In essence, nothing is permanent.
Think of it: what is permanent? You can try to search repeatedly; you will always get the same answer: nothing. Our parents aren’t going to be here forever. Our lovers, dogs, homes, cars, and even our Earth is not permanent. Everything has a beginning and an end. Why? Because it is what it is. Everything, every situation, every feeling, and every thought are temporary.
With that in mind, why do we always feel the urge to attach ourselves to others, our possessions, and our quiet and safe home even though we know that it will end one day? The answer to that question is our education. We are born and raised so that we are attached to our family and friends. Please don’t assume that it is our fault because we grew up in this. We did not choose it. Our conditioning is powerful! We desire, grasp, and attach ourselves to experiences that will soon be past us. At first sight, it’s not a bad thing to be attached. It shows that we love our people, possessions, and a safe and chill life. But here is the biggest mistake we make in our everyday lives: we often confuse love and attachment, but they are opposites. True love allows honor and appreciate. It is a universal heartfelt feeling of caring and connectedness.
On the other hand, attachment grasps, demands, needs, and aims to possess. It is conditioned to our needs. It is fear-based and only gives love to certain people in a particular way: it’s exclusive.
What do we have to do to get rid of attachment? The solution is non-attachment, but it can be mistaken for detachment. Let me explain :
Non-attachment means that you already know everything is impermanent and that you will suffer from it, so you choose not to expect anything from anyone and still love and laugh with the people you care about. You live in the present moment, in this world. Detachment means that you choose not to care about anyone or anything. You’re in a permanent state of negligence and disinterest. You separate yourself from the rest of the world. Essentially, this is escapism (which is a form of suffering).
However, a practice of non-attachment doesn’t affect how you appreciate, love, admire and enjoy life. It simply means that your happiness is no longer defined by anything outside you. In other words, you remain free.
You must understand that your well-being is influenced by the things you allow yourself to be attached to. If you allow yourself to be controlled by everything that appears to you (people, places, events, thoughts), your life will be an endless rollercoaster of ups and downs. You will be a pendulum, constantly swinging between joy and disaster. If you practice non-attachment in your everyday life, you’ll see that your relationships will improve significantly. Just because yourself and your ego, in general, will not be the center of your relationship anymore: you will not expect anything in return, and your love will not be conditioned!
I want to use a simple example of how you could picture this:
Take a coin and imagine that it is the object or person you want to keep with you. Keep it well tight in your closed hand and extend your arm, the palm of your hand facing down. What will happen if you release your hand? You will lose what you were clinging to before. Hence, the reason you keep grasping – is not to lose anything. But there is another possibility. You can let go without losing anything: the arm still extended, face your hand to the sky, and release it. Open your fist: the coin is still in your hand. You let go, and the coin is still yours! So there is a way to accept impermanence while living great and without attaching yourself to anything.
Let’s take a look at what happens regularly in relationships.
Often, we realize that we love our partners only when we lose them. So we grasp them much stronger, but the more fragile the relationship gets, the more we do this.
We desire happiness. But the way we are searching for it is so clumsy and improper that we get more disappointment than happiness. We suppose that to get satisfaction, we have to grasp the object that will give it to us. We wonder how is it possible to enjoy something we don’t possess: see how much we mistake love and attachment? In a healthy relationship, love is tainted with bad feelings: insecurity, jealousy, and pride. And then, when love is gone, the only things left are memories of love and attachment scars.
To get over attachment, we need to realize the nature of impermanence in everything. After this, we will start to see the clouds disappear slowly, and love will rule our world.
“The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,” Sogyal Rinpoché, 1992
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