We started studying the Kleshas in my teacher training which are “attachments” that cause us suffering (or sometimes in Buddhist philosophy they are classified as mental states). In very simple terms the five Kleshas are ignorance, ego, attachment (attraction to), aversion (pushing away) and clinging to life.
On an intellectual level it is easy to think we could get rid of these attachments with a devout spiritual practice. In reality however it is pretty much impossible to rid ourselves of these afflictions. Let’s face it. We are attached beings. We like life. We like love. We are sad when we lose loved ones. I really don’t see anything wrong with that. Without ego life would be pretty dull even if it was free of suffering. I think humans are bound to suffer and the best we can do is to be aware of these Kleshas and learn to lighten their grip on us. Letting go of the whole idea of “keeping up with the Joneses” for example.
I do think there is a beautiful irony that we are covering this subject matter now. I have just come through some rather heavy lesson in attachments myself which (sort of) came to a resolution this past weekend. I had been a member of a spiritual group for many years which brought great meaning and joy into my life. A few years ago some conflict came up between myself and the local leadership. I tried to sort it out on my own but didn’t have much success. I started to dread going to my church. My spiritual community become unhealthy for me. Politics bled into my spiritualism. It was horrible. I know this is why many people shy away from spiritual communities but the truth is I believe these communities (more often than not) provide great value to our lives. Yes things can go wrong.. but they can go wrong anywhere. People are people and when we meet in groups dynamics do happen. Sometimes the dynamics of people relating can get pretty negative.
I really struggled for a long time with my “attachment” to this spiritual community. I didn’t want to give it up. However I was also unhappy and it was causing me no end of suffering. In the end I wrote a long letter to the leadership requesting that I officially become “inactive” which basically meant I was no longer allowed to plan or attend events. This weekend an announcement was made that meant some of my issues had been addressed. My community has opened up to me again… yet here I am walking back in after having pretty much totally let go of the whole thing. I am wondering how my “attachment” will manifest this time around. I do feel lighter walking back in. It all seems less serious. I suppose that is a good thing. Oh life, how much fun you throw at us mere humans.