Attraction can be to a Beautiful thing but Attachment doesn’t discriminate

Yoga-sthaḥ kuru karmāṇi Saṅgam tyaktvā dhanañjaya
siddhy-asiddhyoḥ samo bhūtvā samatvaṁ yoga uchyate //BG 2.48

Have you noticed that we are attracted to things which are beautiful versus our attachments could be towards things which are outrightly ugly? (Attractive or ugly again, depends on the way we see things..to each, his own)

But Attachments are deep and they don’t care for labels which makes them inflict the most excruciating pain in any person. It leaves you punctured  with a hole in your heart.

We can get over attraction but attachment gets us emotionally invested.

If you think why is one more hurtful than the other? One of the reasons are most likely because of the number of times we replayed the episodes of the ones we are attached to. Remember ” dyayate vishayan..” from Bhagavad Gita.

Although attachment is a progression yet it is deep and emotionally charged
Imagine that you have been thinking about a 🌵 over and over again in a good way. Then someone comes around and describes a lotus flower to you but now you are comparing your love for cactus with this flower. Trust me, you will be rooting for Cactus over Lotus.

Even if you are truly attracted to a lotus flower but if you can encircle your thoughts around a cactus, you can very well be attached to it. You can argue with the best of the best about how the cactus is more beautiful than the lotus flower itself.

For Attachment, lotus or cactus are all same

Although attachment looks unavoidable & dangerous but knowing that we have no control over the things/people we are attached to- should make us tread this territory with care.

Don’t dive too deep to a place from where you may not resurface. Also, recognize other people don’t see the 🌵 as the same way that you do 😉

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Web Of Illusion

There was this story from a book by Sudha Murthy that I was reading which was thought-provoking. While reading this, it also reminded me of a shloka from the Gita which addressed the same problem wherein  Krishna acknowledges that it is indeed difficult to overcome his web of illusion(Maya) unless we surrender our mind unto him/Truth.

When this comes from the God himself, it just goes to reinforce the gravity required when dealing with his illusion which is spun by none other than God himself. This should break the shackles of ignorance of knowing it all. The idea of ‘knowing it all’ is itself rutted in avidya, isn’t it?

Daivī hyeṣhā guṇa-mayī mama māyā duratyayā
Mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te// 7.14

Anyways, let’s get to the story. Will try to make it as short as possible.

So, it begins with Sage Narada being reprimanded by Brahma for poking his nose in common man’s business and advising them to become a sage like him.

Brahma thought this wasn’t right as Narada had no understanding of mortal life. However, this didn’t go quite well with Narada and therefore he approached his mentor Vishnu for some advice.

As always Vishnu had that mischievous smile on him which Narada couldn’t understand. While Narada went about explaining his stance, he was interrupted by Vishnu for a glass of water. Now he didn’t have any water left in his kamandalam so Vishnu advised him to fetch some from the nearest lake.

While Narada dipped the pot into the lake, he saw a series of white steps below the surface of the water and he couldn’t resist going down the stairs. He went deep under the water and came across a beautiful maiden.

Their eyes met and they got talking. They had a lot in common and what swept him off was her deep devotion towards Vishnu. By the end of it, he had fallen in love with her and they got married.

Decades went by, and Narada became the father of sixty children. Life was utterly blissful. But one day, a terrible storm destroyed all that he cherished. One by one, he saw all his children die before him. He and his wife wept bitterly at their helplessness.

Suddenly, a big wave emerged and his wife was swept away by it too. Still holding on to a tree he cried and remembered Vishnu and chanted with all that he had.

And then he felt someone tapping on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and found Vishnu with the same mischievous smile. Narada couldn’t understand where the storm disappeared and still sobbing he told Vishnu what went by.

Vishnu chuckled. Then he finally admitted that he was the one who created that Maya for Narada. For Narada had never tasted attachment-he absolutely had no understanding of the illness(attachment) and yet he advised medication(detachment) to the common man.

So, Vishnu said to Narada that if an accomplished sage like him can get caught in this web of illusion, then how hard it is for the men to stay detached.

Web of Illusion

So, that is the story and poor Narada had to go through all that to understand what it means to lose whatever he gained here living. The only way out for Narada or for anybody is total surrender. The moral of the story is to remind us of the impermanence and to seek refuge in him who is busy spinning 🙂

As much as we think we understand Maya- it further fools us into believing that we are in full control. Just like the storm, it comes from nowhere and hijacks our mind into illusions of fantasy. Without any difficulty, it can keep us occupied with it for decades together.

We all have an experience of how our thoughtless state can be swept into a never-ending wreck of drama with a simple idea of either raga(love) or dvesha(hatred). I am sure no one is devoid of this experience. I believe from this experience should arise the knowledge that Vidya and avidya are two faces of the same coin. If we understand one, we will eventually understand the other.

Is Attachment Unhealthy?

Naiva Kincit Karomiti Yukto Manyeta Tattva-vit

The human body is home to trillions of bacteria and viruses but they aren’t harmful until they find the right breeding ground. In the same way, the concept of attachment is already embedded in our system, waiting for the right time to develop.

For it to develop, it doesn’t need a human on the other end. It can be your smart phone or an operating system, like the movie ‘HER’. Watch it if you haven’t. Maybe our future gen is heading there.

Alright, so what is the problem with ‘attachment’?

Side effects are the problem. To name a few – possessiveness, controlling, sorrow, aversion, frustration, anger, hatred etc.

Some say what the heck, attachment makes life worth living. Few say attachment is the root cause of all our miseries. Others say it is impossible to live without it. Whatever is the thought process, we still do not have an antidote for the adverse effects.

Besides, the scriptures are not talking about attachment towards a person, in particular, but are addressing us to stop clinging to our beliefs, ideas, identities & thoughts.

We can make an argument that those very identities drives us and how are we to be without them? I agree.  All that we need to do is to realize that whatever drives the body is not us but are just a series of memories. This understanding will slowly weaken the attachments we have towards them.

Why do we have to do this?

If you truly understand whatever you have here is been loaned to you for a period of time including your body, would you not live with that knowledge. Or would you prefer living in willful ignorance?

I know it is easier said than done because we do not even realize. This is how I practice. Starting from my body to the people I live with – I am always thankful that I have them and they help me experience this world but I remind myself that they are there ‘now’ and that they have a life too.

Whatever I do, I engage in it with total involvement and that is when I enjoy the role I play. Just like how we play a video game, we know that it is neither us nor ours but we still give everything to that.

I am still in the process but I am convinced that everything I thought I was is not me. When they(mind, body, identity, roles) are not me, the things or people that come along cannot be mine either.

By doing every activity with this knowledge of who is doing, makes me more human. Giving credit where it’s due, for example – Mind is thinking, Sumi is working etc ;). It may sound funny but if you think about it, you would realize that it is true.

And if you practice, it will make things easier for you and for others living with you. The whole thing would make you more inclusive, happy, livable, prepared and mindful. Try it but always start with self-study.

Srimad Bhagavad Gita:

Kayena manasa buddhya kevalair indriyair api
Yoginah karma kurvanti sangam tyaktvatma-suddhaye//

The yogis, like all of us, perform their duties with the help of the senses, body, mind and the intelligence but only for the purpose of purification and not for attachment.

Naiva kincit karomiti yukto manyeta tattva-vit
pasyan srnvan sprsan jighrann asnan gacchan svapan svasan//
Pralapan visrjan grhnann unmisan nimisann api
indriyanindriyarthesu vartanta iti dharayan//

‘I do nothing at all.’ thus should be the knower of Reality.
In YOGA, contemplate, even while sleeping, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, walking, sleeping, breathing, speaking aloud, eliminating, receiving, opening the eyes, closing the eyes, the knower of Reality understands that the senses are operating in the realm of the object of the senses.