Musings on the Path of Non-Attachment
Practicing sincere non-attachment makes me feel like a person with a gluten intolerance in a very bready/grainy world. Let me tell you why:
No one takes you seriously enough to acknowledge your food allergy (Just have it on a bun, quit being a baby!)
You’re not sure if they even understand that it’s an actual thing (Like, are you just cutting carbs or something?)
And everyone is on board until you go to a Olive Garden and do something crazy like order the salad sans croutons with the vinaigrette after of course being ridiculous enough to inquire as to whether it has gluten containing ingredients in it (Are you kidding me right now?!).
You’re somewhat embarrassed, but luckily (in the case of non-attachment, at least) it really doesn’t matter because you’re not really attached to the need for constant social validation, In fact, the only real validation you need is validation of self and that really grinds peoples gears, you selfish prick.
For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns --
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.
The path of non-attachment began for me as a way to stop the perpetual cycle of becoming attached to a lover, building up this grandiose idea of the other person, projecting all of my needs and desires onto them, before plummeting back down to reality at the rate of my fading passion. From there, becoming jaded and restless and, like an addict, seeking to repeat the thrilling cycle while consequently destroying my highly valued relationships along the way. So many questions plagued my feeble little socially-conditioned male primate mind: Why must I altogether forfeit the companionship of a lover every time I dare to explore the prospect of another? Why is love so selfish and insecure that it can’t be practiced freely and invited in abundantly? I mean, I value each lover, each friend, each person so uniquely that there is never any overlap of emotions, no capacity that can be filled, no single moment that can be duplicated, so why am I playing into this game? Our possessiveness over those who we love the most is, in my opinion, one of our greatest most unhealthy attachments in life and thus the best place to start in practicing the path of non-attachment. Should be easy enough..
Thus, non-attachment became my mantra, non-possessiveness, non-expectation, these became terms that I was perpetually spewing out like so much ejaculate into the fertile womb that is the universe. And somewhere one of those little spermatozoons took hold and the universe replied, “As you wish...” before setting into motion the epic romantic drama that preceded my downfall/initiation into the path of non-attachment. Soon everything I had ever dreamed of was laid out before me like an all you can eat buffet in the middle of the Sahara and you best believe I had worked up an appetite! Lord, I didn’t even grab a plate, I just stood there at the food bar grabbing from different trays with my bare hands, gluttonously stuffing my face with all of these delicacies, feasting on life, reveling in my attachments while reciting my mantra in between bites of the moistest angel foods cake and sips of authentic unicorn milk.
But let me tell you this, this universe is a master of drama, and what is any drama without the rising action that sets our poor naive protagonist up for his inevitable downfall? What better climax than the moment our faithful hero is struck down by the harsh realities of life, disintegrating his facade of impregnable wisdom? What better, more scandalous, initiation into a new path than a blindfolded naked backwards walk on hot coals through a cornfield? Because, let’s be honest, the only way a person with nothing that they ever even appreciated in the first place could ever understand the implications of the path of non-attachment would be for this individual to gain everything that he or she ideally desires only to have those treasures stripped away just as swiftly as they had been granted. “Oh Fortuna!” But as they say, a diamond is only a coal that did extremely well under pressure, and as I stand in the dazzling glory of who I am today, I can acknowledge that this was my soul being pressed into brilliance by the hands of the divine!
The grapes of my body can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit like grapes to his trampling
So my inmost heart can blaze and dance with joy.
Although the grapes go on weeping blood and sobbing
"I cannot bear any more anguish, any more cruelty"
The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears: "I am not working in ignorance
You can deny me if you want, you have every excuse,
But it is I who am the Master of this Work.
And when through my Passion you reach Perfection,
You will never be done praising my name."
My friends, when you’ve lost everything that you’ve held dear whether deserving of it or not, there are a couple of transformational shifts that may begin to take place, depending on the level of which you are able to hold yourself accountable:
Your misery forces you into a deeply contemplative and self-reflective state where you begin to question everything in your life starting with your perception of self which influences all other things: your ideas, your desires, your goals, your priorities, your choices, your path, your surroundings, your mistakes, your strengths, your weaknesses.
You are also able to recognize the impermanence of all things and thus the value of not becoming attached to the ever changing world around you and within you. You realize that all of the things you’ve begun to question are predominantly self created situations and fluid conceptualizations that are all relative to external conditions and your perception of them.
Non-attachment started off as a remedy to the self destructive cycle of my love life but quickly became a complete overhaul of my entire reality. Contrary to uninformed belief, the path of non-attachment runs deeper than just stripping away the power of a fluid reality over yourself. It’s not about choosing to be indifferent, it’s about choosing to view situations objectively thus not allowing them to influence your thoughts, moods, and overall course. It’s about seizing the rightful control over your own reality and being the driver of the vehicle not one of the many passengers (in the shape of external and physiological influences) taking turns at the wheel of your own life.
Non-attachment, for me, comes with an equal amount of trust that:
By excusing myself from the sway of external influences and ideas not my own and aligning with my highest self I will attract exactly what serves my highest purpose at the exact time it is needed.
Secondly, that which no longer serves me will fall away, make room for, and give energy to that which does serve me.
I’ve seen many people make the mistake of holding so tightly to their attachments that they delay their own progress, I’m guilty! People don’t know when to call it quits or acknowledge the expiration date of their attachments, that moment when something that once served you ceases to do so and adversely begins to hold you back from further progress. We hold so tightly to the jubilant memory of how things once were (or even worse, how we’d always wished they were) and foolishly attempt to re-create that experience. We’re so afraid of loss that we keep our love on life support, siphoning our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical energy into something that has lost the ability to serve us.
Soul drunk, body ruined, these two
sit helpless in a wrecked wagon.
Neither knows how to fix it.
And my heart, I'd say it was more
like a donkey sunk in a mudhole,
struggling and miring deeper.
But listen to me: for one moment,
quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms
around you. God.
A lot of times when I talk to these people holding on for dear life to that which strips them of their lifes essence, they almost always know in their hearts that they are working against their highest good and martyring themselves to uphold a facade they’ve created in their own minds. They are terrified of the unknown and so distrusting of their own instincts that they feel that their decision to take that leap of faith would lead them to their own ruin. “But what if this really is right for me and I find out after I’ve let it go?” To which I respond, “If something is truly right then it is unconditionally so.” And sometimes stepping back in order to gain perspective, exploring other avenues, and/or pausing to reflect a moment before resuming your initial path is the right thing to do. The universe will never punish you for following your heart and a person that would do so is not there to serve your highest good but only their selfish projected needs and/or desires of you.
“But love should never be easy,” they say. Oh but love should never fight you so, love should never be so evasive, so destructive, so uneasy, so conditional. Consider this, perhaps the way we’ve come to practice love in this society is just as dysfunctional as many of our other social practices and therefore in desperate need of honest non-attached reevaluation. Yes, there comes a time in all of our adult lives where, if we are wise, we must do a mental/spiritual house cleaning: We must question our ideologies, our aspirations, our motivations, our overall perspective and determine whether these are genuinely our own or if they’re a product of years of social conditioning or a product of the expectations projected onto us from our social circles and loved ones. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these ideas will become obsolete to you. In fact, some of these perspectives will find themselves becoming even more deeply rooted in your being because you’ll be able to finally identify exactly why you feel the way you do about something. But here's the kicker: Once you’ve deduced exactly what it is that you authentically believe, you must also leave the door open to constructive self-criticism, re-evaluation, and/or re-interpretation of this belief. Allow it to serve you to the best of its ability, allow it to evolve, and, if there comes a new perspective that may serve you better in your next phase of life, allow for the old beliefs to fall away. This, my friends, is non-attachment! It's just as important to avoid attaching yourself so rigidly to your own identity as it is to avoid the unhealthy attachment to people, places, and things!
So this is an appeal for you to become the scientist of your own reality! Don’t be stagnant in your own beliefs, imagine a scientist that clings to a once plausible theory that has since been disproven! If you only live once (which I'm not entirely convinced of, but I'm also not taking any chances) make this one time count!