Think you should aspire to non-attachment? Think again.

September 18, 2023   |   15 Comments

Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 13:45.

Hello, wonderful Open Heart Project. I hope you and yours are well and safe.

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Before this week’s meditation I offer some thoughts on ego, no-self, and attachment, teachings famously associated with Buddhism. I thought it was important to do so because I’ve seen in so many of us the mistaken notion that, in order to be a truly spiritual (aka good) person, we have to “get rid of the ego” or “become less attached.” My friends. That is hokum.

Please have a listen to this video to hear more about how ego and egolessness are inseparable and a more accurate (in my opinion) definition of non-attachment. (Spoiler: your entire self is invited to the party. No self, no journey. Bring it all: your brilliance, confusion, rage, and joy.)

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

Much love, Susan

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  • Posted by:  Joanne

    Thanks for this teaching! This finally made the concept of non attachment much clearer, if somehow more ineffable as well. Clearer in its ineffability. When I went through a dark depression in my mid 20s, I turned to Buddhism to help see me out of it and make sense of it, and I didn’t go too deep with it. Perhaps that’s the reason why I took non-attachment to mean to not care, to be above mere mortal feelings and love for others. It just made me a shell of who I was (even more so than the depression did on its own) and it was a very confusing time for me. I’ve thankfully been much better over the last 20 years, but I never really got a sense of resolution over this non attachment concept and attempted experience. If I had just sit with my feelings and truly accepted them, and observed them, I think I would have probably had an easier time of it back then. But we all walk the path we are supposed to, and I’m grateful for it. Thanks for this lesson! I always find your teachings to be non-preachy and open to discussion which I really appreciate.

  • Posted by:  Lorna

    This was profoundly shared and gratefully received, Susan. Thank you. Sometimes the ‘right’ words (for me) work; this worked for me. All made sense and was relevant and timely for me. 🙏🙏 More to think about and practice.
    Thank you.

  • Posted by:  Lorraine

    Oh wow! I found your ideas of attachment to non attachment very profound. It really made sense to me. I always try so hard to meditate just right but trying hard takes me away from what I am and feeling into myself. Thank you. It makes it so much easier rather than being angry at myself for doing a “bad” meditation. Just be with what comes and let it slip by. xoxo

  • Posted by:  Amers

    Thank you ❤️🙏

  • Posted by:  Colette

    Yes! Totally and absolutely being with “what is” is what resonates with me. “This is what sadness/joy/pain/pleasure/irritation/excitement etc feels like right now” Sitting and being with it in the moment, as it happens, knowing that it is ephemeral and impermanent. A hard practice sometimes, when that chocolate tasted so good – I want more! or when aversion to certain people kicks in – I want less! Attachment seems to be this grasping or avoidance, instead of the letting in, letting be and letting go. I absolutely love your no-nonsense no b.s. way of presenting this material, so much gratitude for enlightening my day with much food for practice! Namaste!

  • Posted by:  Diane

    I find your expression of very misunderstood concepts, especially non attachments and egolessness very simple and clear and easy to apply to my experience.

    I will stop buying a ticket to Polukaville and frustrated by failure to arrive.

    Thank you for clarity
    Stay hydrated

  • Posted by:  Donna

    Thank you Susan. This was a great video. I’m a 9 so I can pretty easily go to a bypass space. Arise-abide-dissolve. During the silence I found myself lightly having the thought – this precious moment-over and over. Seems like that’s a good touchstone for me as moving through my day 🙏

  • Posted by:  diana plummer

    Just before listening to this talk,I wrote a quick note.
    ‘Acceptance of one’s experience at all times:in fear/confusion/boredom/anger/neutrality/pain.
    Allowing it all in as far as possible without judgement of self or others and not running or grasping when the discomfort comes,as well as keeping the awareness of impermanence as a faithful friend!
    Thank you for your very clear presentation.
    The challenge is to go beyond concept or the preferred state.
    Sending love.

  • Posted by:  Jane Deakin

    Brilliant as ever thank you 🙏 xxx

  • Posted by:  Sue Ellen May

    Perfectly timed talk! I was thinking about how the “shoulds/shouldn’ts” rule so much of our cognition and emotions. Being attached to what’s “right” is something that I struggle with daily, but rather than mentally stomping on that (after all, I *shouldn’t* feel that way), I’m learning to look at that and letting it dissolve on its own. In the popular culture, “being Zen” is a often a trope for placidity – but if you’ve ever met someone like Sokuzan, I would not characterize him as placid. He is equally present with wonder/outrage/joy/passion. Your concept of riding the waves of what is speaks to me especially. Thanks as always for sharing your wisdom.

  • Posted by:  Steph Dugdale

    Hi Susan—
    Thanks for all your compassionate understandings that we’re just humans walking a path that often feels to me like a rubber conveyor belt.
    I found my mind yesterday complaining about someone constantly complaining.
    A good laugh. Everything is the path.

  • Posted by:  Celia Straus

    Thank you, Susan, for your openness and understanding about what it is to meditate and take this journey towards being more in the moment. You make it seem so much easier if I’m not burdening myself with should do it this way, or can’t get my monkey mind to turn off so I’m a failure. I remember when I first met you and we were doing work together in 2002, how even then you were the most “present” person I had ever met, while at the same time living life to it’s fullest up and down the waves. Bottom line: Thank you for this lesson on the silliness of being attached to nonattachment. Brilliant. With love

  • Posted by:  Larry Wachendorf

    Thank You Susan!

  • Posted by:  Betsy Loeb

    Dear Susan, This talk on attachment and non-attachment and relationship to ego was very helpful. Seems like “riding the wave and letting go as it dissolves” is similar if not the same as equanimity. Is it? Thank you for your teachings. I always feel like you are talking directly to me!

  • Posted by:  Jen White

    Susan – is not being attached the same as accepting things as they are? I get wrapped up in trying to decide if I should accept things as they are in an effort to be non-attached to the way I want things to be, and when should I not accept the way things are and try to do something about it. For example, accepting a situation because I don’t have control over the outcome or not accepting something because I feel I do have control of the outcome.

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