Non-attachment to fleeting material things is a source of happiness. Non-attachment can also help us to discover and deeper and more meaningful sense of fulfillment.
I was inspired to write this post, after a small incident about a dint in my car. I called the post the honest Buddhist, (at Tejvan.co.uk) because I was touched by a fellow seekers sincerity and honesty. It was also a reminder than non-attachment gives a sense of freedom and happiness.
What is non-attachment?
Non-attachment means we do not cling to things of this world – it means we do not hold onto opinions, material objects, and people with a sense of personal possession and expectations.
Non-attachment means we love the source of life, but we also acknowledge everything in this world passes away.
Non-attachment means we try to do our best, but without expectation of result or reward.
Non-attachment and indifference
There is a big difference between non-attachment and indifference. Indifference means we don’t care and we ignore what is going on in the world. Non-attachment can involve a pure form of love, where we give and care. But, the difference is that we give this love, compassion and concern, without expecting a certain outcome and reward.
Non-attachment and love
“Detachment and not possession should be the bridge between you and the object of your love. Spiritual detachment intensifies the seeking of our hearts, purifies the vibrations of our bodies, transforms the ignorance of our consciousness into knowledge.”
– Sri Chinmoy [source]
If we love with attachment, we can easily become frustrated. Suppose we offer love, but the person doesn’t behave in the way we expect – then we become frustrated and even angry. However, if it is an unconditional love, a love without attachment, we can never be disappointed, because we love the real, the soul in other people. If outwardly, they disappoint, it doesn’t matter, because the divine love is its own reward.
Non-attachment and relationships
Non-attachment doesn’t mean we avoid relationships with other people. It means we develop relationships, but we are not limited by outer expectations. People come and go throughout her life. We may know people for many, many years, but ultimately everything must pass, at least in the outer sense. However, if we have faith in the soul, in the inner life, we know that a relationship that ends in this lifetime, is not necessarily the end.
Non-attachment and death
The greatest attachment is to our own body. We want to cling on to the body, but life and death are all part of the great cycle of evolution. The poet in Rumi speaks:
“A stone I died and rose again a plant;
A plant I died and rose an animal; I died an animal and was born a man.”
Rumi reminds us not to be attached; the soul is in evolution, if we let go of what we currently have, we can become aware of a deeper reality and a sense of who we really are.
“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
If we try to hold on to what we have, we slow down our evolution. Our current state of being is not giving us full illumination, but there is a greater consciousness to attain. To grow, we also have to let go our past and current limitations. When we were a child, we were attached to many things – teddy bear, small bike. But, now we are adult, we know these things no longer give a fulfillment we are looking for.
Non-attachment and freedom
“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
Non-attachment to the opinions of the world gives us a great sense of freedom and joy. If we live trying to please others, if we are attached to the praise of other people, we will not be true to our real life’s purpose. If we are non-attached to conformity, our real personality will come to the fore, and ultimately, this is more attractive to our current limited sense of self.
If we are a victim to our own desires and addictions, we don’t have real freedom. Instead substances and opinions influence the way we live. If we can gain non-attachment, we no longer act out of compulsion, but according to our inner being’s deepest aspiration.
“By non-attachment, you overcome and deny the power of anything to act upon you.”
– Swami Vivekananda
The path to non-attachment
Non-attachment is difficult to attain. We shouldn’t expect to instantly gain non-attachment – nor should we try to attain non-attachment through suppression.
But, we can start to lose our attachment to harmful habits. Then we can start to lose our sense of attachment to material objects that we don’t need. In relationships with other people, we will seek to gain more non-attachment, not through less concern, but seeking to love the real, and be less attached to what we get back in return.
The path to non-attachment should always be a positive one. For example, if we can experience inner peace in meditation, then we will definitely find it easier to give up attachment to passing desires.
Also, don’t forget some of our most powerful attachments may be our own opinions. If we are rigid in our views and opinions, then we will invariably be frustrated. If we are less attached, we can be like a tree who bends in the wind, staying strong and unmoved from the buffets of life.