Letting Go of Attachments

The essence of spirituality can be summed up in one term: non-clinging. Most human problems and every stumbling block along the path to spiritual fulfillment are the result of one thing: clinging to attachments. For example, rather than seeing anger as a simple temporary feeling that will pass, we cling to it and don’t let go. It can quickly consume our entire lives, blocking the way to any type of peace or enlightenment. We consider desire to be an internal desire that must be acted upon, rather than seeing it as a simple feeling or thought that will pass if we only let it go. All of our thoughts and reactions to feelings become serious burdens, and we wrap ourselves totally up in those things, in essence making them part of ourselves. When we can’t let go of these attachments, we become them.

In order to achieve spiritual freedom, you must let go of everything that you consider to be part of yourself, especially the negative things. One of the greatest benefits of non-clinging is that even early in your path, you will recognize partial results and accomplishments. Learning not to internally identify with just a few emotions or thoughts will allow you to experience a little bit of lightness of foot, more joy and freedom walking through your life. Non-clinging will soon become its own reward, when you realize the benefits it affords.

However, be careful not to confuse non-attachment with detachment. Non-attachment is actually the opposite of detachment, because you must consciously focus on a thought or emotion in order to release the attachment you have to it. Through non-attachment you can be free to love others, to be completely engaged in your life, your friends, your family, and your career. Through non-attachment you can detach yourself from the barriers in place that separate you from others and from the things that will complete you and fulfill you. By comparison, detachment serves to strengthen the cold, unfeeling barriers that separate you from your life. Read more about attachment.

If you feel hurt or slighted in some way, an entire army of emotions and negative thoughts may arise and persist for hours or even days. If you stop and observe your reactions to those thoughts, you will quickly see how you cling to them and how they affect your life. Through that observation you will be able to release the hold your reactions have on you by releasing your grip on them, and then they will go away all on their own. You will breathe easier, and you will feel free to respond or not respond do the situation that led to the thoughts in the first place. Your energies will be saved for more productive uses, such as seeking joy and nurturing mindfulness.

According to the Buddha, non-clinging is very valuable to all stages of achieving spiritual depth – the beginning, the middle, and the end of the path. The single price you have to pay to be fully unconditioned, open to the presence of God, is to give up all the things we are clinging to. We may actually catch a glimpse, if even for a moment, of the Divine power that can complete us – if we are able to relinquish our attachments to things that do not matter.

Everything in life eventually ends. Our bodies, and the bodies of people we love, grow older, grow ill, slowly age, and eventually die. All of our material possessions are ultimately consumed by time. By the same token, passing emotions and situations that cause them will be entirely forgotten eventually. However, equanimity opens up our minds to timelessness, where there is no death. Equanimity is created by our contact with the part of our soul that exists outside of the constraints of time. The peace that exists outside of the world of time helps us to embrace the world without the constraints of time.

Life itself can help you learn to release attachments and stop clinging. For example, when anger takes control of your mind, take the time to identify it, consider why you are angry, become aware of how much control it has over you, and simply let it go. Doing so can be extremely hard, and especially so when the anger is great, but firmly taking control and releasing your hold on the emotion is necessary if your goal is to free yourself and approach the Divine. Letting go of clinging to anger, fear, and greed is an essential part of respecting yourself. Non-clinging is a spiritual practice that allows you to relax the ties that drag you down, relax your attitude, and release your grip on the bottom in order to reach for the top.

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