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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Attachment?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Attachment

Attachment is a Substitute for Divine Love

Because we’re not aware that our true nature is this boundless omnipresent effulgence of pure love and light, when we have something we like we become attached to it. We become possessive. If there is somebody you love, you’re attached to them. Any object you love, you become attached to. So what is attachment? It’s a substitute for divine love. Attachment is a way of trying to get the feeling that I am one with this; I have it now, it’s mine, and it can’t leave me. If you recognize the dimension of Divine Love, you know that you and the object are all one thing, so you don’t need to hold onto it. But since you don’t know consciously that it’s all one thing (you only know it unconsciously), you believe you are a separate thing that can have something else. And so we develop attachments. We’re bound to develop attachments; it’s our way to preserve the closeness and connection. But if we explore attachment, we recognize that it is in fact a negativity, the result of a frustration of the heart. We can see that attachment is a negative kind of merging—it’s not real merging. It’s a desire for the state of divinity, for this divine love that is everywhere, but it’s frustrated by the sense of boundaries. We are this unity, which is beautiful and harmonious, liberated and complete, so when we are experiencing ourself as something limited and constricted, we can’t help longing for that unity.

Attachment to Essential Forms

If we get to a point where we finally experience our essential worth and feel the solidity and steadfastness of it, we might get attached to that because we like it—it is new, and we are excited about it. We also can fall into expecting it to continue or wishing or hoping it will. However, if it continues in the same way, our learning will stop, our maturation will stop. True Nature does not remain in place like that; it is constantly disclosing, displaying its possibilities. It’s always revealing itself in other forms, deeper forms, subtler forms, more comprehensive forms. Even when we get to the nondual condition where everything is presence, nothing about that is static. Yes, it is always presence, but everything is flowing and unfolding, and that presence can be of so many colors and flavors. Presence sometimes becomes denser, sometimes lighter. And sometimes, the presence is not like presence at all but more of a nothingness or an absence. Our soul needs to have completely slippery hands so she is prevented from holding on to anything. Velcro is not a condition of realization!

Attachment to Existence

The final limitation is the attachment to existence. You don't want the existence to end. The suffering here is usually not a big deal. It’s not as difficult as the suffering going from the personal to the cosmic. At this stage, we suffer not because we are afraid of death but because we love existence. We love God. We love everything. The attachment to existence appears as a contraction, and this contraction is suffering. If there is love for anything, you are bound to be attached to it. The attachment will have to go if suffering is to be completely gone.

Attachment to Identity is Also Hell and Frustration

Then the next level of the void needs to arise, the level of the dissolution of identity. We need to see that the attachment to identity itself is also hell and frustration. At this point you begin to see hell more clearly, more palpably. You start burning. The more attached you are to that identity, the more the burning and frustration. Then the dissolution of self, or the dissolution of identity, is what we call extinction, annihilation or nonexistence, which is a new level of the void. Not only your body is gone, but also your identity, your ego is gone. The only possible way to regain Oneness, the original oneness that we want, is to allow the identity to dissolve. The separate identity needs to go, even the true identity. Attachment to the true identity will keep you separate because attachment creates boundaries. The boundaries need to be lost, and the boundaries can only be lost by the loss of identity itself, by the loss of the separate self. When that goes, then it is possible to see that you are not separate from the original consciousness, that there is only one consciousness, one existence. That is what we call the cosmic level. At this cosmic level you understand that true merging is a loss of your boundaries, so you are One. If there’s a sense of identity, there is not One. You might perceive the cosmic consciousness, but if you are not dissolved in it you can still be attached to it. When there is no individual identity, no boundaries, you will know that what you have always wanted is this dissolution, merging into One. To merge means to lose your self, without holding onto something; you have to lose yourself completely, even your desire, your wanting.

Attachments Seen as Idols

The path of the heart shows us that everything we become attached to remains in our heart, filling the abode of the Guest. Our attachments become idols filling the sacred space of the Ka’ba, the holy place of the absolute Beloved. We need to recognize all our attachments, even to spiritual states, as distractions. All the levels of realization, even though they're good, wonderful, useful, and inevitably we fall in love with them, are ultimately seen to be distractions.

Essence Exposes Attachments

Attachments to Essence or some of its aspects cannot be ignored, especially not in the Diamond Approach. This attachment will be revealed naturally as a contraction or a restriction. The purity of Essence and the process of its expansion will expose it as such. The individual will not be able to be attached and still experience Essence freely. Attachment is personality, and it will manifest as a conflict that leads to suffering. In fact the more Essence is manifesting, the more this conflict will be obvious. Essence will reveal the attachments. There will emerge a specific essential aspect whose particular effect on the individual is to expose these attachments. There will also emerge other essential aspects that will give the understanding that will specifically lead to nonattachment, to the freedom from all attachments.

Once You Truly Know Nondifferentiated Reality You have the Insight that will Dispose of Attachment

Letting go of attachment is difficult until you truly know nondifferentiated reality and perceive the true status of asserted differentiations as conceptual structures. If you believe duality is absolute, attachment will always be there. If your world is carved into existence and nonexistence, life and death, individual and God, self and other, good and bad, then you cannot be nonattached. Attachment is one of the final challenges on any path of realization. Even after you realize cosmic consciousness and the Absolute, even after you realize that existence and nonexistence are concepts in your mind, attachment remains for some time. Attachment is habitual, and those habits will have to be metabolized as you become aware of them. That takes time. But once you truly know nondifferentiated reality, you have the insight that will dispose of attachment. The rest is a matter of time.

Realization of any Condition of Being Gives Rise to Nonattachment

As we realize any condition of being, the condition itself gives rise to nonattachment. That is to say, the more complete the realization is, the less attachment there will be. When that happens, when we are not attached to realization, then the dynamism of true nature is liberated and naturally moves on to something else, revealing possibilities other than even the primordial condition of emptiness and awareness and presence. The dynamism of reality can reveal other kinds of realizations that don’t need to be viewed from the perspective of what is deeper or what is more primordial. When I say that these realizations—whose experiential universe and wisdoms are all different—are freedom and all faces of one truth, I am not saying that all paths lead to the same place. That is not, in fact, true. Rather, each path leads to different realizations, all of which are true.

Self-Image is Fed by Myriad Attachments

We usually identify with our self-image; we think that's who we are. This question of identity with what we think we are is at the root of attachment. What we ultimately want is to fight for who we really are, to actualize, protect and defend who we really are. We want to make what we really are permanent and, depending on our knowledge of what we actually think we are, that's what we get attached to. In the beginning, identity manifests as the self-image, and most of humanity seems to be concerned with this level. Your identity is very much invested in the image, how things look on the outside, and that's what you're attached to. The self-image gets fed by myriad attachments ...

Surrendering Attachment to Realization

The moment that we say some experience is ours, we go back to the same attitude, just like the person who has lots of money. We feel rich again and we support our ego with that richness. To learn to be poor we have to go very far. The attachment to realization has to go. The attachment to inner states has to go. Needing to have good states has to go, just as needing to have bad states has to go. We learn that our attachment to negative states also can make us feel full and rich with oceans of hatred and mountains of jealousy. We can be rich in envy, anger, and fear. These inner possessions support the identity in the same way that oceans of love and mountains of strength do. The ego says, “These are mine.”

The Absolute Does Not Erase Attachments

Even after experiencing the Absolute, things remain in the unconscious that are not necessarily clear. When we truly realize the Absolute, the things that remain obscure will arise on their own. You will experience them as some kind of lack of understanding, but not necessarily about the Absolute. The Absolute erases the primary illusion, that is, the illusion of who you are. But the Absolute does not erase attachments. These attachments are habitual and will have to work themselves out. But now the attachments are not supported by the illusion of what reality is and the illusion of who you are. Consciousness is like a spring, uncoiling as obscurations arise and are revealed, and the obscurations simply dissipate. The things that need to be worked out are parts of consciousness that are still somewhat compacted and need to be opened and relaxed.

The State of Attachment Itself is Suffering

So it is not only that the loss of the object of attachment will bring suffering; the experiential state of attachment, itself, is suffering. It is this state of suffering, of negative-merging affect, that manifests when the object is lost. This explains the spiritual teaching that attachment is suffering, which is somewhat different from what most people believe this truth actually means; the usual belief is that attachment can lead to suffering.

We are Attached to Experience Whether We Like it or Not

Attachments necessitate objectification; there has to be an object to be attached to, and by its very definition there is a loss of the oneness. When we see this we can see that even God becomes objectified and an object of attachment. If you look at your usual experience, everything in it is an object, and you are attached whether you like it or not. If you like something, it's a positive attachment, you're holding onto it. If you don't like something, it is a negative attachment, you're pushing it away. There is attachment in the rejection; by trying to push something away you're trying to hold onto something else in yourself. This is the external manifestation of attachment, what it looks like from the outside. But these feelings of wanting are not what the actual attachment feels like. You might feel that you can't let go of someone or something, that you love it, that you would feel a great loss if it were gone. Most people can only focus on the object of attachment; if they really saw the attachment itself they would start falling out of love.

What Frees Us from Attachment

Ultimately, attachment is caused by desire and fear, desire for the good and fear of the bad, desire for pleasure and fear of pain, desire for life and fear of death. If you examine fear and desire you'll see that fear itself is based on desire, fear of death is desire for life, and that its opposite, fear of life, is desire for death. The desire is there because of the absence of understanding. What will free us from attachment is understanding, or knowledge of how things really are. So we could say that attachment is based on fear and desire, fear is based on desire, and desire is based on the lack of understanding or ignorance. If we are ignorant, we end up being attached. We are ignorant of the actual fact that union is about the absence of boundaries. We create more boundaries with our attachments, which then stop us from getting exactly what it is we think we want.

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