Oakville Zen Meditation

#241 Love and Attachment: is there a difference Set. 16 18

                                Love and attachment: Is there a difference?

Difficult question. since these 2 words are perceived almost synonymous.

From our own experience we know that when we love someone or something we become, subconsciously attached to this person or a thing like home, car, sex, chocolate, addiction, etc.,

We are even totally attached to our thoughts.

What we perceive as love is probably more attachment and we will see below that attachment and love are complete opposite of each other.

True or genuine Love:

In its true, genuine sense, love is probably spiritual, beyond the mind, the body, our needs and our control. It is selfless, altruistic, non-judgmental, forgiving, patient, aw/o conditions and w/o strings attached. In true love, the notion of me-I –myself- mine is secondary. Loving our kids is a good example. For most of us, when we fall in love, we are always, at least in our subconscious mind, expecting to receive something back that will make us happy in exchange of our love and care. It cannot be otherwise. To love another is to satisfy the self and to satisfy the self is to love another who matches our expectations and needs.

Genuine love is selfless, empathic, unconditional, non-judgmental and non-demanding. This is giving regardless of what we are getting in exchange. But.....is it possible since our ego is so powerful? Can we love w/o expecting anything back such as pleasure, comfort, trust, help, etc..


Contrary to true love, we are attached because of what we are getting or don’t want to get from the other side. Attachment can be generated by anything from love to material stuff or spiritual values.

Attachment in Tibetan is ”dö chag,” which literally means “sticky desire”.

When we love, attachment kicks in automatically, sort of “ a disguised “I want from you”

1)There is a stickiness, neediness, dependency to be satisfied with whom, with this and that.

2)A strong subconscious self-centered expectation & behavior is also associated .

There is no other way.

It is “I need you to make ME happy”, as opposed to “I want to make YOU happy”, which is genuine love.

Attachment weakens us, and impedes the key to achieve serenity because of the risk of loosing what

or whom we are attached to. Attachment is always creating subconsciously anxiety for the fear of loosing whom/what we are attached to especially when we have no control and everything is transient.

Spanish language does not have the words “ I love you”, they say “ Yo te quiero” meaning “I want you”

This honesty. When Jo tells a new attractive date “ I love you”, what he has in mind is something else rather than in his heart, at least initially. This is nature at work. Women are probably different.

When we finally discover the real understanding of love vs. attachment, it is shocking, for most of us, to realize that we are mostly been attached to what we are getting from desires and expectations rather than expressing true love that is loving w/o condition, w/o expectation in return.


We can say, now, that there is a difference between love and attachment but, in practice, the line we draw in our heads is still quite blurry and often we cannot love to love without attachment because our ego is so powerful.

How many of us can truly say, “I love you unconditionally?  Probably almost no one including myself. but based on my understanding of life and Zen practice, love can grow w/o strings attached and my discernment of love and attachment is becoming clearer....somewhat.

If you were truly in love, can you detach yourself from your desires and have no expectation from the outcome of your relationship?. The answer is no.

Is it possible to love and be happy with someone who is giving nothing back?

But, it’s never too late to let go of attachment to let your True love to come in...but how?

Does love, as given-take is true love? Think about it.

The final point: attachment cannot be eliminated but we have to keep in mind the potential negative impacts of loosing what we are attached to. Attachment to our thoughts is probably the first one to control, if not to eliminate.