I’d like to have a fresh new shiny topic to write on this week, but the truth is I’ve still been thinking a lot about attachment and detachment.
Thanks to the reflection prompted by the excellent comments on the last post, I’ve gained a bit more perspective on what detachment is, and what it isn’t.
Now, when I suffer, I’ll try to ask myself how I am avoiding the present by sticking to the past.
Kathryn explained in her comment:
Forging soul, living connected to your inner being is about an awareness. It is about seeing each moment that you are experiencing as simply that…a moment.
And every moment passes. Every moment teaches us something. Every moment is an experience that helps our souls to grow.
Detachment doesn’t have to mean that we become numb, or emotionally disconnected, it, to me, is about a my point of clarity. It is about understanding that I can indeed walk through this world with an open heart, unafraid of experiencing pain, because even if I do cross paths with it, or a less than pleasant experience, it too will pass.
That is so beautiful…you’d never know that Kathryn has a wonderful blog of her own, where she hones the ability to write with such clarity and feeling, would you?
And Fran, another blogger-friend, gently warned me in her comment that the detachment I am so wary of is a bit of a straw man; the real detachment spoken of by the ancients was more subtle and deep:
You can still feel compassion, love, etc. But there is a ‘knowing’ that this is what it is in the moment.
I could have quoted the Tao Te Ching to present such insights. But isn’t it wonderful to have living wisdom to draw from? How rich our lives are when we have friends that heap treasures on us every day…
I’m finding that for me, the way to get at this is not so much by thinking of attachment and detachment separately, but to think in terms of stickiness, and how to overcome it.
By default, when I am not paying attention to it, my mind is pretty sticky.
I latch on to the good experiences so that when the time comes for them to pass, they have to rip a part of me off to get free. Thus wounded, I keep holding on to the empty air. The result is the experience of emptiness and loss–I can’t embrace the next thing waiting to come into my life because my arms are wrapped firmly around a memory.
Negativity tends to stick to me too, and keep me from being able to welcome the next moment into my consciousness.
In both cases, what I am struggling with is letting go, not the general quality of being detached.
The way to flourish is not to live a life pervaded by detachment. Embrace each moment of experience. But cultivate a willingness to let go–both of things that seemed good, and those that seemed bad.
It seems like a paradox. Were you ever really attached if you can detach so easily? Just one of the many paradoxes of life, I suppose. Through practice, I believe you can be passionately involved in each passing moment, but at the same time learn to be less sticky; learn to let the flow go on inexorably, without so much resistance from your expectations and desires.
Time passes, things change. We can’t do anything about that. But by using attention and will to immerse ourselves in the present moment while letting go of the past, we can live with greater serenity.