Attachment and Moving On

In most eastern spiritual literature, attachment is talked about as a problem. I don’t exactly agree with that–I think that eliminating attachment is not necessary. What IS necessary is letting go when something is over. Being connected is not a problem. Staying in places that are no longer alive is a problem. Living with habitual tendencies that are no longer fulfilling your responsibilities or nourishing you is a problem.

The really sneaky thing about attachment is that there are so many attachments inside us that we don’t have a clue about until we grow a little. When we’re kids, we have one set of attachments. When we’re teenagers we have another. When we get into our twenties, a whole other set of attachments rolls out. That’s true for our whole lives. Attachment is going to come out and keep biting us.

Traditionally, the issue of attachment was dealt with by going into the mountains or a forest and just not dealing with people at all. Early Buddhism was about getting away from people, and much of Indian meditation is about solitary meditation. That was fine, when it was possible, but in our culture, if you’re going to go out into the forest and remove yourself from any contact with people you’re probably going to starve to death. That’s one of the reasons we have spiritual communities. Within the context of your interactions with human beings, you can become a very discriminating person, and that’s a positive thing.

So don’t think automatically that connectedness and attachment are bad things. Let’s think about not holding on. When it’s time to move on, you need to develop some awareness and ability to do so. You have to develop the strength to be able to simply move on when it’s time. That will deal with the whole issue of attachment.