March 4, 2013

Letting Go

by Bobby Williams (author's profile)


Letting Go

I came across a passage in the "Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai" that states; "Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when on'e body and mind are at peace, one should meditate on being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears, and swords, being carries away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's master. And every day without fail, one should consider himself as dead." At first I though, "Wow, how depressing!" and tried to forget what I had just read. Yet, to my bewilderment, this was a passage that would not leave me, it became like one of those nagging songs that somehow just gets itself stuck in one's head. So, since it seemed bound to persist in my head, I determined to indulge it and do what the boook said. I meditated on it to see where it would take me.

Being incarcerated, and on death row, constantly watched over byy a guy with a gun, surrounded by signs that say "No warning shots" in big bright red letters, this idea of thinking about death wasn't very hard at all but it was the last part of the quote that really impacted me, the part that says "and every day without fail, one should consider himself as dead" really hit me hardest.

In Japan's medieval warring times, meditating on death served to prepare a samurai to die a painful, violent, yet horrible death, and to fight fearlessly always facing the enemy. Though to consider myself already dead seemed alien and strange to me, after all this isn't medieval, feudal, warring Japan, and what about life, love, compassion and happiness - all the good stuff in life?

Due to sometimes slow mature of mind, and after about two wekks, it all hit me like a sword strike to the throat! We are all going to die, that is a simple fact of physical existence. As for me, I'm already on Death Row which puts death, my death, right there in my face. Why not just accept it, live life like a dead man, simply let go of life? I did just that. It didn't mean grabbing a sheet and hanging myself, shutting off my feelings and becoming some soul-less, emotionless zombie or anything drastic, no, living as a dead man, realizing that I die a thousand times a day, did something most amazing to me. My mind became clea and focused, colors got brighter, sound more beautiful, and melodious, smells amazing. I was suddenly freed from prison, transported to this awesome world I didn't even realize existed where the constant noise of restless convicts became the exquisite music of nature, once dull, drab, muted colors became airy, bright splashes of artistic expression. It was like I had just been reborn to the world, or the world reborn to me. In death I found life, peace, happiness, and contentment. A great burden was lifted from my shoulders and every single moment became new and exiting, so much worth living for --- worth dying for. The next moment of existence no longer mattered, all that did matter was this one precious everlasting nano-second in time, living each and every heartbeat for all that it was worth, like it would be the last --- because it was/is the last.

I had spent 15 years exploring the world's great religious and spiritual traditions, and in giving up life, in living as a dead man, it all came together in this oddly strange, profound, contradictory.... something, where I yearned for the serene release that death brings, even though I am already dead.... yet so alive.... I yearned now for life with a newfound love and passion for just living as a simple spiritual entity in this vast, wonderful and magical universe, surrounded by peace and in perfect harmony with it ALL.... as a dead man.

I guess that the message, the lesson that I learned, was taught, and am trying to pass along to those of us who are locked away, to those who are imprisoned by mind's restraints, and surrounded by the chaos that incarceration fosters and breeds, is to simply let go, embrace each and every dying moment, and in that death, find newborn vibrant life. If you can find that behind violent walls, then anywhere you turn in this life and the next it can be found. You will die an honorable death a thousand times a day, mindful of all things, smiling at everybody, at everything, even smiling at death.

Bob R. Williams Jr.
November 17th 2011

[below is a stamp with the initials BW and a Japanese? translation. To the right is a watercolor of a green landscape and blue sky.]


Replies (17) Replies feed

Rita Posted 10 years, 4 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 4 months ago   Favorite
hello Bob,

I read your writing and I understood what you were trying to explain.
I could tell you are in peace with yourself and the given situation.
Well, i'm writing myself with some American inmates by now.

I've lived seven yrs in America: 3 in Utah and 4 in Ohio. Later on also almost 6 in Argentina, Buenos Aires.

I'm a musician and an artist. I did study some philiophy as well.

I'm a belgian, a woman of 65 years, but young in spirit nevertheless.
I came to this blog, because I got it from my friend George, an inmate who also was in jails for many years! he was at 18 ans he still is at almost 64 yrs of age. He could be finally released by September??

I will write more later on.

Have a fine day, Bob.

greetings from Rita

Rita Posted 10 years, 4 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 4 months ago   Favorite
I can tell they are going to give the emails to your blog today. So, i will write some more here, while i still can. ;-)))

I imagine you reading it today and i wish some more people will read your particular message, Bob.
It is good for you and me to be in contact with one another. I also will write you a personal letter.I'll try it as soon as possible.

How are your spirits today, Bob? I hope you feel alright. I'm a busy woman, but I always find time for my friends. -smile-

Some more about myself. I am divorced and my ex and me still are good friends. He lives in Argentina, where we used to live almost 6yrs together.
I came back to Belgium to know and hug my grandkids. Adric is 4 and Claire is 2; she was born in San Diego, CA.

Well Bob, the family lives in California right now. Leslie (32), our youngest daughter was born in Utah. She is a translater Russian/ English/ Flemish(= Dutch).

And right now she teaches Flemish to American adults,(2 groups) who have relatives in Holland and Belgium. See?
She obtained a diploma to be able to teach. She loves it! Plus as an American herself, she can work there!

Do you have some family and do they write or even visit you at times, Bob? I wondered?

Our eldest daughter, Elke (34)is a dr in Biology. She lived for a few yrs with her friend in Barcelona. Now they're back and bought a house near our airport, Zaventem. That's in our capital, Brussels.

I certainly hope to hear from you, Bob!

in friendship, Rita

Take care of yourself.

Rita Posted 10 years, 4 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Here i am back.

Before writing you a letter, I will read what you wrote on your blog. I can tell you are a spiritual being, Bob.

Letting go, yes... it must be wonderful to experience it. We force too many things, but all has it's natural flow. And by searching and studying it, you've discovered it more in it's grand essence.
It would be very nice to be able to discuss it, eh? :-)

So you are a student and draw. Paint. I do find it a very beautiful watercolor.
I don't know if you can give an answer on the blog? I guess you can.
Also seeing some more of your paintings would be nice!:-)))
I can tell you i am myself an artist. I took 7 yrs in an Academy of Arts. Drawing and painting oils. We Flemish were oil painters. Van Eyck, Van Dyck, Rubens,etc...
Later on, living in Ohio, an American teacher taught me watercolor. He's 90 now and still teaches art to 2 groups of adults!
I painted with gouache, and colored inkt as
In Buenos Aires and now in Belgium I did exhibitions. 21 paintings are hanging right now in a clinic nearby.

Bob, I hope we can talk in some way from our mutual lifes?
Have a nice day!

Here's a saying for you: 'Love in action is the force that helped us make it to this place, and it's the truth that will set us free'. -Susan Taylor-

friendly greetings from Rita

Rita Posted 10 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
I reread your letter today, Bob. It said to me what I could understand from my point of view. You explained it well! :-)Thanks for doing it!

Well i consider that each night, when we sleep, we die in a sense. And each morning we arrise and can start a whole new beginning, fresh.

Each day to me is a new beginning and each day brings new insights and in the evening we feel a little richer, because we've learned things. We have new knowledges. Our thoughts are important, we are responsable for them.

'What we are today comes forward from our thoughts from yesterday, and what we think of today determinates our life of tomorrow: Our life is a creation of our spirit'.- Boeddha

kind greetings from Rita

Rita Posted 10 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
hello Bob,

all I can do is hoping you are doing fine. :-)
Wish we could speak right now.

In the meantime i wrote you a letter, i surely hope it arrives well. Once i get copied a photo of mine, I'll send it to you, ok?
You have a nice writing, Bob.

I am busy writing my writings for the jury. This course:'Literary Creation', I won! ;-))
Still a lot to do!
I was busy late at night yesterday.

On the 18th of June I will fly to Illinois, visiting my friend George in Illinois. (in prison).
6 days in June and 6 days in July. I asked for extended visits? Perhaps I do get them?
Do you get visits, Bob?

He writes on a blog, like you; some can answer.. others like you and him, cannot.

I didn't get a letter from him for more then a month! So bizar! Especially because he knows i'm visiting!! Is it because he writes things on his blog as an activist? I've not a clue...

For you here some sayings, Bob!

'We see things not as they are, but as how we are'-Anais Nin, French writer

'Intuition is a quality that doesn't explain anything, but only shows the way' -Florence Scovel Shinn, American metaphysic

'To keep a diary is a voyage to the inner life'- Christina Baldwin, American writer

Bob,all what you can do today, do not delay it for tomorrow. Make the best of your day!

A big hug from Rita :-)

Rita Posted 10 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hi Bob,

I hope you are doing fine and are happy.
Did you get my letter, Bob?

If your letter arrives on Tuesday I won't be able to read it anymore, since I leave that day for the States. I will visit my friend George, in Illinois.
His dad and me will visit him on his coming birthday. :-)

Today was my last class day in my writing course: Literature.
She asked, Yella, what were our weaknesses and our strenghts and what we achieved in this year?

Our views for the future? I've to think what I have as a goal.

My saying for you today is: 'The one who walks in a gentle way comes far'. Beautiful!

Have a big hug from me, Bob! Rita

Rita Posted 10 years, 2 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 2 months ago   Favorite
hi Bob,

My letter will be posted the 5th of July, and I had to wait for the 4th of July.

I enjoyed your very interesting letter, Bob!
You must have a kind interior life. You have so very much to offer.:-o

Each day here in Illinois, Galesburg is a busy day! I had a six hr visit for 6 days in June and 6 days in July. Which is a lot!
I walk home mostly every day for an hour, when temperatures are not that hot anymore.

I enjoy the long talks with George jr. He ever was a pen pal(I had 2 when I started 10 and more yrs ago) and he grew very dear to me.:-)I taught him today 3 Flemisch sentences. This was fun!;-)

I had to write on small pages from the hotel because I lacked writing paper! Well, this too will pass.

I will make tonight a call to my daughter Leslie in California. She will be surprised!

I will include some photos from art, ok?

All the very best! Rita

Rita Posted 10 years, 2 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 1 month ago   Favorite
Well, Bob I realized I forgot to include the art pictures I promissed; they'll come later with a letter from Belgium then.
You'll get them! :-)

It's late here. And it was a very hot day!

I am visiting George jr tomorrow and these will be my 2 last visits. He will be sad... I know him. :-(

I visited today the museum of Carl Sandburg; one of the greatest poets of America! His parents came from Sweden. Did you hear from him, Bob? He wrote many! poems for the people, he was a prose writer, he wrote children's songs and forgotten songs also, he played the gitar. He was a filosopher, a socialist, an activist and wrote the biography of Lincoln's life. He won the Pulitzer price with it. I saw his tiny birthplace in Galesburg, IL Where I am at.

A man who visited Belgium, took an interview of me. While he had visited Belgium and had written an article about my country. And was writing other articles in a magazine relating to Carl Sandburg. I told him I loved poetry! I bought two books of Sandburg and some postcards. I love reading in general as you know. Just finding the time to read ;-)

Have a nice tomorrow, Bob; and I hope you'll receive pretty soon my letter!

a big hug from Rita

Rita Posted 10 years, 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 1 month ago   Favorite
Hi Bob,

it's been a while that I wrote!
Yesterday I had my eldest daughter coming on a visit together with Bart, the friend with whom she bought a house.

They had a problem with their car going to Andorra. Between France and Spain. They remained in France with the rented car. And made the best of it.

They told me they had some pictures! Which was weird since they just returned from their trip.

We were eating a pie and I told Bart I would see them later since my hands were kind of sticky. Ans I still had to take my glasses as well.
He said: You'd better look at them right away.
And he slid them in front of me. Ow.... they were the baby photo's!! Well, Elke expects a baby. I saw the head profile, the brains, the body and one arm and a pretty big hand. So, I suspect it will be a boy. Although his two sisters also are very tall. Mom was very emotional.. me too!
The baby is due for the end of January! :-)))

Rita Posted 10 years, 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 1 month ago   Favorite
Hi Bob,

I wondered how you are doing? Busy studying? Busy reading or painting?? Maybe writing a poem? ;-)
I was inspired today by a female coach on internet. I first of all liked her saying: 'You can't do everything, but you can do anything'.

She spoke about taking action and overcome our fears. Michelangelo also had fears prior to paint, but taking action can be done with fear as well. They can go together. To take confident action toward our goals and desires.
Awareness... what do I do with that thought?. Thoughts serving me or not serving me.

Taking action is more than just a way toward your goals. It's a lifestyle.

We get to pick up that brush and enjoy painting.

We are artists and our lives are our canvas. We hold the paint brush and choose the paint.

Remembering who we are. We need people who 'see' us.

We need our mirrors, our friends to take fearless action and than to transport it out to the world.

The passion for helping people.

That was mainly the inspiration I got from a female coach by internet. And I share it with you, Bob.

Have an inspirational day! your friend, Rita :-) big hug!

Rita Posted 10 years, 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 1 month ago   Favorite
Hello Bob,

hey hey, I got very your long letter yesterday!

And somewhat I could read it much better! ;-)
Maybe because I get used to your writing and because you wrote it slightly another way?

It was an extremeluy interesting letter, Bob... I enjoyed it.

I will send some pictures with 2 paintings I made and a few of myself.

Yesterday I burned two candles (normally only one, but that second candle kept burning for ever!!! just as George,jr, haha) for the release of George, because they had his PB yesterday!
He's in jails from 18 yrs and now he could be free..... at 64. :-o

He is ready for it he tells me. To adjust to the world. I will surely help him with that! He kept always studying (just as you), reading only fiction, politics, history, science (he did university and obtained a bachelor in Science), biographies, etc..

He still watches TV on MANY chanels, reads newspapers, etc... He couldn't do any more!

And he helps people in their cases, and renewed as an activist several items. He is known for it, as I probably told you in the past.
He follows a budhistic reunion, and is a vegetarian as me.

I admit, ;-))) I still eat fish though.

I soon will write you a new letter, ok?

Take very well care of yourself, Bob, which I know you do!! :-)))

a big hug!

Rita Posted 10 years, 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 1 month ago   Favorite
oops ...your very long...

Rita Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years ago   Favorite
hello Bob,

i hope you get the mail today, 2nd of September as announced? Here schools start again.

How is everything going for you? Maybe a letter of yours is underway? And tells me all about you? How are your studies going? Are you satisfied with your progress?

I see now my 'soon' was a long time! Ouch! Sorry for that. I was gone twice in the southern part of my country; where people speak French. Near a big river or stream: La Meuse, in French; de Maas in Flemish.

I got to know a lady; Marilou. I just arrived with the train in Namur (French)/Namen (Flemish)and waited at a stop for the bus.
She sat on the same bus and she later showed me a little around in her village. She is 67 and has now just a new grandchild: Florent.

Her husband died 4 months ago that particular day! We stay in contact now.

In the train home I got to talk with a woman in her seventies: Marie Rose. She lives near my mom. In Brussels, our capital.
She likes the cultural life. And we plan to see each other to visit a museum or else?

I got a phone call. I've to go!!

Have an interesting day, Bob!

Take very well care of yourself, eh!

love Rita
Then I'm not on internet.

Rita Posted 10 years ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years ago   Favorite
hello dear Bob,

and how are you doing these days?
I surely hope you stay positive, dear friend.

It's been a while I wrote something on your blog.
I checked out of my hotel today. I was here in Namur for 4 nights. In the French southern part of the country. Namely in the Ardennes. It's having pure air, because it has plenty of woods. And the river Meuse (Maas in Flemish)flows through the city.

I visited the Citadel before. It's one of the biggest of Europe.
It once served to protect Namur from the ennemy, but now one can just visit it. It seems like a fortress.
Well, I will send pictures of it, ok?

I hope I got a letter from you coming home!

Bob, take well care of yourself and do recieve a big hug from Rita!

'You're never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true'- Richard Bach

Bob, smile a smile for me, :-)

Rita Posted 9 years, 11 months ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 11 months ago   Favorite
hey Bob,

Maybe there is a letter from you in my mailbox... maybe not?
I hope so!
I gave a long answer on yours, did you get it?

How is your study? Do you stick with it?
If you have bright discoveries I should know about, tell me, ok?. We can always discuss certain areas of course.

I am still grieving, because George wasn't released. I've no idea why?
He only had two votes and needs 7 on 13 judges.
I am still confused in a way.
Nevertheless I will travel to the States; to visit my daughter and next visit George.
Summer in California and winter in Illinois.

This time my suitcase will be heavier for the winter clothing!
I leave on the 29th of November and will be in America till the 10th of January. We thus can celebrate Christmas and the New Year together!

No Italian course today, while our volunteer teacher (he teaches French as well) is on a trip to Norway with his wife.

Bob, how is your son doing? Did he decide what to do with his future?

I've to go; my computer is in repair and I'm in a library right now.

Hope you read this fairly soon and have a big hug from Rita!

Rita Posted 9 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 10 months ago   Favorite
hello dear Bob,

how is your life going along? I hope you still receive my messages I place here?

I would like to find a letter from you in my mailbox!? I hope it's before the 29th, since I leave that particular day for America!

At first I will visit Leslie and her family in San Diegi, California. It will be nice to see the grandkids!! :-)
Adric and Claire. They are 4 and a half and two and a half.

Then on the 20th of December I will fly to Illinois, Galesburg. To visit him there. I got 6 hrs each day! Extended visits. 6 days in December and 6 days in January.

George wasn't released after all... it is very hard on him. 46 yrs in prison. Why? He has PB, bust always they deny his case.
Next year he can have already another turn.
I will write a letter that will open and shake their consciousness!
It depends only on these judges! They are 13 and he needs 7 votes. He only had 2.
I will certainly thank the 2 people who voted in his favor!
Our fate is in their hands. Life is not about revenge. It is about forgiving.
I heard from his lawyer that there are men and women in the pannel.

My letter will be hard. And yet.... I will appeal on their humanity... their souls...

Bob, I hope you are doing well? Take very well care about yourself. Be gentle for yourself, you are a worthfull man.
May you be blessed in every possible way.

Never forget you have a good friend, called Rita

A big hug from me!

Rita Posted 9 years, 8 months ago. ✓ Mailed 9 years, 8 months ago   Favorite
hello Bob,

it's been a while. I will write you a letter pretty soon from Galesburg, Illinois.

I hope we still can write? How is everything going with you?

Ia am in cold Illinois and right now in a library. I am visiting my friend George jr. We enjoy our time together.
Yesterday we sat next to a young black man and a person who read articles out of the bible. They can ask for such a visit.
I smiled to him and we only had that instant marvelous connection.

That young man did something for his soul, and saw while people from outside and women. I knew it was a big deal I smiled at him, while putting some snacks on our table.
It was like he got self worth and he meant something to me. I did it so spontanious but I felt a big warmth in my heart doing that for him.
I knew he went happily back to his room. :-))

Also the preacher smiled back at me. Little things sometimes mean the world to you.

Have a wonderfull New Year, Bob, and I wish you good health for the spirit and the body.

warm hugs from cold Illinois! Rita

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