Oakville Zen Meditation

#411 Attachment and Detachment by Kris Aug. 28 22

                                               ATTACHMENT AND DETACHMENT

One of Buddha's first teachings was that everything in life is transient. Unfortunately, we are attached to these transient things or beings, and thus suffering ensues.

All of us are attached to something: our parents, spouse, child, or profession.

Attachment is a feeling. It is a mere thought. We attach ourselves to things and beings. Without it we consider ourselves to be incomplete.

Loving your spouse or children or your profession by itself is not bad. However, there has to be cognizance that these are all transient and things will change. For example, your children will grow up and leave you.

The great spiritual teachers state that the path of suffering is that our  Attachment leads to fear( loss of object/person) and then this fear turns to anger. Remove Attachment/Cause, Fear, and Anger/Effect disappear.  For example: if your teenage son has a curfew hour of midnight, and he does not return till 2 am, you are very fearful about the reasons for his delay because of your attachment. And when he turns up and states that he forgot about the time, your fear immediately turns to anger when you state, “why did you not call me ?”

Attachment is another word for, “I want” or ego! Attachment is also another word for bondage. This dependency has to be removed for inner peace and equanimity.

So how do we develop this detachment?

The saying goes: as we move towards the east, the west is automatically left behind.  One does not have to focus on dropping worldly things because they automatically drop away when one pursues a higher path.

Thus move toward a higher goal in life. Examine the lives of great scientists, sculptors, painters, and writers. They are so deeply focused on their pursuit of knowledge and creativity that they do not have time for other worldly pursuits. Did Einstein focus on worldly things? No, because he was so focused on something higher like maths and science.

Thus their life becomes simpler and material things do not matter much and they drop away. Their attention is entirely on their work. In the spiritual path when God's realization is your main goal, material things become less significant.

Discipline is required to reduce worldly desires, which gives you the freedom to pursue a higher goal. The more time one devotes to meditation, prayers, Sangha, etc,  then there will be less time for mundane worldly activities. Love for God and dispassion for the world should exist side by side. However, it is better to emphasize positive things and automatically renunciation. It is akin to a child being attached to the toys and with maturity, outgrowing these toys. So even if presented later, the teenager is not interested in the child’s toys. The joy of the higher transcends the lower pleasures. Regular practice like meditation makes this journey possible.

The practice of detachment implies Awareness at different levels: being attached to x,y, and z but also the risk of losing it, or our complete identification with the object which is ego-driven.  Or most important, this Awareness of the transient nature of the world develops Gratitude and Contentment for what we have- which is essential for our spiritual growth.