The First Step to End Attachments
According to the Buddhist system, attachment is the root of suffering. The types of attachment fall into five categories; form, sensation, perception, impulses, and consciousness.
Attachment is suffering because when you attach yourself – for example – to form, you are attached to your physical self (your body). Your body will likely suffer illness, and will certainly at some point grow old and die. Attachment to your body is a cause of suffering.
Attachment to your body may surface as attachment to your youth (which is fleeting), your health or illness, or your physical life. All of these easily move into the space of fear (fear of losing your youthful body, fear of illness, fear of death), thus causing suffering.
This is how attachment is suffering. So how is resistance attachment? And what is the first step to ending suffering?
When something uncomfortable in your life makes itself known, you can rail against it. You can ignore it. You can push it away. You can say it doesn’t exist. But none of this will make any difference. The stifling, the pushing, the denial are all proof that this uncomfortable thing is present. If it weren’t present, there’d be nothing to push against.
In this way, it’s easy to see that resistance is, in itself, a form of attachment. Resistance is not the core issue; it is only a sign of the deeper cause for suffering.
Resistance is confusing because it doesn’t look like attachment; the feeling of resistance is “I am not that!” or “I don’t want that!” or “I want that to go away!” What these have in common is the “I” that is busy not being aware that it is attached to the thing it is resisting.
When resistance arises, the first step to ending suffering is to ask, “What is this thing that I am resisting?” Because once you know what you are resisting, and can recognize the underlying attachment, you will be able to begin the work of releasing the attachment. That attachment is the core cause of the suffering you are experiencing as resistance.
But there is no need to know what category your attachment is built from, because the release of attachment happens the same way for all forms.
Releasing attachment is simple, but usually not easy. It is more often an ongoing process than a one-time decision. Like breaking a pattern of behavior or a habit, it’s usually the same decision that needs to be made again and again.
The first step to ending suffering is recognizing your suffering. The next step, and the one after that, and the one after that is just let go.
Lasara Firefox Allen, MPNLP, is a best-selling author, educator, activist, and coach. Wife to her True Love, and mother to two amazing young women, Lasara believes in living the life you want to create. Lasara is available for coaching and spiritual guidance.