-old daughter joined me and she especially enjoyed the short videos and the stories. She also paid extra attention because of the revision at the end, where she would actively participate in filling in the blanks!”


? Join us in our next session.
Please contact Loh SX (96978356) / Woan Yi SX (82182248) for more information

⏰ Date and time:
Saturday 15 August 2020
2-4 pm


Please click here to download the Summary Slides shared during the Group Study:

BHFF_Summary_Let Go_010820


Master Jun Hong Lu’s related discourses (cross references):


< The True Meaning of Letting Go >

Master Jun Hong Lu, “We have to see through the realityof things and learn to let go.”



< The True Meaning of “Letting Go”: Do not go further than necessary (i) >
wenda20150830B  38:19  

Caller: Buddhism teaches “To see through the reality of things and let go” (看破放下). What it means is that we should not have any concern for all the worldly things, we are supposed to let go and lead a life of asceticism (出家). But, how about us, lay practitioners? We still have a life to live, to earn a living and support our family. How can we practise “Seeing through and letting go?”(看破放下)

Master Jun Hong Lu: Please remember. Do not go any further than necessary (点到为止), be it work, thoughts or even your intake of food (as long as you do need to starve). When you go overboard, and you want everything in life, it means you have yet to practise letting go (放不下). Do you understand?


< The True Meaning of “Letting Go”: Do not be Attached (ii) >
Wenda20180722A   13:16  
How to balance worldly pursuits with detachment in Buddhism?

Caller: We live in a world where chasing one’s dream, aspiring to get into the best school and find a good job, earn more money, etc. are universal views. In fact, these desires help to propel us forward. Buddhism, on the other hand teaches us to let go (放下), not to go against the flow (不要攀缘), grasp (不执著), etc. Master Lu, please enlighten us, in this case, can we say that we are pursuing our dreams, or we are desperately striving to attain?

Master Jun Hong Lu: Questions like this show that you have got Buddhism mixed up with worldly affairs. Let me ask you, if we were to analyse a problem using the depth of the knowledge of an elementary school level and  the level of a professor, do you think we are able to achieve a clear understanding? What is the state-of-mind of a Bodhisattva? (菩萨的境界) Do you think Bodhisattva will advise you to stop working or eating for that matter? (No) 

Bodhisattva asks us to let go of the many affinities (放下万缘). In fact, we are advised not to be attached to anything (不要执著). Go ahead with your job, if you have one; if you don’t have one, don’t kick yourself for being jobless. It’s a kind of spiritual state you attain where your job is to feed you, making sure you have three meals on your table and make life possible. Do you understand?

Caller: I Understand.

Master Jun Hong Lu: You may aspire for worldly things, have thoughts to make it bigger in your career, etc. These are progress that you make in life and that’s alright. As long as they are kind, cause no harm to others and you are making such requests so that you are able to give more to sentient beings, I see no problem with that at all.

Caller: This means we have to do all good and avoid all evil?

Master Jun Hong Lu: That’s right.

< The True Meaning of “Letting Go”: To be Detached from the Heart (iii) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 1 Chapter 2 (An Excerpt)

The “Diamond Sutra”《金刚经》says,

“To cultivate all goodness without attachment to any perception” (修一切善,离一切相).    

To be detached from all perception means to go away from all the things you like. This detachment is not the kind of detachment on the outside, but rather from deep within your heart (内心放下). You may still care for the other person through your action, but you should be detached from him in your heart. (心里要放开他)

For example, you love your child a lot. Though so, from deep within your heart, you should learn to let go of him. When the child is old enough to find himself a job and lead an independent life, you still show care for him through the things you do for him, and the support you render him. However, in your heart you are prepared to let him go when it is time for him to leave. What’s important is that you are detached from him from the level of your heart and not on the material aspect of the relationship. This is very important.

< The True Meaning of “Letting Go”: Transform Love into the Loving-Kindness of the Buddha (iv) >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, USA 8 September 2016

Question: How can we truly apply the truth of “Letting Go” in our daily life? For e.g. we need to show filial respect (爱和孝敬父母) to our parents and take care of our children. So, how do we practise “Letting Go” under such circumstances?

Answer: This calls forth wisdom. For example:If you think that since you are now a Buddhist practitioner, you want to abandon your husband, mother, children, give up your responsibility to cook for the family and let go of everything – I can assure you that, you are in for trouble! This is not what “Letting Go” is about.

True “Letting go” is to let go from the heart(心里放下) which means we should not be too attached (不要太执著). It’s not about abandoning your entire household. If you do so, you might as well be a monk or a nun? Can you do that? Of course you can’t let go in this way. 

“Letting go” means you let go from the heart. You still need to take care of your family. However, you transform the worldly affection (人的感情) towards your family members into the loving-kindness of the Buddha (佛情).


< The True Meaning of “Letting Go”: Seeing through the Reality of Things (v) >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk 
Malacca, Malaysia – 19 August 2016 

Question: Our practice of Buddhism has made us easy-going and we are not interested to contend. However, some people feel that this is an attitude of a “Non-achiever. (不思进取)

Answer: It is a matter of one’s spiritual state (境界问题). For example, when you let go after learning Buddhism, in reality, this act of letting go is based on your ability to see through the reality of things (想通的放下).

However, there are others who let go because they cannot see through the reality of things (想不通的放下). These are two different concepts but are manifested through similar behaviour based on the difference in the person’s level of spirituality.


< Why Should I Let Go? >




< Why should I Let Go? Attachment can only do you Harm (ii) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Ep. 54 (An Excerpt)

Everyone has their own causes and conditions and they enjoy different kinds of karmic rewards in life. One thing for sure, whatever you cling on to will be the thing that will cause you harm (你执著什么,什么就会伤害你). If you cling on to your child, expecting him to excel in his studies; when he fails you, you get yourself hurt. When you hanker after money, insisting that you should earn more, you will end up not only without money but lots of unhappiness.

Whoever you cling to will hurt you for the reason there cannot be perfection in all things in life. In fact, “Everything is like a dream, illusion, bubble and shadow; it’s like the dew and a flash of lightning”. We need to let go of all our delusions.

When we desire things that we shouldn’t even think about, that is when you get yourself hurt. You should let go. However, by letting go, I don’t mean that you should “give up” (不是放弃).

Whatever you need to achieve in this world, you still need to pursue them. In fact, you need to do it with all your heart and make sure you do it well. (不但要去做,而且尽自己的心把它去做好)


< Why should I Let Go? Live in Ease (iii) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Ep. 33 (An Excerpt)

Think about it, just how many things have we given up since we were little? The minute we let go, we feel at ease (轻松了). Whenever we say, “I don’t want it anymore”, our heart just settles (心里安定了).  If we still think about those things, we will not be able to let go.

When we know when to let go, this wisdom will give us a more sober view (清醒) of life which allows us to understand our inner potential.Every time you let go, a kind of power is derived within you and you are able to respond to any external factors.

Let me quote you a simple example. Everyone is fighting for this position at your workplace while you say, “That’s alright, I’m not going to fight for it”. This abandoning of the need to contend, gives you strength.

Because of this, you won’t be sad, you won’t have fear, you will not feel that others will try to make your life difficult or be jealous of you.

When you let go and you accord with the conditions, you have no concerns at all. No matter what happens in your external environment, you will still be able to maintain a sense of peace. Your beaten body and mind finds joy and you become wise. This is what happens when a person eliminates his worries. Conversely, if a person drowns himself in trouble and fails to pull himself out of it, he will never be wise.



< What are the things that we should Let Go? >


< What are the things that we should Let Go? All the Boring old Gossips (i) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 3 Chapter 15 (An Excerpt)

Why do you have to hold on to so many troubles in your head? Enough is enough! Your whole life, you have been filling your head with them; every now and then, you even take them out to check on them – all those same boring old gossips! You keep every single dirty thing in your head –  things that have gone bad while you can’t even recall a single good thing that happened in your life!

If you store all the bad things and hatred in your head, do you think you can be a good person? Do you understand? In life , we truly have tosee through the reality of things and learn to let go.  (想得开、放得下)


< What are the things that we should Let Go? The Emotional Burdens (ii) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 2 Chapter 37 (An Excerpt)

There was an old lady whose son is very unfilial (不孝) to her. Whenever she thinks of this son, she would get very angry, sad and she would be filled with hatred. Due to all these negative emotions in her, she juggled with several chronic health issues. You need to know that anger is bad for health and your life!

One must, by all means, refrain from getting angry. Understand that it is all about karmic debts owed (一切都是欠的) and the law of cause and effect (因果).

When one is karmically indebted to her child, they have no choice but to repay the debts in this life unconditionally. You have to make repayment happily, untie yourself and to completely put down this burden that you have been carrying.

Therefore, we must extricate ourselves from all our worries, sorrows, hankering for wealth, contending nature, jealousy, non-equanimity, arrogance, etc. All these negative minds need to be eliminated and abolished.


< What are the things that we should Let Go?  — The Past, The Entanglements… (iii) >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Los Angeles, USA – 7 October 2018 (An Excerpt)

Letting go is when you stop reminiscing the past (过去的事情不再去怀念); disentangle yourself from the memory of those who have left you; stop blaming yourself for things you failed to accomplish and stop thinking about things you couldn’t attain.

When you Let Go you are not only being self-responsible (对自己负责), but you are also showing others respect (对别人的尊重). On top of that, it reflects on your ability to see through the reality of things.(看破)

Life is impermanent. It is not easy to have the right assessment of the things in this world. Treasure the things that have come to us and learn to let go of those that we have missed. Buddhist practitioners should embark on this brand-new journey of life with a smile.

You will be able to let go, when you stop your complaining. Why do people complain so much?

Simply because of Three reasons:

They “Can’t Let Go”,

Can’t See Through&

they Can’t Forget(放不下、看不透、忘不掉)


< What are the things that we should Let Go? The Ego (iv) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 4 Chapter 31 (An Excerpt)

We mustn’t take fame, fortune, status, or even our thinking too seriously. Simplify our life (要减淡自我), and by that it means we should regard ourselves as less and less important (把自己看得越来越轻). This, in fact, will promote the elevation in our spiritual state in Buddhism practice (这是对你自己学佛境界的提升).

It is NOT something that will make us lose our honour nor is it a sign of fall in one’s spiritual state. The more humble and polite a person gets, the more noble they are in the eyes of others. This is how they earn the respect of others.

Those who are dead determined to save face(死要面子), will be looked down upon. We need to take ourselves lightly and let go of our ego(放下自我). This is how you can live at ease (才能活得自在). Learn from the wheat: the fuller the fruit, the lower its head will be;

The Buddha says, “The past mind can’t be grasped, the present mind can’t be graspedand the future mind can’t be grasped”. In fact there is nothing we can seize. There is only emptiness. Hence, we need to lower ourselves and understand that, however strong we are, there is always someone stronger. When you turn your nose up on others, you are only looking down at yourself.(看不起别人就是看不起自己)


< What are the things that we should Let Go? The Ego (iv) >
Master Jun Hong Lu‘s Discourse (Question 398) 17 July 2020

Question:  Master Lu, you mentioned before that if we hate someone, we will bear the karmic obstacles of the person we hate, and the said party will take away a portion of our merits and virtues.  Can you enlighten us on this?

Answer:  When you hate a person, isn‘t there something bad about him that you are hating?  As you hold grudges in your heart, the karmic obstacles will enter your heart, and thus you will bear them. While you hate his shortcomings, his karmic obstacles and his wrongdoings, you will bring all these upon yourself.  Hence, the more you hate,  the more harm you are causing yourself.  

Many people lack wisdom, they just don’t get it. Here you are, hating such a person when he doesn’t even know it, while you keep all the hatred in your heart – grinding your teeth, feeling broken-hearted, losing your appetite and sleep. And, you end up having all his karmic obstacles transferred to you.  

Why should you care about such a bad person? Let go and throw it out of your mind! There are bound to be many who will hurt you throughout your life. If you take all of them to heart, how can you survive with such petty mind? Letting go is the only way!



< How to Let Go? >

< Ways to Let Go: Take Yourself Lightly (i) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 2 Chap. 13 (An Excerpt)

To be liberated is to let go (解脱就是放下). Those who are unable to liberate themselves are the ones who cannot let go. Liberation is easy to say. Just like a chain that binds you, you have to rely on your own strength to release yourself.

For example, in the Journey to the West (西游记), Sun Wukong (The Monkey King) was tied up by others (demons). In order to release himself, he shrunk himself and as a result, all the chains were loosened.

Let me explain a principle through this story. There is this chain that has gotten this person binded. However, there is a scope for the effects of this chain. For example, I want to make you angry and I know exactly ‘the thing’ that will provoke you. This “thing” shall be the chain! Now, if you shrink yourself, that is if you are able to take yourself lightly (make yourself smaller in this context) (把自己看得小一点) and you care nothing about this matter, you will be liberated from the binding of this chain.



< Ways to Let Go: The Substitution Method (ii) >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 55 (An Excerpt)



< What we should and shouldn’t let go? >

<  Story of King Milinda and a Monk >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s World Buddhist Fellowship Meeting
Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, 28 Aug 2017 (An Excerpt)

Once, King Milinda asked a clever Buddhist monk named Nagasena some questions. “Do monastics like you love your body?” Nagasena replied, “The body is a manifestation of four out of the five aggregates, monastics like me do not love it.”

Upon hearing this, the king immediately countered, “You say you do not love your body, but monastics still wear clothes, eat and sleep. Isn’t this protecting your body? Since you do not love your body, isn’t this contradictory?” 

Nagasena chuckled and replied, “Great King, if a pustule grew on your flesh, would you love it?”  

“A pustule is such a filthy thing, who would like that?” 

“If you do not like it, why would you still clean it and apply medicine to it, constantly preventing it from turning worse and checking to see if it has improved everyday? Since you do not like the pustule, isn’t this contradictory?”

King Milinda retorted, “I protect it only for my health.”

Nagasena smiles and said, “Indeed. Monastics do not love the body, but in order to borrow from illusion to cultivate reality  (借假修真), we must take care of our illusory flesh.”

< Make use of the Illusory World for Real Cultivation >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse – Guan Yin Hall, 9 October 2017 (An Excerpt)

Human being is the fundamental of the Buddhist’s doctrine of salvation. That’s precisely the reason why the Buddha has come to this human realm i.e. to accomplish this mission.

If there is no being, how can one attain the fruit of one’s cultivation to be a Buddha? 

That said, to be a Buddha, one must be in this human realm(要成佛的人,你必须要在人间)

Let me tell you something, it is rare to attain a human form (人身难得). Hence, you must cherish this body of yours.

With it, you should make use of this illusory body for real cultivation (借假修真).

If you fail to take charge of this opportunity to be a Buddha, it will be a great pity! This human form is a luxury for those who was born outside this realm.

I believe you have seen stories of a puppy lying on its stomach and worshipping the Buddha with its paws. You may have also seen stories of cows being dragged out to be slaughtered. When they passed by a temple, they refused to leave. Perhaps thinking, “Bodhisattva please! Save me! Don’t let them kill me please!” But one can’t do anything about it.

You may have also seen on the internet, a pig which was about to be slaughtered, it knelt and begged with tears rolling down its cheeks. Hence, if a person is born into an animal, there is no way they can gain liberation (没有办法来解脱).

Therefore, it is said, “to assume a human body is rare” (人身难得).


< What we should and shouldn’t let go: Worldly vs Spiritual Pursuits >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, QnA
New York, USA 13 October 2018

Question: However, you also mentioned that the more one gains in his career in this secular world, the lesser blessings he is going to receive in heaven. Master, how can we ensure that while we strive hard at work, we are not placing too much value to our achievements in the human realm? (过于看重自己在人间事业上取得的成就)

Answer: We need to learn to accord with conditions (随缘) when it comes to how much we can make out of our career as they are the blessings you receive from Bodhisattva. However, when it comes to your spiritual cultivation, you need to make unceasing effort to dedicate yourself to progress (精进努力).This is because, your success on this path is solely reliant on yourself by virtue of discipline, patience, and diligence.

As for the worldly things, we should just tell ourselves, “I have enough of everything”, do not be too greedy.

Our greed for worldly things are insatiable. When you get your hands on one thing, you only end up desiring for more. However, when you dedicate yourself to progress in Buddhism studies, what you get is an elevation of your spiritual state (境界的提高) – a state that helps let go of the many worldly things.

Our life should not revolve solely around work for the sake of survival and risking our life in the process. This is not right. We need to be happy, in the things we do. How so?

You should instil a work attitude whereby, you go, “I will do what I should do; Things that I shouldn’t do, I won’t do it”. Whatever I can manage, I will do it and I will try my best to help others”.

However, I have very strict expectations of myself when it comes to my spiritual achievement. I would never allow myself to slack (不能让自己懈怠). I am a Buddhist practitioner, a Bodhisattva. Hence, I should not be greedy in life; I know I must learn to be content. However, when it comes to my spiritual cultivation, I am always eager to pursue a higher level of spirituality. (精神上我要追求)

What do we pursue on a spiritual level (精神上追求什么)?

It is the elevation of our state-of-mind (境界的提高), which is liberated from the mundane world (脱离了凡尘的追求) – a far cry from the worldly desires. (不是一种欲望).

< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享