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Truth Of Life: [2.2] The Issues - 10 - Non-Attachment

Published: 31.05.2008
Updated: 02.07.2015

The Art & Science Of Living

Chapter 2.

The Issues



[Senses perceive objects and we develop likes and dislikes and get attached or aversed. Likes and dislikes may be developed due to previous Karmas or basic mental propensities. Attachment leads to all the problems of life. Habits are formed due to continued practice of likes and dislikes, which come as vibrations from within. These habits can be changed through detachment to likes and dislikes. Liberation means the ability to change habits. Meditation can go to the root cause and develop the capacity to change ourselves.]

The senses are meant to perform their respective functions of perception. The existence of senses is not a problem. Eyes are meant for seeing, so seeing is not a problem. Those who move in the world of senses and yet, are able to successfully, keep the senses in harmony, free from attractions and aversions, will find peace and tranquillity. The problem arises only when we attach ourselves to the object seen and forget everything else. Attachment is not by senses, senses are just the means.

Ravishanker was a famous saint of Gujarat. He spent his life in public service. A gentleman said, "Sire! I am not able to give up liquor." The saint asked, "Brother, why can't you give up liquor?" He reiterated, "The liquor has caught me so strongly that I cannot give it up. Kindly give me some remedy." The saint said, "Come after two to four days, then I shall tell you the remedy." The gentleman came after four days. He found the saint, holding a pillar. The gentleman said, "Please come, I want to speak to you." The saint said, "I cannot come as the pillar is holding me." The gentleman said, "Sire, how can the pillar hold you?" The saint repeated, "I am sure that I cannot come outside." The gentleman again said, "Sire, can you not understand this simple thing that you are holding the pillar, the pillar is not holding you?" The saint retorted, "You are correct." The gentleman said, "If you let go, you will be relieved of the pillar." The saint immediately spread out his arms and he became free. Then he said, "Is it applicable to me only or to you also? You have caught the liquor, the liquor has not caught you." He understood the truth then. The object, which attaches you to another object, exists within. The object does not hold the man; the man holds the object. This is known as attachment. There is an impression of attachment within the man, which keeps holding everything. Whatever comes, it attaches itself to that. The senses are simply the means and they are not responsible for attachment at all. On appearance of a colour, sound and taste, the eyes, ears and tongue are meant to perceive the things as they are. That is their job. The impression of attachment within us is responsible for causing attachment. We have to seek the methodology, which teaches us to treat objects as objects only and not get attached to them. Is it possible for us to take the objects as objects and nothing else? Yes, it is possible. You should not get swayed by likes and dislikes of the objects and land yourselves in the vicious circle of attachment.

Attachment is very active and effective. As soon as you put something on the tongue, you say, "Oh! How tasty this is! or "How tasteless this is." Both the tastes are wedded to *t. The material in itself is neither tasty nor tasteless, then why are the adjectives like tasty and tasteless, good and bad associated with this? It is because, someone is existing within ourselves who segregates the things into good and bad, ugly and beautiful etc. We can enter into a new world provided we are able to know that entity which causes attachment in us towards the worldly objects and propensities. As long as we are unaware and make that impression ineffective, we cannot be free from the world of likes and dislikes, that is, the world of senses. On the contrary, where the material is just treated as material only, then that world is known as "the world beyond the senses". The man existing in this sensual world can never solve his problem. He is always entangled in the dualities of likes and dislikes of this world. Because of this perpetual bewilderment, he never gets liberation. Thus his happiness will be utterly transitory and fleeting. Today, if the food is tasty, he will be delighted and he will praise it. Tomorrow, if the food happens to be tasteless, then he will be enraged because he is deprived of the tasty food. The problem can be solved through the practice of detachment. Attachment can be transformed into detachment and asceticism can be constructed. Psychology recognises that man has some basic mental tendencies. There are approximately fourteen mental tendencies such as hunger, thirst, lust, quarrel etc. In the word of philosophy, man has the impression of action (karma). He is bound by action (karma). In the word of psychology, we are bound by basic mental propensities and in the word of philosophy; we are bound by the impression of our previous actions. Attachment is working through us and we are a slave to it. Then how can we think of a change? How to change man, society, its beliefs and lifestyle?

The doctrine of action (karma) believes that impressions of action (karma) can be changed. Psychologists say that basic mental inclinations can be purified. If the method of changing or purifying had not existed, then man would have remained as he is. No change would have occurred. As a matter of fact, we see that man changes. A good man may become bad and a bad one may turn into a good man. This is a big change.

Hunger is a basic mental inclination. In the word of work ethics (Karma Shastra), hunger is the beginning of a sensational action. A man who cannot bear hunger for a day, takes a vow to observe a fast for fifty days and fulfils his pledge because of the change. A highly scared man becomes free from fear just because of change. He may go to the graveyard and meditate there without any fear. Where did this change come from? A man, who cries out even at the prick of a tiny thorn, in the wake of change, remains calm and quiet even in the face of extreme pain. How did this transformation come about? Man is competent and capable enough to conquer hunger and fear. How can it take place? Attachment and detachment are the truths of life and both of them impress human life.

In fact, we have been living with attachment and have finally groomed it to form habit. Similarly, we can practise and cultivate detachment, which will eventually culminate as a habit. If you can dare change the cause and effect elements then you can develop new habits. We should strongly believe that old habits can be given up and new ones cultivated. Practice leads to the formation of a habit and the causal element is even before practice, this is the sequence. You cannot change a habit until your practice is coupled with it and you cannot cultivate practice unless the causal element changes. You have to go to the root cause and not its shadow. We preach categorically that if you want to give up the habit of smoking or drinking, then just leave it. These habits cannot be given up easily. An addicted person may falsely promise to do so several times and keep continuing his habits clandestinely because of bodily reactions. It becomes a Herculean task to change a habit. To change a habit you have to practice for long. On sincere resumption of practice, habit may change. First of all you have to care about the basic cause behind that practice.

The spiritual masters paid attention towards this and they found that the root cause was attachment. Unless the root cause of sensation is shattered, the habit cannot be changed. For example, if you tell a child, "Do not eat this thing, because this is harmful to your health," he may say, "All right, I shall not eat it." Since his taste for that thing is still alive, he will again eat it. Even grown up people do the same because of habit. Many people, who propose to observe a fast the next day, take heavy meals the previous day, thinking that they should have no feeling of hunger on the day of the fast. This shows that although fasting is done, yet non-attachment is not developed in them and attachment is still deep rooted. Habit cannot be changed as long as liking is linked to it. The rule of changing the habit is that you have to change the link of likes and dislikes from the undesired habit. As long as the cause is alive, the habit will be sustained. The important solution is non attachment to likes and dislikes. You have tasted sugar. Now even if you do not have sugar in your mouth you still remember its taste. If you have eaten a banana or mango in the season, even after the expiry of the season, you will still recollect its taste because your like and dislike is associated with its taste. The relevant question is whether your likes and dislikes are given up. Hardly anyone takes the same food everyday. Despite this, all the likes and dislikes associated with different products are active. Basically our mind is such that it keeps holding on to all the likes and dislikes firmly. So we don't have to change the habit directly but we have to change the driver of the habits. We have to change the entity, which is driving the habits. In fact, all habits are governed and controlled by the mind, so the mind has to be trained. In ancient language, impressions have to be changed. We have to cultivate non-attachment and likes and dislikes have to be shattered. When we see a product, e.g., a banana, then we are able to feel the sensation of attachment towards it. When it is available and a sensation or feeling is generated, it is clearly visible but the subtle thread of sensation between the banana and its appeal is invisible. It can only be realised. It is a thread of sensation. Non-attachment is the most important rule for changing a habit. In the state of non-attachment, there is no sensation of like and dislike towards the product, it is almost as if it was never experienced. This realisation itself leads to change. Non-attachment can be developed towards sensual gratification. This is possible only when attachment is replaced by detachment and non-attachment. On descendence of non-attachment, the whole problem is solved. Let anything come in front of him, he will not be greedy and attached. He will remain unshaken, unmoved and unperturbed. On various occasions in life, we may be tempted towards things. In the state of non-attachment, when we find some treasure lying on the road, the greed to pick it up does not arise in the mind. It is so because our mind has changed. With the change of causal element, the ideals also change. Nobody picks up an absurd thing. Man is inclined to take a thing which is useful to him. What is to be transformed, the habit or the causal element? Actually, we have to endeavour to change the causal element, which is the root cause of habit. We do not practise meditation merely for the sake of changing the habit.

Meditation does not change the habit directly. It only seems to us that the habit is changed due to meditation. It will be a frivolous gain if meditation only changed our habit. If the habit is changed but the cause still remains dormant, then the same habit will crop up just like the budding of trees during spring. We have to change that causal element which is nourishing the habit. We have to dive within ourselves. In the camps of Prekshadhyana, participants are taught to perceive the body from within. The body is merely the medium, we have to actually perceive within. We should learn to seek and perceive within, our mind should not always wander outside. We should not focus merely on the external body. The body is a combination of bones, blood, flesh, etc., then what do we perceive within the body? In body awareness, we have to perceive neither the bones, flesh, blood, marrow, nervous system nor the endocrine system but we have to perceive something else within. In fact, we have to perceive the one entity, which is driving our habits; getting the work done by us. That driving force are the vibrations and sensations inside our body. We have several vibrations, which are working through us and getting the work done by us. We have to perceive these vibrations, which are moving actively. These vibrations or the waves are active and regulate our activities. If someone tells a lie, a wave is working behind that, if someone commits a theft, it is because of the movement of the wave behind that theft. Someone murders because the wave activates itself. The waves existing in our body are comparable to the waves existing in an ocean. Our body is also like an ocean.

Medical science has observed that 80 per cent of our body consists of water. The body attempts to perceive those sensations and vibrations, which are driving our tendencies. That is a biochemical reaction, which generates different types of chemicals. Those chemicals are responsible for several changes and results. We have to perceive the vibrations and realise each vibration of the body separately, and feel them deeply within. We should understand the subtlety and essence of holding each vibration distinctly, then definitely we can transcend the senses and attain the condition of non-attachment. The transformation of sensual objects is possible only when we are able to hold the vibrations. "Oh! Why should I do this job? This job is being driven by the vibration. Why should I obey the vibration, then only detachment descends." When we grasp the play of senses and think that we should not become a slave to them, only then, detachment matures. This is not an impossible act.

A man came to a sanyasi and said, "I want to do sadhana. Please direct me to some Guru." The sanyasi said, "Go to the king of the town. You will get to learn sadhana from there." He said, "Why should I go to the king? If the king knew Sadhana then why did you become a sanyasi? The sanyasi said, "Do not argue unnecessarily, just go to the king." He went to the king. The king was engrossed in the duty of his kingdom. He told the king, "The sanyasi has directed me to you, kindly teach me the knowledge of sadhana." The king told him to sit down. He kept waiting the whole day. He saw that the king was busy in his activities throughout the whole day monitoring the administration. When the activity of the kingdom was over, the king said, "Come on, let us take a bath." He went along with the king and wondered why the sanyasi had directed him to the king? What kind of sadhana could he learn from him? As there was no alternative, he had to follow the king. A river was flowing behind the palace. Both of them stepped into the river. Suddenly they noticed that the king's palace had caught fire. He further observed that the king was unmoved. He told the king that his palace was on fire. He found the king still unmoved. He told the king that his palace was being engulfed by fire. The king responded, "No problem!" Though the king remains relaxed, the man ran towards the palace as he had forgotten his bag in it. He brought his bag from the burning palace and again told the king that the fire was advancing. The king remained undisturbed. Eventually the fire automatically got extinguished. He said, "O King! Why did you not pay any attention to the fire?" The king replied, "I used to pay attention earlier, now I have transcended my likes and dislikes and have become free from sensations and vibrations. A palace is a palace and I am entirely different from the palace. I am not the palace and also not attached to it. It is not mine, then why should I bother, whether it burns down or collapses. That gentleman grasped the essence of sadhana - that he was attached to his bag and had run to protect it from the fire whereas the king being non-attached, remained worriless, witnessing the ruthless fire, engulfing his palace. The gentleman thus learnt the gist of sadhana from the king.

The important doctrine of Prekshadhyana is to destroy the thread of likes and dislikes. For this, we have to delve within and hold those vibrations, which are emerging from the subtlest body and diffuse them. This is an important point of sadhana for changing ones habits and nature. If you wish to change the habit of anger then hold that wave which provokes your mind and excites the sensitive wave of anger. On holding that wave, you get elevated to the state of non-attachment and evolve into a state of detachment. Then you are blessed with the path of transformation of habit before you. We have two paths before us, the path of the world and the path of liberation. The path of the world is the practice of habits. The doctrine of liberation is the path of building the strength and capacity to change those habits. In fact, we are entangled in worldly ways and the vicious cycle of life and death. Overcoming this is liberation. We have a tendency to ignore what is in front of us and keep thinking or dreaming about the difficult objects. We should be more systematic and organised in our ascendance step by step to achieve our coveted and cherished goal in life.

We should understand the fact that while the worldly path is confined within the periphery of habits, the path of liberation ensures attainment of power to change these habits.

The process of Prekshadhyana is the methodology of cutting the thread of sensations and vibrations. We should cultivate this practice to achieve the capacity to change ourselves.

Edited by Muni Dulharaj
Copyright by Pathfinder Trust, New Delhi, India ©2001
Published by Sterling Publishers Pvt.Ltd., New Delhi, India
Translated by Pathfinder Trust, New Delhi, India
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Body
  3. Endocrine System
  4. Fasting
  5. Fear
  6. Greed
  7. Gujarat
  8. Guru
  9. Karma
  10. Karmas
  11. Meditation
  12. Prekshadhyana
  13. Sadhana
  14. Sanyasi
  15. Science
  16. Science Of Living
  17. Shastra
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