The Buddha’s teaching is straightforward: liberation is not clinging. That’s a radical and uncompromising statement. And to me, it’s very inspiring—OK, this is the work to do, and the first step is using the power of increased concentration, that comes from our consistent and constant practice, to begin to see the places of attachment, identification and fixation of mind. And through seeing, letting go—the end of clinging, freedom—comes.
Concentration is the fourth of the five spiritual faculties. The deepening of concentration and the quieting of the mind provides stability of attention and attentiveness necessary for deeper seeing of the nature of mind and body, of this life.
For most of us, the development of concentration—an undistracted quality of mind, takes time. Some people seem to have natural ability for, and can settle right into, concentration; but from my own experience, settling into a quiet and undistracted mind doesn’t necessarily come easily. When the mind is quite scattered or distracted, and we’re struggling to keep bringing it back, it is very difficult to develop the penetrating insight that comes from the undistracted mind. Nevertheless, if we sustain a constant and consistent practice, eventually the struggle lets go and coming back happens by itself. This is the first step toward penetrating insight. Indeed, it is one of our first insights—that letting go is not so much ours to do as it is establishing conditions for the sure heart’s release to happen, all by itself!