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What is attachment?

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What is attachment?  by Atman Nityananda / blog

What is attachment? 

“Know thou Rajas to be of the nature of passion, the source of thirst (for sensual enjoyment) and attachment; it binds fast, O Arjuna, the embodied one by attachment to action” 
~ Bhagavad Gita Ch.XIV V.7

“Attachment is due to infatuation. It is the offspring of the quality of Rajas. Detachment is born of Sattva. Attachment is born of ignorance, selfishness and passion and brings with it death; detachment is wisdom and brings with it freedom.” 
~ Swami Sivananda

Attachment’s aspects

Attachment implies an emotional bond with the object of attachment and also dependence on it.

That is why attachment is the cause of fear of changing or losing something to which we are attached, as well as anger against the cause of not getting or losing the object of attachment, as well as disappointment, depression, grief, despair of not getting or losing the object of attachment.

My mind is attached to sense objects, means that my mind is attracted by the sense objects and is occupied mostly by thoughts about sense objects (including persons). Our egoic self (which has as its seat in the manas* and senses) schemes and plans what will get or what will experience if gets this or that object. Thinks about the qualities of objects, their frame, colour, taste etc. It thinks and plans how to obtain the objects that considers beneficial for its comfort, fame, pleasure and happiness.

When a man thinks of the objects, attachment to them arises; from attachment desire is born; from desire anger arises. From anger comes delusion; from delusion the loss of memory; from loss of memory the destruction of discrimination; from the destruction of discrimination he perishes.”
~ Bhagavad Gita Ch.II V.62.63  

“That pleasure which arises from the contact of the sense-organs with the objects, which is at first like nectar and in the end like poison—that is declared to be Rajasic.”
~ Bhagavad Gita Ch.XVIII V.38  

By thinking about the sense objects identification and attachment are born along with fascination, from fascination, desire is born and from desire like-dislike, attraction-aversion, anger, fear and depression and all other egoic tendencies are born.

Because of desire and anger mainly, but also by all other egoic tendencies (fear, jealousy, greed, pride, vanity, arrogance, lasciviousness etc.) as well, our intelligence is obscured and clouded and thus we fail to discriminate between the Self and the non-self, the true and the false, the right and wrong.

That by which one incorrectly understands Dharma and Adharma, and also what ought to be done and what ought not to be done—that intellect, O Arjuna, is Rajasic”

Commentary of Swami Sivananda: That which is ordained in the scriptures is Dharma. That which hurls you into the abyss of ignorance is Adharma. The Rajasic intellect is not able to distinguish between righteous and unrighteous actions.

~ Bhagavad Gita Ch.XVIII V.31

My mind is attached to an object or a person means that my happiness, security, worthiness and well-being is depended on this object or person. It means that I cannot live without this object without suffering. Even to think that I could lose this object or this person that I am attached, makes me suffer.

“Passionate, desiring to obtain the rewards of actions, cruel, greedy, impure, moved by joy and sorrow, such an agent is said to be Rajasic.”
~ Bhagavad Gita Ch.XVIII V.26

In brief attachment or being attached consists of:

  • Clinging and identifying with something (psychological or external)
  • Hold on to something and our attention, thoughts, emotions and behaviour are occupied by this
  • Emotional bond and dependency on something
  • Desire to have it, maintain it, not to lose it, to experience it again and again
  • Being afraid of not having it, losing it, or will abandon us,
  • Believing or imagining that we cannot live without it (strong attachment)
  • Attachment is also related to My-ness (this or that is mine); we attach to the objects we are identified with and are part of our identity (body, spouse, house, country, nationality, etc.).
  • Attachment related to pleasures results in addiction (sex, food, drinks, smoking, drugs, etc.)

The fundamental attachments are with our body and mind (opinions, beliefs, concepts, ideas, emotions, etc.). Most people on earth are attached to their bodies and their minds and suffer due to these attachments.

Attachments are related to pleasure, comfort, happiness, security, prestige, fame, self-esteem and self-image.

We become attached to things that give us pleasure, and comfort, make us feel happy, and make us feel secure, worthy, accepted, and special. We develop aversion about things or persons that make us experience pain, make us feel insecure, uncomfortable, unworthy, inferior, rejected etc.

Attachment is related to the desire’s mechanism and ego. The attachment is as strong as our desire and our ego are. 

To be free from attachments we must be free from desire and ego. As long as desire exists in us, will exist ego and attachments as well.

The root cause of attachments and desires is the ignorance of our true nature. We can free ourselves from ego, desires and attachments by meditating constantly in our essence within. Profound constant meditation is possible only for a pure sattvic mind.

 “He who is free from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with firmness and enthusiasm and unaffected by success or failure, is called Sattvic.” 
~ Bhagavad Gita Ch.XVIII V.26

Freedom from attachment

We need a pure sattvic mind, the right knowledge about the nature of our true Self, to contemplate and reflect on what we have learned about the Self and then meditate constantly until our mind merges in the Self. When this will happen, our ego, desires and attachments which already have been made weak by prolonged spiritual sadhana and austerities will be dissolved totally and forever. Free from ego, attachments and desires we will be free from all suffering and will enjoy, the peace, freedom and bliss of our eternal Self.

ANTAHKARANA – MIND / The fourfold internal organ
The Antahkarana or Mind is made of the five subtle elements and by nature is sattvic (read about gunas). But due to ignorance of our true nature and the identification with the objects of senses and the development of the ego our mind is ‘contaminated’ by the rajas and tamas gunas. The purpose of spiritual practice is to weed out the rajas and tamas gunas from the mind and bring it back to its sattvic state. 

ANTAHKARANA has four aspects:

  1.     Manas (mind)
  2.     Buddhi (Intellect, Intelligence)
  3.     Ahamkara (Ego, the illusory identity)
  4.     Chita-Chitta (subconscious, memory, general field of the mind).

3. Manas (The external mind)
It has various functions. It makes really a great job. Coordinates the operation of the five senses of knowledge with the five senses of action. Coordinates the volitional body movements with the five senses. With the manas are related, the ego, the lower emotions and the mechanical thinking. The manas  brings through the senses the sensory information from the world in the buddhi (intellect-intelligence) and consciousness, and executes the commands that gets from the buddhi (intellect). Unfortunately due to the lower or vital ego the manas dysfunctions; operates under the unconscious mechanical impulses of the lower ego. This is the main cause of our imbalances (physical, emotional.mental, intellectual), disequilibrium, diseases and suffering.The purpose of spiritual practice in relation with the manas is to purify the mind (manas), and put it under the control and service of the intelligence (buddhi) and the Consciousness. The main ways to purify the mind is to control the senses, to be detached from the manas, to feed the manas with sattvic impressions, eat sattvic food, to keep sattvic relations and do spiritual practices, like japa nama, japa mantra, kirtan, concentration, meditation, pranayama etc.

Free from ego, attachments and desires we will be free from all suffering and will enjoy, the peace, freedom and bliss of our eternal Self!

🌺 Peace, Love, Harmony