300 years ago or so (because it really feels like at least one lifetime ago) when I admitted to myself that Christianity was not my spiritual home and dug up the courage to find the one that was, I researched a large number of religions and spiritual systems. Among those was Buddhism. I don’t know if it was the influence of my conservative Christian upbringing, my lack of substantial spiritual development at the time, or the material I was reading that led to it but when I got to the concept of non-attachment, I balked. I’ve since learned that what we read and what we understand are possibly, more often than not, different things entirely due to our own readiness, willingness, and openness. But at the time, what I understood the concept to communicate was a life of asceticism that seemed as imbalanced to me as exactly what it was proscribing avoiding. Needless to say, while there were aspects of Buddhism that I agreed with even then, I kept on researching until I found Home.
Funny, isn’t it, how things come back around? How certain spiritual Truths manifest across a variety of spiritual paths and disciplines? I’m not sure when it started but a few weeks or months ago, one of the pages that I’ve “liked” on Facebook shared a post on my newsfeed that had my jaw falling open and my eyes simply staring at the screen in front of me. It was a quote that (and I’ll be paraphrasing here because I can’t seem to find it again at the moment) basically said, “Non-attachment isn’t owning nothing but allowing nothing to own you.”
Well, holy fuck.
When I saw this quote, a number of pieces of fragmentary Truths and lessons partly learned coalesced in my space. In the process of working on other issues and lessons, I’d recently realized that I allow certain strong emotions to completely overwhelm me and dictate my actions, thoughts, beliefs, etc. (so very no bueno, btw). And in that moment, I realized that practice/habit/pattern is synonymous with allowing them to own me. A host of other issues and lessons I’ve been working on that also tie in to non-attachment all blossomed in my consciousness: perfectionism, getting caught up in believing how others behaved is some sort of reflection of/indictment against me, fears about finances…). See, non-attachment isn’t only about material things (the inaccurate perception I’d previously had). It’s about ‘YES.’ Thoughts, beliefs, emotions, identity, roles, behavior patterns, FEARS…the list goes on.
Since then, I’ve been working on practicing non-attachment. Well, that’s only partly true. So far, as happens on occasion when I have some great epiphany or revelation, there’s this little honeymoon period where I have the experience of completely “getting it”, where I just live it and don’t really have to work very hard at it. I swear that the Divine does this on purpose so that we can feel and experience the bliss that whatever the Truth is that we just “got” offers so that we’ll be more motivated and compelled to work hard to get back there because…the honeymoon period is finite. It ended sometime between when I went to bed last night and when I woke up this morning. If you’ve ever had this experience before you know exactly what I’m talking about. Nothing happened, I didn’t do or NOT do something to make it end. It just ends. And the sensation is very abrupt and can be panic-inducing if you don’t recognize it for what it is and, in my experience, ground like crazy and focus on breathing. To be clear, when it ends, it’s not always a complete “reversal” where you go back to exactly how you felt before your revelation. A hint of the bliss lingers and the wisdom definitely stays put, but after you settle your emotions post-jarring realty-wake-up, it feels like now there’s this gap between where you are and where you just were and you need to work to get back there. Except, depending on the Truth you just figured out, the work looks a little bit different.
I don’t know exactly yet what the work to get back to the blissful and peaceful state I’d been gifted with living in for the last week or so will look like, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it will NOT be the active, battle-it-out type work I’m more accustomed to. No, this work feels to me, much like non-attachment, that it will be about flow, about invitation, about release, about trust. So, that’s what and how I’ll be working on…
Have you ever had a similar experience? Feel free to share your own story in the comment section!
Many blessings to you, wherever and whatever path you’re on…