Attachers and Attachments

Letting go of attachments is changing how we experience being human. We tend to form identities around our attachments. I have this, I don’t have that. I like this, I don’t like that. I am this way, I am not that way. This is good, that is bad. Although it is perfectly human to do this, a lot of our attachments lead to suffering. It is human to suffer.

However, when we recognize how our attachments are kind of arbitrary and it is possible to be ourselves with completely different thoughts and ideas, we can explore what it is that attaches and how those attachments influence the quality of our lives. As children we attach to ideas of Santa Clause. As we grow, we get different ideas about how presents get under Christmas trees. Letting go of attachments allows us to grow and to experience life from different perspectives.

In Zen our practice is to cut through our delusions and experience the world as it is. The biggest delusion is our sense of self. It is perfectly human to have such a delusion and our attachments reinforce it. The aim of practice is not to let go of attachments, but to get beyond ourselves. Seeing how we attach to things gives us insights into how we think about what we are. What attaches to what? It is not so much about the attachments as about the attachers.

On the way to seeing the world without a seer, thinking about how and what we attach to, beliefs, ideas, habits, feelings, people, and things and how those attachments create and ease suffering, we learn new ways of seeing and being. When we hold firm to each of our attachments, they get ripped from us one by one as the world does its thing and we suffer from each loss. Being able to let go is a valuable skill when we are human and so sticky and clingy.

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