There is an experience I've heard of when people experience a complete loss, due to a fire. When they lose their home and all of their belongings, many people recover quickly, and many people never recover. There is a distinct difference in the way these "two sets of people" experience in their loss, before the fire and after the fire, the only difference between their similar experience is how they deal with the emotionality of the aftermath.
The balance of their life and existence become determined by a choice— how will they live their life after the fire? What remains is a choice of how to respond.
How will I live my life? How will I choose to experience this loss of everything I once was, in order to go on?
Burning the Boats (A Spiritual Practice)
A particular irreversible action can be a point of no return, but the point of no return can also be a calculated point during a continuous action.
To burn one's boats alludes to certain famous incidents where a commander, having landed in a hostile country, ordered his men to destroy their ships, so that they would have to conquer the country or be killed.
"Break the kettles and sink the boats" This is an ancient Chinese saying, which refers to Xiang Yu's order at the Battle of Julu (207 BC); by fording a river and destroying all means of re-crossing it, he committed his army to a struggle to the end with the Qin and eventually achieved victory. Wikipedia references to the Point of No Return.
Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached. The point of no return is the point beyond which one must continue on his or her current course of action because turning back is physically impossible.
So often, along my own personal journey I felt empty. I felt lost. I experienced a lot of fear, and this caused me great pain. I pondered the people who give it all up, relinquish all personal possessions, find themselves on some spiritual journey in a foreign land, and dedicated their daily life and energies to the search within themselves. What happens to "these people"?
Something inside of me was broken, broken open, broken to the point of not being able to put it back together again.
Now I understand how one finds themselves contemplating this existence, because at the core of life, there is death, no one escapes this end, and if we are not to escape death, and do not know when it comes for us, then how shall we spend our lives? The breath in your lungs, the blood in your veins, all this energy expended on doing and gathering and saving up for the end?
I simply realized that no matter what I thought and what I had proclaimed about myself, I had to let go of everything I once was in order to move on.
Everything I had always identified myself to be, the stories I told myself about my entire adult life, the person, the things, the qualities of my personality, my relationships to others, my relationship to myself, all died and ceased to exist, and now are completely transformed.
The pain and the grieving, and the clutching, clinging, and posturing to hold on to a particular self image was painful. But who was causing this pain? I was. And why?
I decided to let go.
It appears, that a fundamental problem of life is resistance to experience. Logically the solution to this problem is to become willing to experience what we experience, and that tiny little thing is so incredibly simple yet so difficult that most people are content to live in the world of non-experience, of drama, of shadow.
When we experience what we are experiencing, we line ourselves up with what actually is. We stop pretending that it isn’t. This is the source of much power in our lives. Masters are people who allow themselves and others to be the way they are. Accepting what is real is also the source of creativity. When we line ourselves up with what is true within ourselves, it seems to open us up to more truth. And what better thing could life be about than opening up ourselves to more power, clarity, truth, and love?
"You must let go, in order to go on."
A personal note from me: There is something about sitting in nature that is truly healing. In the beginning of my personal journey, I would go regularly to the beach near my house and sit on the ground, even in the cold of the Pacific Northwest winter, until I felt whole, secure, grounded, and at peace with the state of my life and my existence in the world. I wondered if I could go and sit for a year under a tree like Siddhārtha Gautama and grow a long beard and perhaps then I would be happy and find enlightenment. In my case I sat by a large body of water, melted into the sand, and didn't wear mascara for a year, my hair became long again, and happiness became real.