So many things are being said about attachment being bad and how we should not get attached to anything. Because of these teachings and misunderstandings, and because of the pain that people go through with attachment, there are a lot of questions and hesitation within people.
These teachings of detachment and being desire-less have come because of the fear of entanglement. Entanglement always creates pain and suffering within a person. So, somebody gave this foolish solution–be detached. This means that according to them, the solution for life is to avoid life. If someone want to avoid life, they must die; it is very simple. But being alive here and wanting to die–and not dying, is a big torture.
If you want to live, you need involvement. People think spirituality means you should drop your family. By dropping someone, you will not become spiritual. You may not be fully aware of it, but in so many ways your defence mechanisms and survival techniques are slowly trying to shift your attachment to your ideologies, philosophies, likes, dislikes, and your emotions, which then grow to things around you. This is the real accumulation, the biggest attachment–your personality. And this is what you need to throw; not your wife, child, bank balance or something else.
The deepest attachment
When you are young, you seek physical freedom. When you become 35 or 40 years of age, you start saying, “Oh that was foolish. Emotions and what we share between us is important.” As you get older, you will see these emotions are too entangling and you will not like that. You will want to shift your attachment to God.
It must be understood that your deepest sense of attachment is not to your money, house, wife or child. Your deepest sense of attachment is to your own thought and emotion. You may feel your wife, job, and child are dear to you, but please see, when your wife, child or the situations around you really go against the way you think and feel, you will drop all of them. You will not drop your ways of thinking and feeling, but you will drop the other person because the other person has stopped fitting into your life. They are in your life only because they have made the compromise to agree with whatever you think and feel.
You are just using someone as a means or as a victim. It is because you are deeply attached to your body that you get attached to somebody. If you are not attached to your own body, you can be deeply involved but unattached. So, you do not have to work on your attachments with people around you. You really need to work with your attachment to your own body. If you release yourself from this, you are free from everything.
Teachings that say ‘do not get attached’ are not going to work. Unless experientially it is clearly within you that, ‘this body is not me,’ there is no way you can become unattached from the body.
Indra the pig!
There is a nice story about this. Once, Indra, the king of all gods, came to earth seeking pleasure. He chose the form of a pig because generally, in terms of physical pleasure, the form of a pig is considered best. He found himself a beautiful female pig, married her and produced dozens of piglets with her. Over time, he got very deeply involved and attached to them.
The gods waited patiently in heaven thinking it was a short pleasure trip but when Indra did not return for a long time, they came down and saw this whole pig-business in progress. They tried to reason with him to give up the pig’s life and return to the heaven. But Indra was so deeply involved and attached to all this, he just grunted and left!
The gods then decided to kill one piglet hoping that the tragedy would make Indra realise his true nature and return. But, suppose you have five children, and you suddenly lose one, you will cling to the remaining four harder. That is the way. If you lose one more you cling to the remaining three even harder, isn’t it? For every piglet killed, Indra clung to the remaining ones harder. Eventually, the gods killed all the piglets.
If you can truly get attached to another being, it is wonderful and fantastic but when you get attached to your own body you become so limited.
But Indra got busy producing more children. Then the gods thought that Indra’s real attachment was his wife so they killed her. Now he was greatly distressed. Soon, his pig friends and relatives suggested he take another wife. And the whole pig-business started again.
The gods were now completely at a loss with this and Narada, the wise sage who was passing by and happened to see all this said, “Why did you kill his wife and kids? His attachment is to his body. Destroy the body”. So, the gods cut his body into two halves and Indra came out and said, “What the hell am I doing here?” and returned to heaven.
The bondage with the body is deep. That is the source of all attachments. If you can truly get attached to another being, it is wonderful and fantastic but when you get attached to your own body you become so limited. So, you do not have to go on searching for non-attachment somewhere else or distancing this and that in your life. You simply need to know how to distance yourself from your own body. Yoga is a whole complete science, a tool and technology to bring about this sense of separation and freedom from the accumulation of the body.
Absolute attachment is the key
Whether you like it or not, in your breath, body and being, you are in an inseparable attachment with the whole. So do not hesitate about attachment; do not listen to all those teachings about detachment. Right now, with all these teachings that attachment is bad, you are hesitating to be involved. Freedom will not come because you make yourself exclusive. Freedom comes only by including everything as a part of yourself. If you include everything as a part of yourself, then you will have no identity left; that is yoga.
Yoga means attachment. When you get attached to the whole Existence, you are in yoga. Or, when you realise how inseparably you are attached with the Existence, that is your Vishwaroopa–Universality. Let your attachment be indiscriminate; it will lead to bliss. It is selective, prejudiced attachment that causes pain.
Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic and founder of Isha Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to addressing all aspects of human wellbeing through yoga programmes, and social and environmental initiatives.