mewithoutYou: Let It Go

It can sound like a bad thing, like I'm struggling or I have doubts or I'm not sure, but really it could also be a good thing. While I've experienced many things, I want to go deeper. I want to go further and put the past behind me. To see what more mercy there is.

-Aaron Weiss on spiritual struggles

"It's really sweet. We can really travel light that way. We don't have to carry around the baggage of anything anyone's done to us, or any mistakes we've made. We don't have to carry around the regret from that or all the pride from the things we think we've accomplished. We literally don't carry anything. So, it's so wonderful," continues Aaron. "It's like going on a long journey and then trying to pack all these suitcases. It's not long before you start thinking, 'Why did I bring all this crap?' You think it's good, like you think you need that microwave oven [laughs]. But as you're trekking across the desert you start to wonder, 'Wait, maybe I could drop the microwave, because it used to be valuable but now it's just a burden to me.' And that's the way it seems to everything in my life."

Aaron Weiss
Letting go of self-definitions can often be frightening, and is something I struggle with, so the subject hits close to home for this writer.

"Right, right, but little by little," Aaron says. "It doesn't have to be all at once, it might be too much, but we can start small. Just look at something, take a given thought that comes to our mind, someone who wronged us and we can say, 'Okay, I can let go of that one. The thing this guy did to me a few years ago, I can accept it. I can thank God for that rather than holding it against him. I can pray for that person or I can be grateful that it happened exactly that way and have a certain faith that it was for a good reason if I don't understand it.' Just see if that makes it better, see if that feels lighter or feels more peaceful, and if so, move on to the next thing, until maybe someday we'll be completely content with everyone as they are, even with our self, but also willing to move forward, you know? I know it's not easy. I understand what you're saying."

Does this mean Aaron feels like he's coming to his own sense of peace?

"No, but having read enough from and hearing what Bawa said and seeing tapes of him talk - he left the world a long time ago, I don't really remember him, I was just a little baby the last time I saw Bawa in person - but he seemed to be in that place that I'm describing. And that's the only reason I would even think it's possible. You read about people like Jesus from thousands of years ago that were really on a different level as far as their insight into things. But, that's so long ago you don't really know if what you're hearing is true or if it was all changed through history. But Bawa lived up until the 1980s. You can really watch him and listen to what he says and then you see how he was, even with just the look in his eyes you say, 'Man, this guy saw something. He was at a place that I am not. And he experienced things that I haven't. And he has a peace and a love and a compassion that I don't have but he looks like just another human being like me so maybe I can attain that too.'"

I'm also curious about the theme of ego-loss (in the Buddhist sense of the word) in the album. It runs strong, particularly in the song "Good-bye I!"

"That's something Bawa spoke of and was able to draw together, the Eastern philosophies or religions with the Western major monotheistic religions, and particularly my background for awhile really into the Christian religion, but never really understanding that aspect of the teachings, never seeing that call of the cross and seeing that as the call to die or to give up our self, to give up our ego and instead let God who is one live," says Aaron. "So, it's all there in the Western religions, too - the unity and oneness and giving up of the self. I never saw it for a long time until I started listening to Bawa, who would talk about Jesus but he would also talk about Buddha and he would talk about Mohamed and he would talk about Moses, and in a way that didn't seem contradictory. 'Peace be upon them, all God's prophets.' It didn't seem like an 'us versus them' [situation], or I have to give up Jesus to accept what Bawa is saying. It seemed like a part of a continuation of what anyone throughout time who has every really looked into these things and been willing to give up what they were holding onto and what they had created, it seems to be what everybody in their heart already knows."

When I got off the phone with Aaron, I thought of my visit to New York in the summer of 2005. It was during a particularly painful time in my life, and all I wanted to do on that trip was bar hop until I was sufficiently numb. But for some reason, I felt compelled to go to the Hayden Planetarium. After seeing the star show and other exhibits, I wound my way down the spiral ramp through the Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway - the 13 billion year history of the universe captured in 360 feet. Evolution, constant change, as each of our steps took us 75 million years further along, through the birth of the Milky Way and the age of the dinosaurs. At the end of that ramp, there's a thread the width of a human hair. It represents the sum total of our species' existence to date. I stared at it and, for a moment, my fear and hurt dissipated. Talk about gaining perspective and zooming out on the timeline.

Bill Hicks once said in the monologue that closed his last appearance on stage, "It's only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money. Just a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy bigger guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one." There it is again, the simplicity of that choice, to look to this often broken world with wonder and love instead of fear. No matter what fuels you on this ride, there are these common threads to follow, weaving through the songs of many seekers who have danced through this hair in the cosmos, tugging at all those questions we don't know how to answer when we gaze up into that endless night sky.

mewithoutYou is on tour now, dates available here.

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[Published on: 7/9/09]

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