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How to get rid of attachments? || Acharya Prashant (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
8 min
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Acharya Prashant (AP): Nothing comes on its own to cling to anybody. We go to things. We go to things, thoughts, places, people, and then clutch them – that's attachment. So, why do we want to cling to various objects?

Questioner (Q): We feel secure.

AP: It's's nice; this is nice only when this is cold, and then I will keep cupping it. Gripping it. This is what is..

Q: Attachment !

AP: Attachment. But two things happen here: One, there is somebody for whom it is really important to feel warm. And obviously, that somebody is going to hold and grip. That somebody is the body. Are your interests really the same as the interests of the body? Even when you do stuff that the body demands, is it really the best investment of your time? It is a necessary burden, right? Okay, I ask you, if you could really do without having to spend time on eating, wouldn't you take that?

You would never experience hunger, and you would never experience the urge to have taste–if this is guaranteed–would you still want to invest your time cooking, spending on meals, investing time in eating? Eating is the body's demand that you have to fulfill, because otherwise it will collapse; it is something necessary, but it is not fundamental to your joy. Or, is it? There are so many things related to the body that we bear, and we cater to. If it was somehow possible to do away with those things, wouldn't we take the option?

I often ask, even as you sit here, your body fidgets. It may even feel sleepy. Now you do not want to fall asleep and roll over, but the body is saying… You want to catch a flight; the body refuses to get up from the bed. Don't you see that your interests and the body are not quite aligned? They are not one. They are necessarily divergent.

You want fulfillment; the body wants relaxation–and relaxation not of the inner kind, relaxation simply of the bones and the muscles. The body will have its attachments. They need not be your attachments. When they become your attachments, you will be disillusioned. The first mistake has already been made. The first mistake is: wrong identification, and the punishment will follow. What would be the punishment? That which satisfies the body is not designed to satisfy you.

The body and the mental tendencies are clinging to something–and it might often be alright if the body clamors for something–but, if you start seeking satisfaction in what the body wants, you will remain dissatisfied. Attachment, therefore, is both a mistake and its punishment.

You have been attached to this and that since long. There have been reasons why you have been attached to this and that. Have those reasons ever been validated? You attach to something for a purpose. Has that purpose ever been met? And even if it appears to have been met, what is the cost? Attachment won't go away for moral reasons. You simply have to see that it is not serving your interests; you will have to see that it is not wise; you will have to see that attachment is a bad investment.

It is not fetching you the returns that will fulfill you. Next time, that urge to just go and cling to someone arises, ask yourself, “Is this the first time?” “All right. I'll give it one more chance, but let the conditions be clear: I'll go and cling, but the clinging must definitely give me this, this, and this. And if such results are not obtained, then I'll not let the clinging dictate me after today.”

We are so particular about actions and results, no? We do not do anything without enquiring ten times about the prospective results. Somebody wants to sell you something, you ask him ten times, “But what will I get from it? How long will this last?” Before you buy a share in the stock market, you try to speculate about the returns – 8%? 10%? 15%?

Attachment is such a huge investment, why don't you inquire about the returns? Nobody likes feeling stupid. Use this tendency of ours, use this egoistic tendency of ours, in your favor. Nobody likes to look stupid in her own eyes. We all want to assume that we are smart and clever. So come face to face with the ROI on attachment, and that will show you how smart and clever you have really been. And you don't want to look stupid in your own eyes; you'll have to withdraw the investment. On all the money that you invest in the stock market, you proudly declare that you earn at least 15%. You are the champion. People look up to you – “Look at him! Whatever he puts his finger on, turns into gold. He's the master investor!” That's about your life in the markets. What about your personal life? Where are you investing in your personal life? Look at your relationships; look at your habits and tendencies; look at your attachments; see where you are investing yourself.

Now, here is the principle: When you invest in the world, the return will be, and has to be, material. When you invest in a relationship, the return has to be inner fulfillment.

So the ROI has to be calculated on the right denominator. When you calculate your investment returns from property, or gold, then the denominator is: Money. And when you calculate your returns, from your investment in relationships, then the denominator is: Fulfillment. “I wanted completion. I wanted contentment.”– that is the denominator. “And what did I get?”– that is the numerator. Are all the things, and people, and ideas you are attached to, bringing you fulfillment? Are they? If they are, then continue to remain attached. If they aren't..

Q1: Very objective! Very objective.

Q2: In a sense, you are saying body and mind have their own needs and desires. Mind–if it's panicking, it wants relaxation; body–if it is thirsty, it wants water. But attaching myself to body-mind needs and desire, is where the problem is. Allow body and mind to have their own thing, whatever they seek, but I am not going to seek…

AP: Do not even say body and mind. Just say body. Mind is– when you are attached to the body; identified with the body. Otherwise, there is no mind.

Q2: ..and allow the body to have its own thing. It can have. But I am not going to attach my stuff, or seek my stuff from the body's thing.

AP: Your kid is running after the ball, and he's having good fun. Running after the ball is good for the..

Q2: For the kid.

AP: For the kid! Now, being attached to the kid, you get attached to the ball as well. The kid was running after the ball, and now you too are running after the ball. The kid is the– body; the ball is the stuff that the– body likes.

You are the father of the body. Being the father of the body, you are attached to the body; so the body is running after the ball, and you too are running after the ball. Kid running after the ball is cute. You running after the ball is..

Q: Not so cute!

AP: Not quite cute. Kid doing all kinds of silly things on the street is good fun even for the passersby. If you start doing what the kid is doing, somebody might call the police.

Q: As a father, I should just support.

AP: Keep watching! What does the father do when the kid is playing? He just watches.

Q: He is not harming himself; the kid is fine.

AP: And if the father is really watching, under his watchful eyes, the kid is unlikely to harm himself. The kid is much more likely to harm himself when the father is not watching.

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