Freedom from Grasping and Attachment: Part 1 - Five Destructive Patterns


"When we cling to life, our world becomes a fearsome place full of demons. When we are willing to let go, our world transforms into a paradise full of wonders and Angels”.

- Meister Eckhart (German theologian, philosopher and mystic)

Moving through our life without clinging or grasping is a healing process and clearly the pathway to spiritual liberation. Releasing ourselves from the obstructions of attachment is what spiritual practice is all about. This is the transformation we seek and it is made possible for us through an active and consistent meditation practice.

To begin we must first ask ourselves these important and timely questions.

Are all worldly attachments and desires bad? Is there a healthy form of grasping or desire?

The answers we are seeking here may first surprise you and then, they may just make good sense.

We live in this world, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with finding happiness in it and enjoying all the wonders that this world has to offer us. But there is a middle path to enjoying the beauty and bounty of this life without the suffering that attachment and grasping give impetus to.

By finding the “Middle Way” as taught by the Buddha, we are able to realize a sense of balance, he clearly shows us the way here. His middle way perspective is a clear and grounded perspective that offers us happiness and personal fulfillment, while not allowing ourselves to get stuck in an unhealthy desire of attachment and continuous grasping. If we take the time to meditate and reflect on the subject, we will clearly see that it is always the extremes of desire that overwhelm the mind with illusion and bring on the kind of attachment and grasping that give impetus to personal suffering.

We live in a world that self perpetuates such illusion and perverts all sense of what true happiness is. Healthy desires are a byproduct of a balanced mind, free of egocentric attachments, this means having the self control to keep one's priorities in place, mindfully directing ones steps along the middle path.

For example, eating is an enjoyable experience while gluttony (living to eat) is destructive and brings on suffering. Falling in love and having a fulfilling relationship is a gift and a joy. On the other hand, obsession and uncontrollable desire for another person is destructive and a cause for suffering. Grasping at wealth for the sake of sheer greed and a lust for power is a destructive force, while working hard to have a decent and stable way of life is a balanced and healthy endeavor. We can desire a healthy meaningful way of life or we can desire a life fraught with attachment and grasping at destructive habits. We, each one of us, get to choose.

ATTACHMENT AND GRASPING IS THE LIFEBLOOD OF THE EGOCENTRIC SELF

Fear, greed, jealousy, and selfish desire are just some of the emotions the unchecked ego will continually cling to and grasp at in order to sustain its illusion of self. All that the ego clings to in the mundane world blurs our perceptions, limits our awareness, obstructs our path to liberation. Attachment and grasping prevent us from realizing who we really are and all we have to offer this life.The egocentric sense of self will grasp at anything in order to sustain and promote itself turning its world into a fearsome place full of demons.

The egocentric self does not get liberated from attachment, the egocentric self is what awareness gets liberated from. This is what the spiritual practice of meditation is all about. A spiritual practice helps us to transcend self with a deeper and expanded awareness that informs and illuminates self, allowing self to become a vehicle for awareness or spirit.

Love, compassion and wisdom are the qualities that arise innately within us through unfettered awareness, when we engage in the spiritual practice of meditation, we are allowing our world to turn into a wondrous place full of angels. As we realize our own innate goodness, we realize that same goodness in everyone else. Once again I quote Meister Eckhart:

“What a person takes in through contemplation, they give out in Love.”

The Destructive Patterns Of Attachment And Clinging

  1. Attachment and grasping or clinging disturb the mind. It unsettles the natural quality of mind. It creates craving, which breeds unhealthy desire.

  2. Unhealthy desire obscures the mind. One ceases to see things clearly and is easily led down the self-destructive path that leads to suffering.

  3. Attachment separates or divides the mind. It intensifies a feeling of distance between subject and object, between you and your world, which hinders your ability to experience life directly with an awakened mind.

  4. Clinging and grasping continuously at life makes us always feel incomplete, one looses a sense of wholeness or fulfillment. It engenders the feeling that something is always missing in life.

  5. "Self Grasping" & the equivalent "Self Cherishing" is the constructing, harboring and grasping of the mere concept of a sense of self which is the ego. This is the condition of clinging to a separate, localized sense of self. This sense of self is the illusion we seek to awaken from.

To live a life free of attachment, clinging and perpetual grasping is to live a truly happy life. Meditation aids us in examining the areas of our life where we cling and grasp. Doing so will enable us to clear away unhealthy desires so that we make room for what is good and beneficial for a happy healthy way of life.

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Sangha Without Borders is currently physically located in London, UK