The other day I thought of an experience I had many years ago with a teacher who had me write things that were bothering me on pieces of paper which I then burned, the idea being to free myself from these thoughts. I thought that ritual-like practice warranted another go in my present circumstances.
And so one morning after meditating I wrote the various feelings … fear, anger, anxiety, insecurity, etc. … that I feel, and also the perceptions … that something will hurt me or harm me or cause me unhappiness … that lie behind those feelings on slips of paper. I kept it rather general, not describing things in detail. For good measure, I included slips that just said, “the past,” and “consciousness-ego,:”
The point was that I wanted to further free myself from all five skandhas, something that my awareness of their being empty of intrinsic existence had not completely accomplished. Several key areas of insecurity have remained.
I then put them in a bowl and burned them to ashes, intoning as they burned that I was letting go my attachment to the past and all five skandhas.
I then buried the ashes, intoning that treating myself with loving kindness, I was returning the ashes of the skandhas to the earth.
It may sound silly, but there was something profoundly peaceful about this symbolic act. Letting go of primal elements of our character is a very difficult thing to accomplish. It is one thing to say you are letting things go; it is quite another to actually do it, consistently. This is perhaps a very gentle way of helping the process. As always, time will tell.