If you are someone who is looking to evolve spiritually to achieve a greater peace and happiness in life, then you cannot avoid letting go of attachments.
What are attachments?
The word ‘attach’ literally means to join or fasten. Mentally, an attachment is a fondness or a liking for something or someone.
So, what’s wrong with having an attachment? A fondness or liking for something can’t be that bad, right?
Likes and Dislikes – The pairs of opposites
Well, this is only half of the picture. Actually, attachments come in pairs of opposites – likes and dislikes. A liking for something usually comes along with a dislike for the opposite of what you like.
For example, you like soft, soothing music and dislike hard rock and heavy metal. Whenever you hear hard rock on the radio, you immediately change the station. Your dislike of hard rock comes with a liking for the opposite, which in this case is the soothing music.
Now, the problem is that we don’t just do this with one thing but with everything we encounter.
When was the last time you eagerly reached into your fridge to look for something to eat that you didn’t like? Or couldn’t wait to speak to the person whom you know is a bore? If you had a choice between watching an episode of your favourite TV show and the Weather Channel, what would you rather watch?
Dependency is the problem
This dashing towards what we like and recoiling from what we dislike is how we find happiness from the world. It is our all-consuming preoccupation.
You may still be wondering, so what if we have likes and dislikes? If they may us happy, what’s wrong with having them?
You see, the challenge is not simply the like and dislikes, but the dependency that comes along with it. Our happiness depends on having things a certain way. This dependency creates desires, cravings and agitations in the mind that take away our peace. We can’t stay still until we move away from what we don’t want and get what we want.
The greater the intensity of the like and dislike, the greater will be our disappointment and sorrow in the absence of the thing we like; or anger and agitation in the presence of something that we dislike.
“If one can give up likes an dislikes, the world becomes double its space for us to move about. Then we do not go about chasing half the things and running away from the other half.” – Swami Chinmayananda
Peace of mind = Happiness
We all want to be happy. Peace of mind brings the greatest happiness.
We wrongly think that this thing or that person makes us happy. Things, people and circumstances cannot make us happy.
However, things, people and circumstances that are in alignment with our likes and dislikes end the agitation in the mind and bring a (temporary) peace.
In other words, if we get what we want and don’t get what we don’t want, we’re happy. Simple.
Now think – What would happen if we didn’t have specific likes and dislikes?
Our happiness would not depend on having things and people a certain way. We wouldn’t get annoyed or irritated with someone’s mannerisms or words. We wouldn’t feel that the only way to be happy is to have a particular thing such as x amount of dollars in the bank, a house by the lake, a red convertible or even something trivial like matching cushions for the kitchen chairs.
Who would you rather be?
Start with the little things
I’ll be honest with you – I know I’d rather be the latter person but I’m still a long way from being there. However, I have started taking baby steps towards being more comfortable and accepting of things that aren’t important or necessary. That’s an easier place to start. Then I can move on to bigger things like being able to appreciate (and even celebrate) differing opinions, difficult people and circumstances.
The serenity prayer puts it beautifully: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Path to inner peace
To get to this stage of ease in life requires a keen self-awareness and consistent daily application of detaching from your personal likes and dislikes.
The prescription for inner peace is this_Avoid harbouring deep preferences and accept everything that comes as a blessing from a divine source for your own growth and ultimate happiness.
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