Daily Meditations



Attachment—how is an attachment formed? First comes the contact with something that gives you pleasure: a car, an attractively advertised modern appliance, a word of praise, a person’s company. Then comes the desire to hold on to it, to repeat the gratifying sensation that this thing or person caused you. Finally comes the conviction that you will not be happy without this person or thing, for you have equated the pleasure it brings you with happiness. You now have a full-blown attachment; and with it comes an inevitable exclusion of other things, an insensitivity to anything that isn’t part of your attachment.

Each time you leave the object of your attachment, you leave your heart there, so you cannot invest it in the next place you go to. The symphony of life moves on but you keep looking back, clinging to a few bars of the melody, blocking your ears to the rest of the music, thereby producing disharmony and conflict between what life is offering you and what you are clinging to. Then comes the tension and anxiety which are the very death of love and the joyful freedom that love brings. For love and freedom are only found when one enjoys each note as it arises, then allows it to go, so as to be fully receptive to the notes that follow.

How does one drop an attachment? People try to do this through renunciation. But to renounce some bars of the music, to blot them out of one’s consciousness creates exactly the type of violence, conflict and insensitivity that clinging does. Once again you have hardened yourself. The secret is to renounce nothing, cling to nothing, enjoy everything and allow it to pass, to flow. How? Through many hours of observing the rottenness, the corrupt nature of an attachment. You generally concentrate on the thrill, the flash of pleasure that it brings. But contemplate the anxiety, the pain, the unfreedom; simultaneously contemplate the joy, the peace and freedom that are yours each time an attachment drops. Then you will stop looking back and allow yourself to be enchanted by the music of the present moment.

Finally take a look at this society we live in—rotten to the core, infected as it is with attachments. For if anyone is attached to power, money, property, to fame and success; if anyone seeks these things as if their happiness depended on them, they will be considered productive members of society, dynamic and hardworking. In other words, if they pursue these things with a driving ambition that destroys the symphony of their life and makes them hard and cold and insensitive to others and to themselves, society will look upon them as dependable citizens, and their relatives and friends will be proud of the status that they have achieved. How many so called respectable people do you know who have retained the gentle sensitivity of love that only unattachment can offer?

If you contemplate this long enough, you will experience a disgust so deep that you will instinctively fling every attachment away as you would a serpent that has settled on you. You will revolt and break loose from this putrid culture that is based on acquisitiveness and attachment, on anxiety and greed and on the hardness and insensitivity of nonlove.

~Adapted from Anthony De Mello, The Way to Love:  The Last Meditations of Anthony De Mello