Question: I was listening to one of your recordings about Chesed (loving-kindness) and attachment. Attachment is so strong to us, like coffee. I don’t know how I’d do without coffee. My question is: I am so attached to my children – how would I decrease that attachment?
This is a hard question, as so many questions are. It can be answered from the intellect, but it is a matter of the heart. Words cannot explain it away.
The heart loves, and the best it can do is to learn balance.
We sing about the world as a narrow bridge, where it’s so easy to fall off on one side or the other. We learn how to balance ourselves.
Of course we’re attached to our children – who wouldn’t be? They arrive so helpless and so cute. We love them, we protect them, we invest ourselves in them. We pour so much into them. No wonder we’re attached. We can’t push that aside with words or intellect. And then, after we’ve given them everything, they grow up and leave us. We are glad to see their independence, but sad to see them go.
When they leave, we miss the place where we used to pour so much giving, so much attention. Now it’s gone.
What do your children want from you the most? Your attention. They crave attention. That’s really all they want from you.
It’s the same for all things. Even inanimate objects want your attention, which is really your love.
In giving your present-moment attention, you give love.
Giving your full attention enlivens both you and the object of your attention.
As humans we are designed to pour forth loving attention.
When we do this, we ourselves come alive and feel good.
Of course we are mirroring the loving attention of God.
When you give your attention, you are Present.
You are in this moment, not in the past or the future.
The present moment is flowing through. You cannot hold onto it, cannot attach to it.
Attachment happens when we bring our past or future to this present moment of attention.
In meditation you stay here now in the moment and just be. Even though past and future stories will appear.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you will get rid of your stories. We humans will always have our stories. The practice is to do our best not to grab the stories.
So there you are, giving your attention to something or someone, perhaps to your grown child. A story of your past or future gets pulled into this moment. Whether the story is happy or sad, desire or fear, it is still a story. It doesn’t necessarily pertain at all to this Present Moment of what’s happening now.
It could be a story of your shared history or a personality flaw you’ve always seen in them or an old guilt or regret you still hold onto in yourself. It could be a story of the future, a worry or a plan about your expectations for them or your relationship with them. None of it pertains to this fresh unique moment you spend with them right now. But there it is. You grab the story and hook it into this moment. This is the beginning of another attachment.
This is where we begin to say, “I need you, I love you, you mean the world to me, you are mine.” We get possessive. We think we possess them.
With each phrase of claiming this person for ourselves, we are binding them. Binding them tighter and tighter.
Eventually they don’t feel this binding as love. They feel it as control, and it is.
That’s attachment. We need them, we control them.
Our spiritual path is to learn balance. Learn to love without attachment, if we can. Easier said than done, of course.
We hope to love unconditionally.
The only way to do that is to fully allow people to be as they are.
We give our attention and love to whatever arises in this moment, without grabbing a positive story or a negative story about it.
The person offering unconditional love is the one everybody falls in love with. They are so easy to be with. Non-attached.
This is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Volume 5, Walking the Bridge: to Freedom and Light
(Thanks to Hippopx for this balanced heart image.)