Friday, April 19, 2013

the attachment trap - part 1

Verse 2.62: While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

Has this ever happened to you? You're chatting with a friend when suddenly they exclaim, "Man, I really want some ice cream right now!" You nod your head in agreement and continue your conversation. However, after another five minutes you blurt out, "I can't stop thinking about that ice cream! I really want some." As you carry on with your day, you think about the different flavours that you like and how there's a shop that's just twenty minutes out of your way. The next thing you know, you've made arrangements to get to that shop and are still in that dream-like state thinking how much you're going to enjoy it.

If've been the victim of the attachment trap! That sneaky trap that many of us are totally unaware of. It's the root cause of not only many hours lost in time wasting, but in suffering. Sound a little overly dramatic? Probably because I used the innocuous example of ice cream!

Personally, I feel this step by step breakdown of how attachment arises and it's potential after effects is one of the most valuable pieces of knowledge one can possess. Whether one is interested in spirituality or not, this "recipe" as one could call it, is universal. Understanding how and why attachment arises is the key to not only preventing suffering, but to becoming unattached.

Breakdown of the attachment trap

Step 1 - contemplation of the senses: Sounds pretty benign and innocent enough, right? Whether it be thinking of a person, a thing, an activity etc., nothing wrong in just thinking about it. WRONG. The Gita clearly explains here that this is how the attachment trap lures it's naive prey in. Let's revisit the ice cream example. You weren't thinking about it before, but upon hearing it, it sounds kind of nice doesn't it? Now, if a person isn't very interested, they hear it and let it go. But...if the thought stays and we toss it around back and forth in our mind....oh oh....that leads to...

Step 2 - attachment: As one thinks about it, one naturally becomes attached. How can one not? If you're meditating upon something, it's in your mind constantly. That constant remembrance leads one to become attached to the idea of it. Unless one is very strong and determined, the intelligence gets drowned out. The intelligence, which acts as a discriminator, may try to warn the mind that sugar isn't very good for us, that it's cold outside and we've sworn off sweets. But it takes a strong person! If we're unable to listen to our intelligence and continue to feed our attachment, it turns into...

Step 3: lust: That longing or craving to obtain whatever it is that is the object of our contemplation. It's at this time that the mind tends to go into overdrive. It starts making plans. "Although I have to meet someone, I'll tell them an emergency came up and that way I'll have time to get some ice cream!" Once that "want" firmly takes root, the mission is clear. Must. Get. It.

Step 4: anger: all of us have come to realize, we don't always get what we want. Our plans get thwarted in so many ways. Depending on the strength of the desire, if something comes in our way, that's when anger arises. "I can't believe the stupid bus is late! I'm going to have to wait another thirty minutes for the next one to come and I've already been waiting all day for my ice cream. Arggghhhhh!"

Ever experience any of these steps? Whether yes or no, think of it as some food for thought the next time you find yourself getting preoccupied with something or someone.

Tune in tomorrow for part 2 where we'll find out how anger can lead one to fall even deeper into "the attachment trap".


  1. The attachment trap . . . how you are speaking so clearly to me right now, Vrndavana. It is so easy to offer up excuses rather than walk the narrow way which God calls us to. Allowing our senses to control us will stymie our spiritual growth and keep us from realizing the beautiful, unattached gifts the Lord has in store for us. Your words blessed me today . . .
    You are always an inspiration, my friend!

    1. I love how you put it "Allowing our senses to control us will stymie our spiritual growth." Just beautiful. As for speaking so clearly to you....I'm speaking so clearly to me! This "attachment trap" is just something to always remember and be aware of. Thank you so much my dear Martha!

  2. I find that I can get attached to thoughts, especially negative thoughts, just as much as I can about ice cream. Now that you mention it, ice cream does sound good.... Oh dear.

    1. First of! Sorry...should have never brought up that ice cream!

      Yes, it's so true what you say. We can get quite attached to negative thoughts and the process still works the same. hose thoughts serve to handicap us just as much when we start putting trust and faith into them and lose objectivity. Thank you for bringing up that important point!