Attachment and Non-Attachment

Excerpt from Finding Your Soul in the Spirituality Maze


How non-attached are you? Many who have read about the Buddhist goal of non-attachment really don't get it in terms of what is actually means. It really does mean non-attachment to: relationship, goals, people, jobs, success, pleasure, service, spirituality, leaders, sexual orientation, etc. To be unattached to home, family, sexuality and job is probably no big deal if you are in your last few incarnations, which are the lifetimes when we are most non-attached. I am not suggesting you try to emulate non-attachment, because that would be your neurotic ego trying to look more spiritually advanced.

I have found that it is useful to describe people following New Age paths by their specific attachments and non-attachments. The sticky traps we encounter, (be they thinking, psychological, or spiritual traps), are our attachments. Once we learn the lessons of that trap, we then become non-attached to that trap. Common attachments are: hopes, fears, upsets, goals, emotions, spiritual ideas and beliefs, dreams, desires, plans, drugs, unhealthy habits, pleasures, sex, service to others and gluey relationships. As we live our lives moment by moment, they often seem chaotic and without much pattern. However, if one adopts a wider view, then patterns of attachment and non-attachment become more visible. Two patterns regularly appear:

A cyclic pattern of attachment and non-attachment characterized by new attachments that develop because of dropping old attachments or achieving goals

An overall pattern of fewer and fewer attachments, which I shall call the Path of Non-Attachment

The cyclic pattern is with us throughout life. When we are babies, we have a major goal of being able to stand on our feet. We struggle and make many attempts at standing, frequently falling and without immediate success. We are much attached to the goal. When we finally accomplish that feat, we are bursting with pride and satisfaction. We quickly start taking for granted the achievement of standing upright. Things shift very rapidly so that our next goal of walking is soon there. The pattern with most attachments is that we pursue them until we learn what we need to learn. Then we become non-attached to them, developing some new attachment.

Book Excerpts

Real Love, Infatuation, & Conditional Love
Admiration Trap
"Sacred" Meditation Trap
Empty Mind Meditation
Is Your Meditation Valuable?
Attachment and Non-Attachment
The Path of Non-Attachment

© 2008 by Thayer White