The Art Of Non-Attachment

The human mind is a powerful tool that can create both joy and suffering. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that our happiness is dependent on external circumstances such as material possessions, relationships, or achievements. In other words, how the world looks outside of us. 

However, the Stoics argue that all of our suffering – the veiling of our innate happiness – comes primarily from our attachments. Namely, to things, thoughts, feelings, desires, and other people. The things within ourselves.

Attachment is the act of clinging to or identifying with something, and it can take many forms. We may become attached to a particular outcome or expectation, a person or relationship, a material possession, a belief or idea, or even our own mind-created identity. Attachment is a form of investment where we place our happiness and identity in something external, and when that thing is threatened, we suffer.

For example, if we are attached to a particular outcome or expectation, we may become anxious or disappointed when things don’t go as planned. If we are attached to material possessions, we may feel anxious about losing them or not being able to acquire more.

If we are attached to the idea that we have of ourselves, when someone threatens this ‘idea’, we feel offended or infuriated or hurt. This idea we have of ourselves that can seemingly be attacked, offended, or hurt is the ego – a false sense of self created by another attachment, the attachment to our own thoughts.

If you aren’t sure what your attachments are, sit down quietly and see what thoughts arise in the next few minutes. It won’t take you long to discover what your mind, and often your identity, is attached to.  

Non-attachment is the art of seeing attachment in action, and letting go of it to become free from its tight grip. The ego creates the fear and idea that non-attachment is about becoming indifferent or apathetic to life – and that is no way to live! However, this is just a mask to perpetuate itself. 

In fact, living in non-attachment creates the opposite effect. Your relationships and work are free to fully express themselves as your happiness no longer depends on the outcome of either. When you aren’t attached to goals, achievements, people, work, paradoxically, these areas begin to thrive on their own very naturally because they are imbued with a sense of freedom, rather than imbued with a sense of lack and need for fulfilment. 

The ego will always prefer the prison that it is used to than to be free. Why? Because freedom from attachment is the end of the ego. 

Non-attachment takes no effort to do, rather it is an undoing of all of the attachments you have already built up. The only effort required to cultivate non-attachment is to stay vigilant and to watch, but not get involved with, your attachments as they appear in everyday life.  

Attachments can only survive in the dark, they only need to be expelled with your awareness of them.