Attachment – an overview

I should probably have started out my series on attachment as follows:

As I noted in my earlier posts in this series on attachment, the word attachment is used in psychology to denote the relationship between mother and child, between husband and wife, between close friends. All of those relationships are said to be positive, even though they will hurt when that person disappears.

I don’t think there is any arguing that. Though perhaps for the spiritually advanced other rules apply.

The term attachment is more widely applied in spiritual traditions though. There is also the attachment to thoughts and feelings. Holding a grudge for instance is a form of holding on to the hurt someone has caused you. This is partly efficient: it may prevent future disappointments. But it is also a way to keep negativity in your life.

Similarly pride at past accomplishments is a way of holding onto a past self. It keeps an image of yourself in tact, while possibly ignoring present faults and challenges.

This isn’t about blame. Who can blame a great politician who has retired from reminiscing about days gone by? I certainly won’t. And I’d love to hear his stories. But they are no longer that person. A spiritual teacher might tell them to focus on the here and now, instead of dwelling on the past. What can they contribute now? What is their place in life now? Their contribution may be as simple as not moaning too much about their hurts, or contributing to a fun atmosphere in the old people’s home.

The path of spiritual growth was never said to be an easy path, and for many it is irrelevant. But perhaps these insights can be a mirror through which we can see ourselves more clearly.

The other posts about attachment:

3 thoughts on “Attachment – an overview”

  1. Reading this reminds me of how we can be so attached to our past, we forget to live in the present. While memories are wonderful to have, and to create, it’s the process of living life (and creating more memories) that is the most important.

  2. I find I am more often attached to the future than the past; preoccupied with what may be, some day in the distant future. It’s ironic how such a preoccupation can actually prevent one from becoming all they can in that future.

  3. I also think that some of the great Seekers and Seers started their journey to spirituality after a great lost of a parent, love one, or friend. An example of this was Rumi’s transformation into a poet from a scholar.

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