“The root of suffering is attachment” ~ Buddha
Attachments come in many forms; so much so that there are probably hundreds of attachments you are holding on to right now that you had no idea even existed. They come in the form of anything from beliefs (about ourselves and others), expectations of how situations should go or ways people should behave, to more obvious things like relationships & material possessions.
Anytime we are dead set on something happening, or are holding on to an idea, belief or plan, or object so tightly that we are unable to entertain any other points of view or options of outcomes, this is an indication that we have formed an attachment.
What we may not realize, however, is that in doing so we are also setting ourselves up to experience some level of suffering. The level of suffering is directly proportionate to the level of attachment. The more fiercely we are clinging to an idea or belief, the more pain, anger, or hurt we experience when someone or something threatens it or in our perceived loss of it.
Since most attachments are so embedded in our minds it may be hard for us to identify all of them at first, and once we have identified where we are attached, it may be even harder for us to cut the cord on them. After all, that’s why they call them attachments right?
So how do we go about identifying where we are attached, and how do the attachments form anyways?
“True non-attachment is understanding that you are fundamentally attached to everything and through that understanding dropping your attachment to the view that you are detached from that which you encounter. At the same time real non-attachment means not clinging to things or people. It means dropping the idea that if you don’t have this or if you can’t get that, your life will be a catastrophe.” ~ Brad Warner
The fact of the matter is, attachments are stemming from the illusory world of fear. There are many different reasons fear may manifest as an attachment.
Some of the more common ones being: fear of losing control, where the underlying belief is that “If I don’t control how every situation goes, I will feel anxious and uncomfortable so I am attached to an outcome, to things going exactly how I want them to,” or fear of being alone, which will manifest in such ways as attachment to people or relationships, also fear of not being worthy or measuring up, which in turn forces us to become attached to an idealized image or even material possessions which we believe will turn us in to the happy person we long to be.
There’s the even deeper attachments also. Some of these come in the forms of belief systems. These beliefs begin to form our ego. Then, we become so attached to who we think we are, we become agitated or even aggressive when someone dares to question us. For example, let’s say someone has attached themselves to the idea that they are a democrat, or republican or a Muslim or a Christian… doesn’t really matter what the label is.
But when we cling to labels based in belief systems such as these, what we are really saying is that we are afraid to be wrong. We have intertwined who we THINK we are so much with this certain religion or political party that if an idea comes along that does not coincide with our beliefs we immediately must discard it as a non-truth.
Because anything else would threaten who we believe we are, but in actuality it’s not who we are at all. It’s just a label we have chosen to attach to. What we fail to realize here is that the inherent fearful nature of our attachments ensures their fallibility. Anytime fear is the underlying reason, it means that there is some level of resistance happening.
When we resist how people are behaving, or how life is actually being presented to us, or being open to another person’s belief we prevent life from being able to transpire naturally in a path of non-resistance. We also fail to allow the intelligence of the Universe to make things go in a direction that is most beneficial for us because we are too busy complaining about how things didn’t go the way we wanted.
The outcome we were attached to happening didn’t, therefore we become consumed with the idea that things have gone “wrong”, when in all actuality, we are preventing the flow of life to unfold with ease.
“Dying to your own attachments is a beautiful death, because this death releases you into real life. You have to die as a seed to live as a tree.” ~ Mooji
We must die to what we thought we were, or what we thought would happen, or what we thought we should have in order to become what we were truly meant to be. In order to do this we must force ourselves to become super aware where we are holding on to fears which are in turn becoming attachments.
Once we have confronted these attachments and confronted the fear, we will most likely find that the outcome or belief that we were holding on to so aggressively was never really real at all, it was only an intangible idea in our heads.
We’ve already experienced things not turning out the way we planned probably millions of times since we’ve been born and we seemed to make it through those days okay, so who’s to say we need to attach ourselves to the way any future events will go?
Also, in the present moment (which is all that truly exists) do our labels for ourselves matter?
Aren’t they really only ideas in our heads or words on a piece of paper? Does anything about your present moment change if you were to lose your “labels”? Are you not still sitting at your computer reading this article whether or not you’re a democrat or a Christian, or whether or not you end up having to stay late at work tonight or get that vacation time you put in for at the end of the month?
Detach from everything you must be, and from everything you think must happen… allow yourself to be life itself. Be in a state of total freedom, with no cords of attachments holding you back.