by Andrew Martin: Six reasons you might want to let go of attachment…
“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached” – Simone Weil
The Buddha taught that attachment, which is the desire to hold on to a permanent state or keep a thing or person, generates craving, wanting, and insecurity, and he believed it is one of the main causes of human suffering.
Non-attachment, on the other hand, aims to cultivate a mind free from these limiting desires. Once we do this we can then move towards a mind of oneness, which involves compassion, clarity of vision, and an understanding of impermanence.
Not only do humans become attached to physical objects or things, but also to relationships, ideas, opinions, and success and failure. Most the of problems we face as a species and planet are a direct result of our attachment to one or more of these things.
If there is one thing that remains certain in this life, it is change. As soon as we realize the impermanence of our existence it becomes much easier to let go of attachment. While in theory this sounds easy, however, even the greatest of masters struggle with letting go…
letting go of attachment
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go” – Herman Hesse
1. Less Pain and Suffering
Humans tend to hold on to things, but this futile grasping, this attachment, most often leads to pain and suffering. This is because we internalize possessions, relationships, or other objects of desire. Let me explain. Suppose I have access to something or someone from whom I derive pleasure, happiness, or some form of enjoyment, then suddenly this access is taken away. What happens? If we are attached, we suffer; we feel like we have been robbed. We feel like something that was once ‘ours’ is no longer. Hence, we suffer and experience pain.
2. Releasing Illusory States
The human mind is an aggregate of conditions, beliefs, experiences, and perceptions. We start building mental models of the way things should be. As most of us do not live in the present, we hang on to these illusions which exist only in our minds. When something comes along that doesn’t correlate with our illusory mental states, we again suffer and again experience pain. This is because we have anchored or attached onto some object, experience, or desire that we wish to possess.
3. Letting Go of Ego and Identity
We also become attached to our constructed identities. The ego is the I, the me, our personal identity. It is our perception of self, the separation of ourselves from others, our attachment to who we think we are. It is an illusion that we have created to distract us from the truth. We fear losing our identity, as this identity gives us something to cling on to. Many people have experienced this loss of identity more recently with the global financial crisis. Jobs, homes, and relationships have been destroyed. Our attachment to these physical objects and relationships has left many people empty and struggling to find some form of identity.
4. Attachment Restricts New Experiences and Limits Potential
Non-attachment and openness allows the individual to accept alternative ideas, possibilities, and change. This facilitates the cultivation of new ideas and opportunities and promotes the state of ‘beingness’ as opposed to ‘doingness.’ In this modern, 24/7 techno hyperdrive of sensory overload it is often difficult detach ourselves because we have become too busy. We are busy being distracted and seduced by the next sound bite, the next gadget, the next thing.
5. Experience Freedom, Space, and Meaning
Non-attachment gives us the freedom, space, and time to contemplate the true meaning of life, while attachment distracts us from reality. It influences how we perceive and react to our immediate world, since a world of excess leads to a roller coaster of highs and lows. This in turn motivates us to seek out more of those high moments of pleasure. We enter into a hedonistic world of want-fulfilment which creates further wanting in an attempt to bring lasting happiness.
6. Truly Experiencing What it Means to Love
While at first the concept of non-attachment in relationships and love seems almost contradictory, it makes complete sense when you consider the true nature of love. When you love without condition (without attachment to receiving anything back) you are truly loving. Love is a state of being.
When you love someone and expect something in return, that relationship is then based upon condition. When you love someone or something without being concerned for a result, or reciprocity, then you have mastered what it means to love. To let go of this state of wanting something in return is truly powerful and the highest form of love we can offer, as it exists without condition and without fear. It is pure freedom.