It's obvious that only after young adults leave home do they find their own potential and blossom in their own way. The bittersweet acknowledgement of this reflects a mature relationship with parent and child. This is a cutting of the umbilical chord with our children, offering them a chance of individual development, and freedom to explore their new world on their terms.


Are there other umbilical chords that can be cut that offer freedom for ourselves? Umbilical chords have an important function to perform; life itself, but as soon as the chord is no longer necessary, it becomes an impediment to freedom that requires a cutting away.


What umbilical chord are we still attached to, that which is holding us back from freedom? What do we desperately hang onto even though its function has long been rendered obsolete?


If we look at life openly, we can see that our lives consist of one major activity - escaping from our discomfort and discontent. Take a good look at your activities and see if this is not true. If we look at all the things we do in a day, we can see that this is indeed true. We work hard to buy the things that will make our lives more comfortable and secure, all kinds of entertainment items - computers, stereos, TVs, sports cars, concert and movie tickets - all to keep us entertained and shielded from the discontent that creeps in whenever we have nothing to do.


Over time, the sports cars lose their appeal - if we are intelligent at all we eventually wake up to the fact that they are just a machine made by man with some fancy sheet metal enclosing it with many little wheels and circuits moving around.

The media, as well, with all its promised fun and diversion begins to fall flat - been there done that. As a matter of fact, the older we get, the more juvenile it all seems. And so we slowly cut the chords, switch it all off, and sit on our porch rocking and remembering the good old days.

Deeper attachments:

As we age, it becomes obvious that the person looking at us from behind the mirror must be some kind of an alien. The ravages of old age, however, are a blessing. Who could become attached to that! It would be much more difficult if we aged backward and died just as the body was becoming beautiful! But somehow we still seem attached to the old carcass and would rather put up with the invisibility (when we walk down the street, nobody looks at an old person), and the creaks and pains, than face the alternative. Our God is waiting for us in heaven (but not yet please).

But forget about the body and how wrinkled and spotted it is, because the mind is as young as ever and will never age. It can be ten years old and incredibly spontaneous, forty years old and ambitious, or ninety years old and wise - it's always our choice. And we love our bodies and minds regardless of if they are old or young, smart or stupid.

The wall:

The thought that we will end someday enters our minds at some point, usually not until all the umbilical chords of our diversions in life have been cut. All that we have been and all that we have accomplished will be just a fond memory of a generation or two before we are forgotten for eternity. We look to the heavens and see that even the fate of the great stars are no different from ours - being born, maturing, and disintegrating. This doesn't help. Then we look to our imaginations to save us, our religions and our beliefs, and take comfort that we will somehow become young again, somewhere, and be able to enjoy it all over again.


Enjoy what all over again? Memory is a trickster; it seems to conveniently pick and choose what to remember. Everything in the past is cast in the golden hue of a Norman Rockwell painting as if we never had a trouble in the world, and we can't wait to do it all over again. Childhood, going to school, studying, finding a job, raising kids, holding our partner's hand when she died - good stuff. If this is true, why do we have so many problems right now, cause here we are? Why can't we rationalize them now as if we were looking back on them in time? It's because we are attached to some kind of an outcome.

Letting go:

When we look back, we can't really change things. We have to accept the way they were, and the way they were was alright. If it was a disaster, we learned from it, and if it was pleasant we didn't learn much but enjoyed it. When looking back in hindsight, we can easily let go of things. So why can't we let go now? Why do we strive so hard to make it happen our way? Why can't we relax into life? Why are we so attached to results, Why can't we cut the umbilical chord?

The trick:

There is a trick to letting go. Many don't know about it. The trick is not to worry about what we let go of, but discovering who or what it is that hangs on! It can't be the body, which is disintegrating before our eyes. It can't be the mind that changes from moment to moment like a chameleon. What exactly are we? Could we be something other than this body and mind? Could we be something that is truly indestructible, peaceful, non-fearing content and at ease with the universe? So what is it that hangs on to everything and won't let go? It must be some kind of illusion, because we have eliminated all the rest - our bodies and minds.

Look deeper:

As life incessantly moves toward its closure, why wouldn't we be inquisitive about what life is really all about? Is it really just a brief repose in the material world before we go on to the REAL thing for eternity? What's the purpose? To gain some kind of wisdom? What kind of wisdom do babies who die gain? Isn't it time to look at life from a mature perspective instead of from a perspective of Disney? How much time is left? Why don't we achieve our real potential as a human being and gain some actual understanding.

Put it all aside for a moment; eyes, ears, body, nose, tongue, mind, and just be, in the silence. No thoughts, no memories, no plans, no beliefs. Just you and silence. Have you tried it? How long can you do it before running to some kind of diversion from the silence? Better get used to it, eternity is a long time, and there is no ironclad guarantee that you will be taking the body and mind along. Maybe it will be an eternity of silence. Is that a scary thought? If it is, you have more umbilical chords to cut.

But what if cutting the umbilical chords to all that you know, all that you are familiar with, somehow opened a door into another reality not connected to the body, the mind, aging or death?

The Buddha promised that this is true. And he never lied. It's called deep meditation, or jhana, and transcendent wisdom, or panna.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at: and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:

His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.