When we are attached – to thinking, people, places, situations, things, health, money, status, to name just a few attachments – we end up believing that our happiness depends on the having of those things and the not-having becomes a cause of suffering and unhappiness. (Or the reverse).
There are 3 tenets of Buddhism that when practiced, contribute to a clear mind and inner quietude. They are non-attachment, non-resistance and non-judgment.
Let’s Look at Non-attachment
Discovery: take just one item from the above list (whether or not you currently ‘have’ it or you ‘want’ it or you don’t ‘have it’ or don’t ‘want it’) and ask yourself, Who am I without that thing, way of living, person? Who am I with that thing, way of living, person? Does my happiness depend on having or not-having that thing, way of living, person?
The secret to getting to a neutral, non-attached place inside, is to be truly, sincerely and absolutely OK with either having or not having something. When you are absolutely OK with whatever you have or don’t have, you are then surrendered fully to the present moment and Life Itself can bring you experiences for your growth and happiness which is now dependent on who you really are inside.
My RV Wandering Lifestyle
Thinking this through for myself, I thought of my RV and the wanderings I am able to experience. Am I attached to this way of life? I’d say most certainly I could be attached to it – it brings me great joy to be able to wander and experience new environments, the wonders of mountains and forests, wildflowers and rivers, meeting new people and most of all, the sense of freedom to be anywhere I choose and still work and write.
Does my happiness depend on my wandering in my RV? Hmmm – there are other ways to wander for sure. And if I’m not wandering for some reason, then I can still do my work from anywhere I have internet access and I can write from my heart no matter where I am in the world.
Preference Versus Having to Have (or Not-have)
My preference is my RV wandering. Does my happiness depend on it? No – I’ve experienced beautiful and amazing locations quite apart from my RV where I’ve been able to work and write – each being an adventure of some kind. I’ve also experienced being in less inviting environments and still being able to work and write by looking for and finding things or people to appreciate.
Now my preference for wandering in my RV becomes something to really value and appreciate. Wow! How lucky am I to work and write and live the lifestyle my RV affords me. I’m no longer dependent on it, rather I’m enormously grateful for it and all it offers.
Gratitude Releases Attachment
That in itself is an awesome revelation. Gratitude releases attachment and the fear behind attachment that says I am dependent on something outside myself for happiness.
And of course what we focus on returns to us multiplied, so the more I focus on my appreciation the more that focus grows.
It is an ongoing process – questioning ourselves as to our levels of dependencies on someone, something or somewhere for our happiness and ability to live the magnificent lives were born to experience.
Alignment With Presence
There is also the perspective that there are environments that seem to make our hearts sing a little more; for some it might be the quietude of nature, for another the bustle of activity and aliveness in a big and exciting city. Again, gratitude helps to surrender to what is in the present moment, which then brings us into alignment with the impulses of the Essence we really are.
And it’s good to find a place inside that knows we could find happiness again if a dear one were to leave our lives – as devastatingly painful as that is. It’s not that we don’t allow ourselves to feel the loss, rather it’s about embracing fully what appears as a loss and allowing the process to lead us back home to the reality of who we really are.
Once again, gratitude for experiences moves us towards healing and helps to release attachments.
Who we THINK We Are is NOT Who We REALLY ARE.
We can also be attached to thinking that defines who we think we are. I had this challenging experience in my childhood and that defines who I am today. Maybe, but what if it didn’t have to. Maybe it is time to release attachment to ‘that’s what makes me who I am today‘.
Who would you be if you didn’t think those thoughts? (The 3rd question of Byron Katie’s The Work). This is such an important question that it deserves a peaceful space of time set aside to ruminate upon your answer.
Who would you be really?
What does that look like and feel like?
What would be different in your life?
Who would you be if having to have or not-have was no longer a part of how you see yourself?
Who would you be if you asked yourself What if I was wrong about the conclusions I drew?
What if there is a different way of thinking altogether that just hasn’t come to me yet – but is about to?
These kinds of questions take you deeper and deeper into the Essence of who you really are.
Think about the coffee you have to have in the morning. Or the drink to relax after work.
How do you respond to the world of commerce that has marketing to your unconscious perfected? Do I REALLY have to have this? is a great question to ask before you purchase ANYTHING. Who would I be if I DIDN’T have it? Or I DID? Getting to neutral is a perfect strategy for any decision-making.
Another good place to notice possible attachment is feedback – can you stay detached when someone criticizes – constructively or otherwise – something or someone who is important to you, or even you?
I find it extremely helpful to say to myself as I am editing a piece of writing – how attached am I to this concept, this way of saying something? It gives me pause, space for Life Itself to come into my awareness and then I know how it needs to be.
Have fun with your questioning about
having to and not-having to.
Next week we’ll look at nonjudgment.