4-16-23 Attachment


How much “pleasure” is simply an escape or a temporary forgetting of daily problems? People hold themselves prisoner with their attachment to passing pleasures. Addiction and depression often go hand in hand, so apart from the physical addiction there is usually a lot of healing needed. Whether smoking, drinking, over-eating, using drugs, being addicted to sex, excessively watching TV or using the  computer, job or money fixation, worrying what others think or comparing, there is usually an underlying frustration or problem—perhaps from our childhood—and we try to forget by absorbing ourselves in something else. Although meditation and mindfulness are certainly not an instant solution, they do work on a deeper level to gradually transform the mind and gain some control.

In “The Shenpa Syndrome: Learning to Stay,” Pema Chodron suggests that we observe ourselves: Do we exaggerate the positive qualities of things we’re attached to? Are they really worth all our troubles? “Something like food, or alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or working, or shopping, or whatever we do, which, perhaps in moderation would be very delightful. But these things become imbued with an addictive quality because we empower them with the idea that they will bring us comfort. We never get at the root. The root in this case is that we have to really experience unease. We have to experience the itch. We have to experience it and then not act it out.”

It has to do with wanting to connect and live from your basic goodness, your basic openness, your basic lack of prejudice, your basic lack of bias, your basic warmth. Wanting to live from that. It begins to become a stronger force than the attachment and it stops the chain reaction. 

We think being uneasy (if not unhappy) is a natural state for us. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are naturally open, loving and compassionate beings who can have wonderful connections if we choose to let go of things and let our spirit lead the way. As we relax our attachment, our being mentally weighed down by anything, our intuition, common sense and sense of humor begin to arise naturally. How nice to hear from our old friends and let the lightness of life raise us up a bit. 

The necessity to have an awareness of our “itch” and not act on it, is countered by the itch that there’s something we should do, or should have done. We do need to take care of business in a timely manner. Sometimes things that bring a bit of fear need to be addressed so they don’t become a burden that weighs on us. A touch of wisdom and courage are needed to move well through life.

There’s nothing wrong with striving to accomplish something, making a living, making friends, having some nice things you enjoy.  Non-attachment does not require extreme asceticism or shunning human contact. Non-attachment comes from the wisdom that nothing is truly separate or lasting.

It is when we see something or someone as separate, and desire to have or control it, that attachment and suffering arise. We need some control over the desire to control, through renouncement. 

“Renunciation comes from within, it is inner wisdom, inner knowledge.” — Lama Yeshe

Bill W. writes, “Creation gave us instincts for a purpose…So these desires—for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship—are perfectly right and necessary…Yet these instincts, so necessary for our existence, often far exceed their proper functions. Powerfully, blindly, many times subtly, they drive us, dominate us, and insist on ruling our lives.”

Attachment can be compared to fire. If we grasp fire, what happens? Does it lead to
happiness? We can enjoy and appreciate fire. It’s nice having a fire…it keeps the room warm, but we do not have to burn ourselves in it. We can never be at peace while desire is nagging at us. We need to learn to relax, have some fun and smile more, for no good reason.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — Albert Einstein

In an interview with Buddhist monk Dai En Friedman, Robert Campbell Chodo remembers telling her “’I’ve been sober for five years, and I’m having a really hard time with it. I’m so depressed, and my childhood was terrible with incest and drugs and this and that. And I come from this long line of alcoholics and violence.’ Basically, I just vomited all over this woman. Her response was the catalyst for my shift in consciousness: ‘You know what you need to do? You need to shut up. You need to shut up, and shut up long enough to hear your story, because it’s just a story, and you’ve been carrying it around now for what, 35 years, 40 years? And that’s what you’re living out of, so how about rather than acting out of it, listen to it and take a look at it?’” From “Just Shut Up,” Tricycle.org

Consider the weight of your addiction when it was at its heaviest. Devastating. An attachment, an addiction that was overwhelming and all-consuming. Remember the rationales and justifications you used in maintaining your deadly addiction? First you were attached mentally to escaping reality, which led to a physical attachment; an addiction that was tormenting and dark.

Now consider the distance you have come and the wonderful strides you have made. Let that realization of what is possible, of what you have accomplished and are capable of, be the inspiration to begin dropping your attachments to the “other” addictions in your life that weigh you down and diminish your life essence. Can you feel how much you receive by letting go, by releasing the need to control, and instead simply being content? You still deal with all the different facets of life, but with a lighter touch, and imbued with a spiritual connection. To live fully is to renounce the superficial attachments that hinder you.

Becoming a person of value is more important than being a “success.” Success is a judgement, often associated with material things or position. Value is a quality of our spiritual and human connection, embracing principles and usefulness. 

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for

May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com