The second noble truth of Buddhism tells us that the root of all suffering is attachment. To avoid suffering, we need to understand what causes suffering and then weed out those causes from our lives. Sounds easy doesn't it? I am here to testify that it is not as easy as it sounds!
So, here's the questions that I've been pondering: "why is it that it is so hard to let go of things that clearly do not serve any purpose in my life". To discover the answers to those questions, I started by looking up the word "attachment" . According to Dictionary.com, attachment is "a feeling that binds one to a person, thing, cause, ideal". Sounds rather benign doesn't it. Further more, from a psychological perspective, attachment is"an emotional bond between an infant or toddler and primary caregiver." So, if it is normal and happens to all of us, how can it also be so hurtful and lead to suffering. Alas, my quest to clarify the meaning of attachment proved to be of no help or comfort at all!
Next, I decided to take a look at the opposite word, non-attachment. The Buddhist teaching on non-attachment is ultimately about realizing the truth of yourself which is realizing that you’re an expression of the entire universe. And, that you’re in the universe and that the entire universe is in you and that there is no separating the two. In other words, it’s about what we believe about ourselves and the world around us.
Now, I was getting somewhere in my quest to understand attachment. In fact, it was with that realization that I began to grasp why I struggling with letting go! Upon more introspection, I realized that I had been making people, places and things "mine", a permanent part of my world, in order to create a sense of safety and security for myself. However, by attaching to those people, places and things, I created neither safety or security but rather a vicious cycle of suffering when everything inevitable changes or goes away.
Last Saturday, I participated in the creation of an Earthscape or Playa Painting led by Andres Amador on Del Mar Beach. During the workshop, the idea of impermanence is never far out of consciousness for you see the designs that you create are quickly and without warning washed away by the tide throughout the workshop. The impermanence of our designs was a perfect metaphor for life and although I didn't recognize it at the time, the notion or concept of impermanence would finally be the key to help me "let go". The exercise on the beach made me realize that nothing truly is intended to belong to me or stay the same for everything changes or goes away.
What surprised me the most was that by integrating the idea of impermanence in my life, my fear of going through life detached and lonely because I let go of everything was alleviated. It was through the understanding of that everything is impermanent that actually made the interactions with those people, place and things even more precious and valuable to me without the need to attach to them. I liken it to when you hold a picked flower in your hand, being well aware that the flower will wilt and die in a matter of days. The fact that the flower will be gone inspires you to savor its beauty even more, every moment that it stays alive. In that way, you can live your entire life savoring every moment knowing that in each moment everything can (and often does) change.
We are all one with the universe , with each other and soon we all will be gone. Through the exercise on the beach and through the exercise of creating this blog, I have come to new a understanding of attachment, letting go, and have gained new wisdom and sense of inner peace through the acceptance of the impermanence of life. I have become, once again, enlightened and by reading my story, so have you!