Listen to the reading on Non-Attachment….


Welcome back to this week’s readings from “The Secret of the Yamas- A Spiritual Guide to Yoga” by John McAfee.  This post explores the Yama – Aparigraha [ translates from Sanskrit to English meaning non-attachment].  Quoting directly from McAfee’s text: “…What is this individuality that we are so desperate to perpetuate?  Who is the “I” that seeks continuity? What exactly are we attempting to make immortal?  Invariably, the answer to these questions is the “I” of the past, the “I” created in memory by the process of thinking.  It is the fragment of thought that divides the world into Me and Not-Me, Mine and Not-Mine.  It is the ego.  The ego craves immortality, and it is the ego that creates our prisons of continuity through the mechanisms of attachment…”  

I used to always wonder why McAfee’s book only dealt with just the 5 Yamas and did not also include the 5 Niyamas…but I am finally getting it…there’s more than enough to contemplate here.  I will say I have read this little book at least 20 times now and I still am learning about myself and how difficult it is to “fix” these mechanisms of change onto my being.  Best wishes for your practice for living more consciously.  Namaste


124 responses »

  1. The reading from “The Secret of the Yamas” talks about attachment. This is a very big problem in today’s society. However, after listening to this excerpt, I am not too sure if this is still a problem. After pondering this topic quite a bit, I feel like attachment is something that is very common and normal. Every person is attached to at least one thing. For most people, they are commonly attached to other people. For example, people who are in love are clearly attached to each other. Another example is nowadays, almost everybody is attached to their phones. I, myself can admit that I am attached to my phone. If you look around on a bus, plane, or train, everyone is on their phones. Either they are listening to music, texting, or simply surfing the web. There is an app for every possible subject now, so what is the need to use anything else? But like the reading discusses, can we really detach ourselves from everything? Are we willing to let go of what we cherish the most? And how will it be if we give away everything and we are just merely left with rags and no shoes? Will we be content? I believe that some sort of attachment is good. A person needs someone they can be attached to. I think this is perfectly healthy. For instance, a baby is attached to its mother. This is a very important and healthy relationship.
    But of course, the same as all the other Yamas, if one really wants to lessen or get rid of attachments, the only way is to discover each attachment and learn all that we can. We would have to find out the source of it and understand it completely before we can tackle it.

  2. When contemplating non-attachment, we are once again faced with the idea that any attempts at willing this experience into being will actually strengthen its opposition. This is because in order to try we need to use the ego, a transient aspect of our mental faculties that seeks immortality. However hard it tries, its efforts will never lead to the desired result. Still, most people live their lives under the belief that if they try hard enough they will achieve whatever the subject of their attachment may be at the time. In many cases one is attached to the idea of non-attachment itself, perhaps because they want to relieve themselves of burden. The truth remains that anything that feels like a burden in ones life can only be relinquished along with the ego.

    In my independent research I have found several sources that speak of ego-death, and many describe this experience as excruciatingly intense because it feels as though you are facing permanent obliteration. This is because we, as humans, tend to identify solely with the ego and lean much of our weight on individuality. We crave and seek experiences that hold promises of personal continuity because we feel oh so comfortable with constancy and the known. It is a shame that many sacrifice the chance to improve their inner environment by focusing on improving their external environment. By inner environment I mean the terrain that contains the mind as well, as the Self. This is not a fair trade, as the outside world will never satisfy you hearts need for love or bring you to self-realization.

    This endeavor that many call ‘enlightenment’, although it is getting more popular in the media, remains rare amongst people in my generation. By acknowledging this I am further inspired to continue on my journey, so that I may one day be able to share my own wisdom with those who are where I am now.

    – Conrad –

  3. There certainly is much to contemplate in McAfee’s analysis of complete asceticism. He believes that simply to relinquish all possessions and relationships in an attempt to throw off the shackles of attachment will not be successful. Living in the real world, it is impossible to completely detach from everything material and interpersonal, so this interpretation of the meaning of this Yama seems flawed. Since the problems coming from attachment feel so human, its causes must be inherently psychological, so I really connected with McAfee’s explanation of attachment as having to do with the human need for continuity. The fear of change of all kinds is deeply rooted in the human psyche and warps our feelings in indirect ways – we mistake it for fear of loss, fear of embarrassment, and fear of poverty. The author even shows that perhaps the greatest human fear, the fear of dying, has the same root, and is just an attachment to the continuity of our own existence. When I have lost friends, by gradual drifting apart rather than any particular fault of anyone’s, I have felt the weight of the “stones of my personal prison.” I could feel these pangs of loss due to my attachment to people and swear off of personal relationships forever, but as McAfee puts it, this would just be substituting a new attachment to my own isolation. And creating such a rift between myself and the world would realize the egotistical rift he discusses, the division between “Me and Not-Me”. It’s better to try to understand the attachments I create so that their power over me can hopefully be in some way diminished. I want to try to learn something about the nature of attachment and the reality of uncertainty, so I can fight the need for continuity, since reality is driven by constant change.

  4. The Yama of Non-attachment in’t as simple as the opposite of greed. Greed is an attachment to the idea of having more where non-attachment is the absence of a mental attachment to the material things one already has. In order to feel the severity of one’s attachment you must first let something of yours go never to be seen again. It is this act that will teach you about how and what you are personally attached to and therefore allow you to begin to work to truly subdue those feelings. Non-attachment becomes complicated because it itself can be come an idea that one is attached to and so it is important to realize this and not look down or feel superior to those who do not seek this as part of their personal lifestyle. The root of attachment is comfort in sameness or day to day schedules, in other words, if something were to disrupt or go missing from what your used to or what you expect, than you are likely to become frustrated and emotional. Our attachment to what makes us comfortable is a form of fear. Attachment is also a form of identifying oneself. One can identify with at certain style or political view for example. People do this because of the ego within us that craves immortality and the identity is something that may make that more permanent and defined especially in the minds of others.

    — Brianne Malloy
    Yoga Tools for Relaxation and Peace

  5. I agree with comment at the bottom of the post regarding “The Secret of the Yamas” having more than enough to contemplate! As this is my introduction to the idea of the yamas in the first place, I’m enjoying delving into them in detail in order to understand the depth and complexity of each idea. McAfee opens this discussion with presenting the idea of non-attachment, and how (almost like a warning at the beginning of each reading) he says that we cannot will non-attachment into existence, and when we try to cultivate this idea through effort, we become arrogant, and only trade what we were attached to previously for the attachment to the ideal of non-attachment. McAfee also discusses what attachment is, so that we may learn what non-attachment is — and discusses how we are not only attached to things like physical possessions and loved ones, but also ideals, political views, and personal identities. He also forces us to question ourselves, like why we are attached to anything at all, which he says stems from our craving of continuity and our fear of uncertainty. We become attached to what we are comfortable with, our security in our regular lives and routines. We wish to make ourselves continuous, although in life, McAfee states, continuity has no real or natural place. Our ideas of continuity are self-perpetuated, and merely illusions we create for ourselves to keep us from having to face this fear of the unknown. While I’m receptive to this idea right now, I understand how difficult this can be to accept — especially when facing illness, or death of a loved one, we wish to cling to this idea of continuity. We wish for ourselves and our loved ones to go on to an afterlife, perhaps, to somehow have permanence in the world, in our lives, and perhaps to be reunited again with what we know and what makes us feel secure. McAfee ends the article discussing how our ego prevents us from attaining immortality, though I am curious as to what he means by this, and I suppose will have to listen further in order to find out!

  6. This chapter of the Secret of the Yamas focused on non-attachment which was later clarified to an absence of greed. Greed was defined as the idea of more. The author then questions the exact nature of greed. Whether it is resolved when we get rid of things we cherish most or when we foster an indifference to the things around us as to not control us. The author then clarifies that we cannot will non-attachment into existence.
    We crave continuity and attach ourselves to the things close us, financial success, our morals and our beliefs. We feel secure in these regular actives and in the ‘known’. It’s the unknown that frightens us. The author then talks about immortality and what of our individuality we want to make immortal. Immortality cannot be achieved as long as the ego functions and can only happen when we offer full acceptance of its mystery.
    This chapter was interesting as it explored the ideas and fears of the unknown. Becoming more acceptant of the unknown and mysteries is a way to alleviate greed and attachments and open ourselves up more from our ‘personal prisons’ that we create for ourselves.

    -Max Pollio

  7. I love that this chapter was on the concept of non-attachment. Although there are a lot of material creations that seem to give us happiness in the short-term, in the long-term, they are often a source of stress and unhappiness. I find that a possession such as a cell phone, and the concept of being too connected, is a cause of anxiety for me. Knowing what every single person is saying and doing at every point throughout the day is overwhelming, and I could not even begin to count how many misunderstandings have developed from miscommunication over social media and cell phones. Materialism also causes greed, because we get spoiled and constantly look for something more. In reality, we do not need 90 percent of the things that we own. Possessing true inner peace is demonstrated by the ability to survive and find happiness in purity, and in nothing.

  8. As usual, McAffee presents us with a catch-22. It seems easy enough to say “I will give up all of my ‘stuff’ and live the life of an ascetic” but, McAffee tells us that if we do that we will then become dangerously attached to the very ideal of non-attachment! We cannot will non-attachment into nonexistence, McAffee says. We are attached to all kinds of things: other people, our homes, our jobs, our cars. The real question is why? Because we crave continuity. It makes us feel safe and secure and gives us an identity. We want to be immortal-we crave permanence for ourselves, and so we create an environment that feels permanent. Our egos feel that the idea of “me” will live on forever. But, by doing this, we cut ourselves off from the true flow of life. As with the other yamas, McAffee says that the way to achieve non-attachment, is to discover the source of our desire for attachment and to live fully in each moment.

  9. The chapter presented as the audio clip relates, at least to myself, to the ideas of greed and sexuality brought up in earlier chapters. Bringing to light the notion that, even removing all material possession, we are still existing with the attachment to these possessions, as well as the other things we become attached to inherently as humans. Though we can abstain from sexual activity or greed and envy towards others, we still have these notions existent within ourselves and must contemplate, accordingly, on how to exist above these human restrictions rather than within their constrains or without them. In the same way, attachment comes into mind, as it is something that is inherent in relationships, love, possessions, finances, and, as such, materials in the three dimensional form. Our ideas become things we are attached to, yet can be fluid. Our material possessions can be given away or taken from us, we will continue as such, but still knowingly have had an attachment to this in some way and can now either remove such an attachment, regain this attachment, or exist outside of this possessiveness. The chapter is hard to truly grasp, in this way. What is the better choice when searching for the inner positivity that exists within us? Even through practice, existing outside the constrains that are presented for us as humans becomes incredibly difficult, and the notion of becoming more than this becomes hard to grasp. Perhaps, though, it is only through meditation and proper communication with the universe that we truly evolve in the way that we so choose, existing outside of the things that restrict us. Quite the interesting read to think on further.

    • Your honesty is refreshing and if you choose to keep this in mind and re-visit these notions I think you may become quite amazed at how you will re-formulate and revise your thoughts over time again and again….OM

  10. Sociology is based heavily on how society affects the individual, and the social construct of the “I.” We all desire to leave a legacy behind, but we often only want to be known by those who matter to the “Me” and the “Mine,” despite the effect the “Not-Me” and the “Not-Mine” have on the world entirely. Such ideas allow for the idea of greed as we view the world in terms of what belongs to us and what doesn’t. This could also be seen as paying too close attention to what is ours and placing all of our value on materialistic parts of our culture, those which don’t make up our personalities or have a major impact on us as people. However, it is difficult to break away from such ideas because they are so ingrained in who we are, and giving up one type of life is simply trading what we enjoy for another. I feel that McAfee makes a good point in saying that we become proud in breaking away from the materialistic nature, and we end up placing ourselves in a smaller, worldly constraint by promoting superiority.
    It seems extremely difficult to try and better ourselves, because if we try and break away from a materialistic culture, we are seen as imitating indifference that isolates us further from life. On the other hand, however, we know nothing about it, only that love or financial success progress into negative aspects of life, because it allows a sense of superiority to form, so I feel that there is really no way to escape. Attachment is sort of inevitable, because we crave continuity and the security of normalcy, but McAfee’s statement that we need to understand the meaning behind attachment before we can do anything about it is, in a sense, misled. I am trying to stay open to his ideas, as Hatha yoga looks at life from a different perspective than I and probably many others do, but it is difficult when it feels as the change is hopeless. Even the idea of a relationship or financial success seems to make us greedy, because it helps us feel self-perpetuated, that which yoga seems not to promote.
    Perhaps McAfee is looking at the idea of attachment and greed as a view toward materialistic continuity, because there is nothing in life that is naturally permanent. We as people are often scared to be alone with ourselves and our minds, because even our bodies betray us eventually, and lead to death of the soul and the body. I will admit that I am attached to my “personal prison” because I have a severe adjustment disorder and dislike change, because I feel that my body and my mind will give up on me one day. I cling to things that remind me of who I was before I was diagnosed with a few different mental illnesses, and the more that I think about it, McAfee’s point of view begins to make sense. While immortality is not actually physically permanent, if we become happy with ourselves and find that we no longer need materialistic entities, we break our own personal prisons and enjoy life moment by moment. Hatha yoga is all about being in the moment, and I look forward to comparing the beginning of my journey in the practice to the finale, and hopefully experience the emergence of a continuity of immortality.

  11. Matt Tuckerman

    Each secret of the yamas gets more and more interesting, making me think more and more about life. These various forms of attachment are ubiquitous in our society, that being a capitalist first-world western society. This makes it all the more difficult to restrain. We are constantly given new objects and ideas to swear by, until of course the newer better version of that object or idea is premiered. We constantly are wanting these ‘new’ things, but we must learn to suppress these feelings. The way McAfee talks about attachments is just fascinating. He notes that attachments are a part of human life, that these ‘things’ make us feel safe and secure. I think that aparigraha is one of the most important Yamas; we have to value what we have, spiritually and emotionally, instead of being attached to materialistic objects that can come and go any time. These materialistic objects can make us feel happy or excited for a while, especially when we work hard to obtain them, but later on something else will come and we would forget about it. In my personal experiences, I have tried not to buy material objects or possessions, but instead tried to make real memories and experiences with friends. I don’t want to get too attached to a ‘thing’ but that’s human nature. We, as humans, must be able to control our ego and urge for these impulses, and live independently of all these attachments. In reality, we do not need 90 percent of the things that we own. Possessing true inner peace is demonstrated by the ability to survive and find happiness in purity, and in nothing.

  12. Aprigraha, the Yama of non-attachment, is exemplified through greed, possessions, and relationships. It is virtually impossible for human beings not to be attached to something or other. Whether it be an object, a person, or an idea, we naturally gravitate towards something and an attachment forms. These attachments, or bonds, are arguably apart of what makes us human. These connections keep us down to Earth. They keep us sane. Although sometimes people go overboard and an obsession wells up, but it is also virtually impossible for a percentage of us not going to the extreme.
    As stated in the reading, the purpose of this Yama doesn’t exist in order to separate us from possible attachments, but instead to open us up to the idea that there is more to life than these attachments. Although adopting this idea is an attachment in and of itself. While the attachments that we form for people, places and things shouldn’t delegate our lives, they certainly have an influence. This influence isn’t necessarily bad either. These influences can mold our personality and outlook on life for the better. These attachments can also emotionally and physically hurt us, but I believe they’re worth it.
    The investment one puts into an attachment shows what kind of person they are. As humans, we are imperfect from the get go, but that is what brings us to grow and bond with our surrounds, people included. Without attachment, there is no motivation to move forward. You are stuck in place with nowhere you are willing to progress to. Attachment doesn’t result in extreme negative possibilities, so altogether, I believe that attachment is good for us. On the topic of the coverage of the Yamas and the lack thereof on the Niyamas, there is only so much one can cover and the information do the subject justice. In order to thoroughly explain the development of the morals that the 5 Yamas represent, a whole book would be justified. The Niyamas, while it does go hand-in-hand with the Yamas, are vast in their own respect of information and relevance therefore they would need their own separate book.

  13. I really love the concept of non-attachment so our things do not have control of us. I highly advocate the concept of us owning our belongings instead of our belongings owning us. Especially at this time in the world with the constantly growing technological world, we are completely attached to our belongings like our phones and computers. These things are increasingly important to us and increasingly important to being functional in our society. Social media presence is a large part of our lives because it is the main source of current events. Releasing ourselves from feeling too attached to these things can bring us to a greater peace. In the case of loss, the feeling of grief would be minimal.

  14. People fear that once they’re dead they won’t be remember. That it will be like they never existed because they have not put their mark on the world. They want to be known and go down in history. This is why people try so hard to become famous or do things that they don’t want to do to gain publicity. It is people’s ego and fear to try to strive to for this. But if you worry about how you’ll be after death then you won’t ever be focusing on how to live.

  15. This chapter discusses being unattached to your physical belongings. He says that if we give away all of our possessions and live without any attachments to belongings, it is actually counterproductive as we are now attached to the idea of being not attached and having no belongings. It hasn’t really benefited us in any way, and now we have the added issue of living on the streets and having an even more difficult life than when you began. McAfee makes an excellent argument in saying that people become too proud of the fact that they are not attached to any worldly objects. I have experienced people like this in my life and while they do not experience any debilitating attachment to possessions, they suffer in that they sometimes do not have enough possessions such as necessities. McAfee also says that limiting yourself to not having objects places unnecessary constraints on our already limited lives. I agree with this and think that often times people place unnecessary constraints on their own lives and should evaluate thee constraints and perhaps release some of them in order to live a more free life.

  16. I use to ask myself what does it mean to gain the world and lose your soul? This chapter in Secret of the Yammas on “Non attachment” provoked me to ask that question again. This chapter shed light on the ideas of non-attachment. The author says right off the bat hat we cannot will non-attachment into existence. I once thought that I was strong enough to detach myself from certain lifestyle such as constant use of technology and constant focus on attaining the latest materialistic. I thought I was overcoming something by successfully detaching myself and focusing more on what matters. This chapter then made me realize that, non-attachment goes far beyond that.

    The author later clarified that the idea of non-attachment is absence of greed. Though we may easily say, I don’t need this and that, the truth is, we still hold these desires. As humans we appreciate continuity. By wanting continuity we become attach to the things close us. Whether is our beliefs, our financial attributes or our morals.

    So I now ask: can one really overcomes his or her attachment to desire for things, people or concepts and develop some new perspective?

    This chapter to me was an interesting one. It covers topics such as accepting the unknown and ease away from the thought of greed. I appreciated this.

  17. In the fast-paced world that we live in today, it is nearly impossible to not desire attachment. Whether it’s an attachment to material things, money to obtain said things, or even to someone of worth. It seems to be what keeps both us, and the world around us going.

    However in the same sense, when these things are unobtainable at the moment in time, we substitute these things with whatever we can. But even without the physical thing in hand, you are still attached to the idea of one day having said things. This is where the ego comes in, motivating you to perform the logical steps to get you where you need to go, perpetuating attachment.

    The best way to live, according to this chapter in McAfee’s text, is to detach yourself from both yourself and the ideas that you perpetuate and just live in the moment. It is in this way of living that you will not expect anything, and you can be in your purest form.

  18. Madeline Bodendorf

    This chapter focused on non-attachment to better ourselves throughout life. Up until this point, I found this little book very insightful and helpful but I’m a little skeptical on this chapter. This is because I grew up knowing that you should find your own path and be unique and in doing so involves attachment. This issue derives from opinion I believe and it makes me think of environmental issues around us and how there isn’t ever a simple solution to a big problem. I think what McAfee was starting to get at here could be helpful but I don’t think he quite got there yet. He says we need to understand the root of our attachments but isn’t that quite easy? Many people are attached to sports because it’s what they love to do. I’m attached to reading because I’m a writer and I love getting immersed in new worlds. I think this issue is more of a modern world issue and maybe McAfee didn’t quite get there.

    I personally think it’s extremely important to leave your mark on the world and I don’t think that attachments constitute “stones of our personal prisons”. I think attachments to hobbies and people or whatever else forces us to act on it, forces us to go out in the world and hopefully make a difference. I disagree that attachments are a bad thing if they’re harmless. Of course if you’re attached to killing people or a bad habit then you are in a personal prison. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be attached to my cat because I love him. I think that to live in this world, we should try to be remembered. I always read poems speaking of immortality because of the poems they wrote and I think that’s the same idea here.

  19. Once again, John McAfee’s elaboration of the Yamas is helpful and easy to understand even for those who are not well versed in these areas, such as myself. This section is focused on non-attachment. McAfee’s observations can be best summarized by our tendencies as people to cling to not only our physical possessions, but our ideas, beliefs and relationships. In order to achieve Aparigraha, we must, once again, look inward and find what it is that makes us such driven to attachment, and why we have trouble letting things go or be uncertain.

    First off, McAfee states that in order to achieve non-attachment, one cannot simply feign indifference to the things around us and act as if they do not have control over us. Nor can we cultivate an attitude of indifference. For doing this is an act, and not being true to one’s own tendency to be attached to our surrounding. McAfee goes on to explain why we attach ourselves to anything at all. The reason is that we, as people, crave continuity. Yet in a world where nothing is permanent, attempting to structure an unchangeable belief system or by building a house around ourselves and filling it with trivial possessions, we are simply avoiding the fact that continuity has no place. In a much larger sense, we are attempting to make ourselves immortal. By attaching ourselves and our ideas to things and larger structures, we are feeding our ego’s appetite for immortality.

    Even before taking yoga and being introduced to the studies and lifestyles which accompany the practice, I was practicing this Yama is my own–albeit, adapted–way. I do not subscribe to any major belief system, nor was i brought up to do so. therefore, I do not attach myself to any larger strictures of any one religion or spiritual practice. However, we were very materialistic growing up in my household. No more than other families, yet as i got older, I began to realize that these things that I owned or were given to me didn’t make me happy. Furthermore, I noticed that when I wasn’t encumbered with things, I was allowing myself to use my imagination more, I was more grateful for the things I did have because they was personal to me. I continue to try, in my modified way, to not rely too heavily on any electronic or material things. I want, in some ways, to be more self sufficient, and I feel that this Yama affords me that opportunity.

  20. I was very much looking forward to hear what John McAfee had to offer in his explanation and exploration of Aparigraha, or non-attachment. I do feel particularly connected to this yama, and feel that I and my conscious experience would experience benefits by achieving a greater understanding of Aparigatha. McAfee explains this yama to associate with attachment. McAfee does not encourage us to disassociate with the materials of our experience but instead understand what we attach to, why we do, and how that perpetuates the idea that we must perform the role of someone we are not in order to continue.

    Personally I felt connected to both the text and the yama and connected to the ways I attach myself to false realities in order to escape my own. I can convince myself into obsessing over something or someone but at the end of the day only feel comfortable and happy walking in my own true self.

    I hope to gain insight on my own attachments to technology and a couple of personal relationships that are not beneficial. In doing so I aim to improve my experience and understanding, expanding my mind and heart. Attachments can be understood to be vice’s, escapes, or even fantasies. Non-attachment is not elimination, but processing and producing an optimum outcome for yourself.

  21. Attachment is something that I feel can be both productive and harmful. Like anything else, too much of a good thing can go bad. As focused as we are in today’s society on the individual, it is widely known that people are happier when they feel securely attached and emotionally connected to others. Attachments can be good when it comes to friendships and relationships, occasionally these attachments can become too consuming or unhealthy. Like everything else there must be a balance. An example would be cell phones. As much as people complain or glorify cell phones, we can all admit that they are convenient and it can be extremely difficult in certain situations if you don’t have one. Today’s society relies on them to spread information, keep in touch, monitor activities and stocks and social media. To an extent our attachment is good– we can keep in touch, feel closer to relatives and friends and even educate ourselves by simply reading an article online. But there’s that line where we use the phone to replace actual social interactions, or to keep us distracted or occupied when we are bored. We are attached to them because we need them to keep us from being uncomfortable, when I believe that all humans should experience to some extent, things that may make them think, or be uncomfortable. I love my phone as much as the next person, but sometimes i get so fed up i secretly hope it breaks. Ill turn it off for a while or hide it for a day, so that I can go for a walk, read a book, do homework, or just sit and think for a while without distraction or instant gratification. Its tough for a little while, but then it feels BETTER. It feels great to be present, and focused and sometimes alone.

    Material possessions may make us feel good, and we constantly crave them, but over time if we lost them or they were taken away we recover. We don’t need them to live. Attachment to them is normal but not necessary. Sentimental objects like photographs or an old blanket, or my mother’s sweater; those are things that i cannot buy or replace.We put too much emphasis on temporary things that won’t do us any good after this life. I am guilty to falling into this trap, but I am aware how stupid it is as well and often try to give myself a break at least. Memories, and relationships are worth more and therefore more worth being attached to than material in this life.

    I understand that this reading says we should reconsider our attachments and try to understand a simple life where we find contentment with the bare necessities. I believe that we could, it would take time, but it would eventually become something we would be more than happy to live with, or at least I would be. I don’t think all attachments are bad, but I do think we place too much importance on things not worth being attached to. We must always strive for balance in our life and with all the Yamas.

  22. In one of my previous posts, I mentioned the school I previously attended. I took a myriad of different classes, mostly tailored to my interests, especially toward the end. One of those classes was my Africana Religions and Beliefs class. In this class, we examined all major religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism. When going into the belief system of Buddhism, we of course tackled the concept of desire, or as my professor put it, non-attachment. She explained in a way that was very simple: our desires are what keep us unhappy. Now, this is very oversimplified, but I vividly remember the students reacting to the idea non-attachment. They felt threatened, as if their way of life was wrong, or that non-attachment wasn’t possible. We would always be attached to something, wouldn’t we?
    In the Western world, it is very hard to imagine. I didn’t have such a reaction, but I definitely saw where their concern was coming from. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard of this concept. When looked at with a objective eye, it can be said that this is a very valid thought. How many times has our “need” to have something led to us being unhappy with the outcome? For me, I was more than attached to the idea of being successful in school, living up to a single mother’s expectations, etc. One of the best words I’d ever received from a family friend was that the only way to defeat your struggles, was not to resist them. And perhaps this was why I wasn’t so bothered by the idea of non-attachment. I wasn’t good at practicing it, but I knew that for me, the only way I was going to succeed at not being so hard on myself was to not be attached to certain outcomes.
    I believe this is what the idea of non-attachment represents. Not necessarily giving up every single thing in your life that may represent something materialistic or emotional, but understanding that what happens or what you have is not what defines you. You make your own definition of who you are, and what you represent. Not being attached to things that will be gone in an instant is a hard lesson that I’m sure we’ve all have to become acquainted with at some point in our lives. You are not who loves you, you are not defined by what you wear, or what you have.

  23. The concept of nonattachment used to be something I never focused on and I saw it as just a materialistic idea. Although after listening and reading this chapter, I came to a new conclusion that people tend to be attached to many more things than just materials. People become attached to non-objects such as ideas, politics, nationalities, beliefs, individual identities, and also each other. I struggle to think of a way to become unattached to these things without descreasing someones quality of life. I fail to fully understand the process of becoming nonattached to something without consciously trying, which can create wrongful emotions of dominance. However, I do grasp the fact that most people seek constancy because it is something we become used to and it makes us feel comfortable. But these feelings and desires come from our past experiences. This has the potential to take away from the present moment and can keep us from appreciating and being thankful for our lives. It’s possible that for one to accomplish nonattachment one should not hold on to the past but focus on the present moment.

  24. The idealism of non-attachment is an interesting concept. Trying to achieve non-attachment does end up backfiring because one will in the end become attached to this idealistic imagined goal of being non-materialistic and “free.” In our culture we all yearn for attachment, regardless of where we come from or who we are. We crave individualism, independent identity and think by cultivating qualities such as education and language and appearance, will help us to become what we think we want to become. The craving for continuity has been trained in us by our culture as soon as we were born into the world. We were taught to attach to things that were considered good, and detach from things that were bad. It is true that we are scared of things not being concrete. And by creating continuity, we create attachments that do inhibit our actions and affect our lives in ways we don’t see but are actually restraining. This was an enlightening chapter to read.

    – Lilah

  25. This chapter reminded me of Ekhart Tolle’s teachings on the ego. There are trigger words that make each persons ego act up and lash out at other people. My sophomore year I really explored what my ego’s trigger were and why I reacted the way I did when those triggers were touched. While processing this reading I realized that ego is having an attachment to your current identity and being offended when someone disagrees or disrespects who you believe you are as a person.

    It is saddening to me that we all feel this need to put a label on who we are as a person.
    I think what I can take away from this reading and from my past reading of Ekhart Tolle’s teachings is that we should live in the present and be instead of trying to identify ourselves in something we thought we once were. This is not something easy to do by any means, but I think having awareness is the first step to finding a healthier mental state to be in.

    What is a healthy identity to have or is there one?

  26. I feel like this reading really holds true, not only for this concept of non-attachment, but for a range of behaviors and thought patterns and affect human interaction. This sense of continuity, and how we construct our identities through our internal and external attachments to satisfy our egos’ needs for immortality, seems to be very prevalent in how people think and operate. Much like peoples’ needs to ground themselves in known, predictable ideas and patterns to avoid the fear and anxiety associated with the absolute randomness with which the world actually operates, this need for continuity and immortality helps block out the fear and anxiety associated with a fragmented, discontinuous flow of life. One reason that new ideas or discoveries take so long to gain any credibility is that the very notion of new information disrupting our well-established personal truths has to potential to turn everything we have held dear upside down and force us to confront the randomness and discontinuity of life. If this occurs, we recognize our lack of understanding about our environment, our lack of control over the many unpredictable events life brings, and our own immortality. This is simply too much for many people, and they would rather ground themselves in orderly, clear conceptualizations about the flow of life, rather than looking for real truths.

    Bringing one’s self to a state of non-attachment seems practically impossible based on the reading, but as with seemingly all of the yamas, only absolutely honest introspection appears to present a means for reaching this state. This consistent emphasis on introspection and examining the route causes of our thoughts, desires, and behaviors helps form a connection between all of these virtues and the path towards embodying them. Ironically, this also attaches us to them, which conflicts with the yama of non-attachment. In these areas, the effort towards this embodiment becomes a little messy. However, it still seems as though thorough introspection and a focus on route causes rather than their manifestations will help us improve much more than it can hurt.

    • Chris, know that all of this may seem very heavy, too mental and sometimes impossible, but with regular conscious practice all things become more known and manageable. Best Wishes, OM

  27. Non- attachment, absence of greed and attachment can be reflected in all areas of our life. Love turns to posessiveness! People are attached to our political views, belongings, ideals, materials, norms, all because we want to feel secure in what we know- we try to make sense of the external and internal reality we expierence. The ego creates our prisons of continiuity, immortality (or as I would describe it, connection with the universe) only exists with the destruction of ego and the attatchement that comes along with it. We must let go and be fully present to expierence our full joy. Like Ram Das said, BE HERE NOW!
    I have preformed my Isha Kriya practice consistently for the past few days, the overall contentment I feel is fufilling and I hope to stick with my practice. I have struggled always in my life with keeping consistent with things that I truly love for some reason. I think there may be some deeper rooter lack of ambition, or fear of failure maybe? I need to let go of the ego and simply be in the moment more. Practice will help, I will continue with the practice trying to stay consistent. This week I will make the commitment to meditation ( at least 15 minutes) everyday!

  28. Very often, we find ourselves longing for new things or sources of artificial joy, but we must learn to suppress these feelings. McAfee explains this excellently. Noting that attachments are a part of human life, that these ‘things’ make us feel safe and secure. I think that aparigraha is one of the most important Yamas; we have to value what we have, spiritually and emotionally, instead of being attached to materialistic objects that can come and go any time. While at the time, these items of materialism provide initial joy, they begin to metaphorically rot in our possession and the cycle of wanting more just continues. Our separation from this break the addiction.

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