Being Attached

In my post explaining why I no longer identify as being a vegan, I mentioned “radical vegans”, or those who feel they must defend-the-faith of vegan-ism.

From a Yoga perspective, this comes down to non-attachment, or vairagya, which is the ability to release and/or be free of attachments, aversions, fears and identities that cloud the true s/Self.

For example, when we become attached to an idea / cause, we become invested in defending it.  This then compels us to become belligerent with others, to hold our position, to maintain the argument, to prove the point. Anyone attached to an idea begins to think they *are* that idea, and so when encountering questions or opposing ideas, feel compelled to protect their stance from what they perceive as ‘attackers’.

With ownership comes being owned.

When we realize that we are all human beings sharing a human experience, then we take the first steps in aligning ourselves with grace.  What naturally follows is expansion – for such energy cannot be contained – so that we extend our grace to the world around us, which includes all living things.  (Or initially for some, the recognition that animals and plants, too, are living things and so worthy of our respect and grace.)

When we realize that nothing can be owned, that we are not things, then we find calm, we find peace of mind .. and with this comes stability and steadiness .. and so we begin to manifest a firm ground that needs no defending.

For example, attachment / ownership prompts the fear of loss, of being found insufficient, of ill-informed; a condition that can trigger anger, stress and a lack of satisfaction, and self-questioning.  So that, as my grandmother used to say, “The guilty speak loudest”, or, those that protest the most are themselves the least convinced.

Being attached to an ideal (like ‘veganism’, for example) mixes with our sense of duty, our love of family and friends, and/or sense of isolation from all that we feel is ‘right’.  Why?  Well, by *not* clinging to an idea, we are better able to be more present to every circumstance, which further develops a greater acceptance of all-that-is.  This then manifests as deep meaningfulness, or balance and loving kindness.

Indeed .. acceptance is the art of living in the present, so that every moment of life is an opportunity to grow.  And in the case of a plant-based diet, an opportunity to educate ourselves first, then educate others.  Afterall, if one truly knows truth, then they know truth needs no defending.

For a moment, lets look at language, for truly, the biggest obstacle to this idea is how the translation of vairagya has become lost in translation itself.

You see, many consider “non-attachment” to be synonymous with “not caring”.  This is grossly inaccurate, and far from the truth.  Which is why I paid particular attention in my comment above to “grace” .. or goodwill and loving kindness. When one is ‘at one’ with their s/Self, then that oneness flows outwards, manifesting as acceptance for all others.  We see this in your point of “standing up for the defenseless”.

Caring for those/that in need of defense is very much an aspect of non-attachment .. when done in a non-harmful (ahimsa) manner.  Which is why I stress (as I always do) the opportunity for education.
Many Eastern ideas have made their way to Western thought; however, the translations are often inaccurate; or specifically, the meaning of a word in one language may carry a different definition in another language.  This is why I say that “non-attachment” is understood in the West as “not caring” (which, again, is incorrect).

To the point, non-attachment is actually a practice (abhyasa), meaning “an attitude of persistent effort to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility”.  The two – non-attachment and practice – *must not* be separated, for only in these twin streams is one able to discern the inner course that leads to “oneness”, or the idea that there is no separation between our s/Self and All That Lives.  At the least, separating the two (non-attachment and practice, leads to a misunderstanding (and/or application) of both.

Now .. lets look at an example: Many see animals as separate from humans, giving them freedom to disregard them as unworthy of respect, let alone carriers of the lifeforce (prana).  Likewise, many consider the environment in a similar light, that somehow humans are not part of their surroundings, giving them freedom to disregard and so pollute water, land and air.

So that, true non-attachment’s natural inclination is helping others, or selfless service – which is Seva, or Karma Yoga.

You see, when we become non-attached to the idea that any individual is more important than another, or that any individual (and/or group) is more important than animals (or the environment; other living things, and those things imbued with prana), then we become filled with grace – which is the desire for Seva / Karma Yoga.

For me, it is clear that we are all part of the Creative Lifeforce (made in ‘his image’ if you will), and the Creative Lifeforce is found in  All That Lives, so hurting other Creative Beings hurts our s/Self.  In Yoga this comes down to the gunas – think ‘String Theory’ here; or imagine pulling a single thread out of a garment and how that damages the entire garment.

Non-attachment then is the *fact* that we are all related, all inter-connected, so what we are not attaching to is the idea that we we  ‘special’ or somehow above every other Creative Lifeforce on the planet.  Put another way, we detach from the idea of ‘every man for himself’ to ‘it takes a village’ .. and that invokes responsibility for All That Lives (not just ‘some that live’).

Non-attachment allows us to discover our inner truth, or who we truly are at our spiritual core, without getting sidetracked by all the distractions along the way.

Iya, Inity and Ital!


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