Non-attachment is about not resisting loss. It’s partly about surrendering to what is and not holding on to anything or anyone so tightly that you invest your sense of self in that attachment.
This is easier said that done, but it’s the goal. Partly by adjusting EXPECTATIONS, by understanding that all attachments are fleeting, and impertinent.
Also you can adjust your PERCEPTION of your relationships with attachments, removing ownership desires and delusions.
If you can do this with any attachments, you can enjoy them more with a deeper level of gratitude. Enjoy them while they last, rather than wasting energy fearing their loss.
The reality is you are going to lose them at some point, so better get your head around it, enjoy them and get on with it.
More about attachments
Think about your attachment to say, your home. You invest your hard earned money in something that you hope will not just provide you a home but also some security in your old age. It’s free to live in once you’ve paid off your mortgage, but when you die, you will leave it to your kids most likely. You surrender your claim to it through death. It provides security in life but death parts your ownership of it. The reality of your attachment is, you get to make use of it while you’re here, but then it moves on to your next of kin. The ownership is permission to exclusively use of it, for a limited time, nothing more.
Ownership of your home is one of the more financially savvy things to do, but we often attach to other possessions in much the same way, but not for investment reasons. We feel attached to anything we consider “mine”. Cars, clothes, phones to name a few. We feel the same sense of loss for things that don’t actually have any investment value to us. They depreciate in value over time, yet we get upset if we lose them or they are taken from us. This is because we have invested our sense of self in them.
They come to mean something to us, they are part of who we see ourselves to be. They are part of us. If we hear about someone, we don’t know, having their car stolen, we may not pay much attention to it, but if it’s our car that’s stolen we become upset. This is attachment. The difference is my car is part of my sense of self.
The more stuff we have, the more attachments we have, the more chance of feeling upset when we lose any of them, because we feel we’ve lost something of ourselves.
Attachments spread to people. We may invest our sense of self in our friends and family. They become part of us. When they suffer, we suffer. We mourn their loss. We may focus on our lives not being the same without them. It’s never going to be the same again, we may think. This is mourning a loss of the quality of our lives, a loss to our sense of self. Sure we may also feel sorrow for the other person, for their lost opportunities, unrealised desires etc, but a big part of grief is loss for ourselves. It’s a selfish tendency, but a natural one, when we hold tight to attachments.
We need to enjoy our close relationships, make the most of the time we have with them, but understand they are impertinent. When that person has gone, enjoy the memories we shared, sure, but always focus on our remaining relationships, because they too are impertinent.
We can also be attached to ideas, thoughts, political parties, religious ideologies, mental positions and views. When these attachments are challenged or attacked, we feel the same emotions as if we were being attacked, personally.
It could be argued that attachments to possessions and people are in fact attachments to the the thoughts or ideas about a possession or person, rather than an actual attachment to the subject of the attachment.
Attachments to thoughts can be very dangerous, because repetitive thought patterns become our BELIEFS and most of what we do in life is shaped by our beliefs. Wars are fought, lives are lost over strong attachments to beliefs. I won’t go into depth about belief attachments here but they are discussed elsewhere on this website.
It’s self preservation that pushes us to attach to things. Attachment is a survival instinct. We fight for what we are attached to. But attaching has a downside. We feel pain when we lose the subject of our attachment.
We are destined to feel pain, because all attachments are impermanent. In spiritual terms, attachment is of the Ego. We have ourselves wrapped up with the attachment, it is part of our sense of self, part of who we see ourselves to be. “It’s mine”, we tell ourselves.
We can become attached to people, possessions, ideas, thoughts, and political and religious ideologies. In fact all attachments are made via our thoughts. thoughts about people, possessions, mental positions, ideologies etc. Thoughts are the creator of attachments and also the point where we can break our attachments. If we change our thoughts about these attachments, we can change the attachments themselves.
Changing our expectations about our attachments means we no longer expect them to be available to us forever, because all attachments are impermanent. This is a fact, but instead of fearing their loss, fill your energy with appreciation and enjoy them while you can.
We can also Change our perceptions about our attachments. We get to enjoy them for a time, but they are not ours. Ownership is an illusion. We are custodians only for our possessions, and only for a limited period of time.
We should also question our thoughts about all our attachments, increasing awareness about the why we hold on to them. Where do we get our ideas, thoughts from? Why do we hold only certain political and religious ideologies.? Most beliefs, which are rigid thought forms, are taken from inferences and assumptions, rather than from fact and truths. So be very curious about any such attachments. We are all products of our experiences and environments, and we may only know what someone else wants us to believe, rather than what is fact and what actually serves us best.