Adyashanti – The Root Cause of Suffering


What would it be like to not be attached to your ideas, beliefs, and opinions? Without dismissing your beliefs, you can take a step back, and not be so limited and restricted by them. Adyashanti looks afresh at attachment, the suffering it creates, and offers up an open stance of being.

Quotes from this Video:

“We all know that in almost every form of spirituality, attachment is seen as an essential difficulty. It’s one of the root causes of not only suffering for our self, but also the way we project the suffering out into the world.”

“We all know what it’s like to be attached to our own ideas, our own opinions, our point of view. To be attached doesn’t mean to simply have a point of view. You can have a point of view, you can have a belief, you can have an opinion–without being attached to it. It’s pretty rare, but it’s possible.”

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Mooji – 2017 Satsang BE YOURSELF (Beautiful Talk)

Letting Go of Attachment: From A to Zen By Lori Deschene

“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” ~Dalai Lama

If there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that we want to feel happy; and on the other side of that coin, we want to avoid hurting. Yet we consistently put ourselves in situations that set us up for pain.

We pin our happiness to people, circumstances, and things and hold onto them for dear life. We stress about the possibility of losing them when something seems amiss. Then we melt into grief when something changes—a lay off, a breakup, or a transfer.

We attach to feelings as if they define us, and ironically, not just positive ones. If you’ve wallowed in regret or disappointment for years, it can seem safe and even comforting to suffer.

In trying to hold on to what’s familiar, we limit our ability to experience joy in the present. A moment can’t possibly radiate fully when you’re suffocating it in fear.

When you stop trying to grasp, own, and control the world around you, you give it the freedom to fulfill you without the power to destroy you. That’s why letting go is so important— letting go is letting happiness in.

It’s no simple undertaking to let go of attachment—not a one-time decision, like pulling off a band-aid. Instead, it’s a day-to-day, moment-to-moment commitment that involves changing the way you experience and interact with everything you instinctively want to grasp.

The best approach is to start simple, at the beginning, and work your way to Zen.

Experiencing Without Attachment

Accept the moment for what it is.

Don’t try to turn it into yesterday; that moment’s gone. Don’t plot about how you can make the moment last forever. Just seep into the moment and enjoy it, because it will eventually pass. Nothing is permanent. Fighting that reality will only cause you pain.

Believe now is enough.

It’s true—tomorrow may not look the same as today, no matter how much you try to control it. A relationship might end. You might have to move. You’ll deal with those moments when they come. All you need right now is to appreciate and enjoy what you have. It’s enough.
Call yourself out.

Learn what it looks like to grasp at people, things, or circumstances so you can redirect your thoughts when they veer toward attachment—when you dwell on keeping, controlling, manipulating, or losing something instead of simply experiencing it.

Define yourself in fluid terms
.

We are all constantly evolving and growing. Define yourself in terms that can withstand change. Defining yourself by possessions, roles, and relationships breeds attachment, because loss entails losing not just what you have, but also who you are.

Enjoy now fully.

No matter how much time you have in an experience or with someone you love, it will never feel like enough. So don’t think about it in terms of quantity; aim for quality instead. Attach to the idea of living well from moment to moment. That’s an attachment that can do you no harm.

Letting Go of Attachment to People

Friend yourself.

It will be harder to let people go when necessary if you depend on them for your sense of worth. Believe you’re worthy whether someone else tells you or not. This way, you relate to people, not just how they make you feel about yourself.

Go it alone sometimes.

Take time to foster your own interests, ones that nothing and no one can take away. Don’t let them hinge on anyone or anything other than your values and passion.

Hold lightly.

This one isn’t just about releasing attachments; it’s also about maintaining healthy relationships. Contrary to romantic notions, you are not someone’s other half. You’re separate and whole. You can still hold someone to close to your heart; just remember, if you squeeze too tightly, you’ll both be suffocated.

Interact with lots of people.

If you limit yourself to one or two relationships, they will seem like your lifelines. Everyone needs people, and there are billions on the planet. Stay open to new connections. Accept the possibility your future involves a lot of love whether you cling to a select few people or not.

Justify less.

I can’t let him go—I’ll be miserable without him. I’d die if I lost her—she’s all that I have. These thoughts reinforce beliefs that are not fact, even if they feel like it. The only way to let go and feel less pain is to believe you’re strong enough to carry on if and when things change.

Letting Go of Attachment to the Past

Know you can’t change the past.

Even if you think about over and over again. Even if you punish yourself. Even if you refuse to accept it. It’s done. The only way to relieve your pain about what happened is to give yourself relief. No one and nothing else can create peace in your head for you.

Love instead of fearing.

When you hold onto the past, it often has to do with fear—fear you messed up your chance at happiness, or fear you’ll never know such happiness again. Focus on what you love and you’ll create happiness instead of worrying about it.

Make now count.

Instead of thinking of what you did or didn’t do, the type of person you were or weren’t, do something worthwhile now. Be someone worthwhile now. Take a class. Join a group. Help someone who needs it. Make today so full and meaningful there’s no room to dwell on yesterday.

Narrate calmly.

How we experience the world is largely a result of how we internalize it. Instead of telling yourself dramatic stories about the past—how hurt you were or how hard it was—challenge your emotions and focus on lessons learned. That’s all you really need from yesterday.
Open your mind.

We often cling to things, situations, or people because we’re comfortable with them. We know how they’ll make us feel, whether it’s happy or safe. Consider that new things, situations, and people may affect you the same. The only way to find out is to let go of what’s come and gone.
Letting Go of Attachment to Outcomes

Practice letting things be.

That doesn’t mean you can’t actively work to create a different tomorrow. It just means you make peace with the moment as it is, without worrying that something’s wrong with you or your life, and then operate from a place of acceptance.
Question your attachment.

If you’re attached to a specific outcome—a dream job or the perfect relationship—you may be indulging an illusion about some day when everything will be lined up for happiness. No moment will ever be worthier of your joy than now because that’s all there ever is.

Release the need to know.

Life entails uncertainty, no matter how strong your intention. Obsessing about tomorrow wastes your life because there will always be a tomorrow on the horizon. There are no guarantees about how it will play out. Just know it hinges on how well you live today.

Serve your purpose now.

You don’t need to have x-amount of money in the bank to live a meaningful life right now. Figure out what matters to you, and fill pockets of time indulging it. Audition for community theater. Volunteer with animals. Whatever you love, do it. Don’t wait—do it now.

Teach others.

It’s human nature to hope for things in the future. Even the most enlightened people fall into the habit from time to time. Remind yourself to stay open to possibilities by sharing the idea with other people. Blog about it. Talk about it. Tweet about it. Opening up helps keep you open.

Letting Go of Attachment to Feelings

Understand that pain is unavoidable.

No matter how well you do everything on this list, or on your own short list for peace, you will lose things that matter and feel some level of pain. But it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think. As the saying goes, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Vocalize your feelings.

Feel them, acknowledge them, express them, and then let them naturally transform. Even if you want to dwell in anger, sadness, or frustration—especially if you feel like dwelling—save yourself the pain and commit to working through them.

Write it down.

Then toss it out. You won’t always have the opportunity to express your feelings to the people who inspired them. That doesn’t mean you need to swallow them. Write in a journal. Write a letter and burn it. Anything that helps you let go.

Xie Xie.

t means thank you in Chinese. Fully embrace your happy moments—love with abandon; be so passionate it’s contagious. If a darker moment follows, remember: It will teach you something, and soon enough you’ll be in another happy moment to appreciate. Everything is cyclical.

Yield to peace.

The ultimate desire is to feel happy and peaceful. Even if you think you want to stay angry, what you really want is to be at peace with what happened or will happen. It takes a conscious choice. Make it.

Zen your now.

Experience, appreciate, enjoy, and let go to welcome another experience.

It won’t always be easy. Sometimes you’ll feel compelled to attach yourself physically and mentally to people and ideas—as if it gives you some sense of control or security. You may even strongly believe you’ll be happy if you struggle to hold onto what you have. That’s okay. It’s human nature.

Just know you have the power to choose from moment to moment how you experience things you enjoy: with a sense of ownership, anxiety, and fear, or with a sense of freedom, peace, and love.

The most important question: What do you choose right now?


About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest book Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

6 Reasons Why You Might Want to Let Go of Attachment. ~ Andrew Martin

“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached” – Simone Weil

The Buddha taught that attachment, which is the desire to hold on to a permanent state or keep a thing or person, generates craving, wanting, and insecurity, and he believed it is one of the main causes of human suffering.

Non-attachment, on the other hand, aims to cultivate a mind free from these limiting desires. Once we do this we can then move towards a mind of oneness, which involves compassion, clarity of vision, and an understanding of impermanence.

Not only do humans become attached to physical objects or things, but also to relationships, ideas, opinions, and success and failure. Most the of problems we face as a species and planet are a direct result of our attachment to one or more of these things.

If there is one thing that remains certain in this life, it is change. As soon as we realize the impermanence of our existence it becomes much easier to let go of attachment. While in theory this sounds easy, however, even the greatest of masters struggle with letting go…

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go” – Herman Hesse

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go” – Herman Hesse

1. Less Pain and Suffering

Humans tend to hold on to things, but this futile grasping, this attachment, most often leads to pain and suffering. This is because we internalize possessions, relationships, or other objects of desire. Let me explain. Suppose I have access to something or someone from whom I derive pleasure, happiness, or some form of enjoyment, then suddenly this access is taken away. What happens? If we are attached, we suffer; we feel like we have been robbed. We feel like something that was once ‘ours’ is no longer. Hence, we suffer and experience pain.

2. Releasing Illusory States

The human mind is an aggregate of conditions, beliefs, experiences, and perceptions. We start building mental models of the way things should be. As most of us do not live in the present, we hang on to these illusions which exist only in our minds. When something comes along that doesn’t correlate with our illusory mental states, we again suffer and again experience pain. This is because we have anchored or attached onto some object, experience, or desire that we wish to possess.

3. Letting Go of Ego and Identity

We also become attached to our constructed identities. The ego is the I, the me, our personal identity. It is our perception of self, the separation of ourselves from others, our attachment to who we think we are. It is an illusion that we have created to distract us from the truth. We fear losing our identity, as this identity gives us something to cling on to. Many people have experienced this loss of identity more recently with the global financial crisis. Jobs, homes, and relationships have been destroyed. Our attachment to these physical objects and relationships has left many people empty and struggling to find some form of identity.

4. Attachment Restricts New Experiences and Limits Potential

Non-attachment and openness allows the individual to accept alternative ideas, possibilities, and change. This facilitates the cultivation of new ideas and opportunities and promotes the state of ‘beingness’ as opposed to ‘doingness.’ In this modern, 24/7 techno hyperdrive of sensory overload it is often difficult detach ourselves because we have become too busy. We are busy being distracted and seduced by the next sound bite, the next gadget, the next thing.

5. Experience Freedom, Space, and Meaning

Non-attachment gives us the freedom, space, and time to contemplate the true meaning of life, while attachment distracts us from reality. It influences how we perceive and react to our immediate world, since a world of excess leads to a roller coaster of highs and lows. This in turn motivates us to seek out more of those high moments of pleasure. We enter into a hedonistic world of want-fulfilment which creates further wanting in an attempt to bring lasting happiness.

6. Truly Experiencing What it Means to Love

While at first the concept of non-attachment in relationships and love seems almost contradictory, it makes complete sense when you consider the true nature of love. When you love without condition (without attachment to receiving anything back) you are truly loving. Love is a state of being.

When you love someone and expect something in return, that relationship is then based upon condition. When you love someone or something without being concerned for a result, or reciprocity, then you have mastered what it means to love. To let go of this state of wanting something in return is truly powerful and the highest form of love we can offer, as it exists without condition and without fear. It is pure freedom.
Source: Meditation Station

Can Desire Be Impersonal If It’s For A Body-Mind? ~ Satsang by Francis Lucille

The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Working with Attachment and Addiction


Published on Oct 9, 2015

The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Working with Attachment and Addiction

In Buddhist cosmology the torment of intense desire that can never really be satisfied is depicted as the realm of Hungry Ghosts. This talk explores the attachments and addictions that so many of us struggle with, and the teachings and practices that can liberate us.

CakeMix Spirituality by Jim Cartwright (Author)

Cakemix Spirituality is a unique gathering of words written from the perspective of an unhindered, egoless mind. As a result, a natural filtering of unnecessary analytical spiritual data is prevalent, thus delivering to the reader a clear concise perspective regarding a wide range of spiritual/human issues.

Cakemix Spirituality introduces a new, simple universal concept in the first chapter, which is then continuously referred to throughout the book as a foundation for explaining a broad range of spiritual topics. This original concept merges with current accepted views, while also occasionally challenging current accepted societal views. The simplicity of Jim Cartwright’s Energy Combination concept can be for some, ironically, difficult to understand, as it quite often renders the analytical egoic mind (the negative mind within the mind) obsolete, threatening its actual existence.

Cakemix Spirituality initially explains how each individual’s spiritual personality unconsciously regulates his or her own unique personal spiritual Energy Combination, then builds on this explanation, thus helping the reader to transition from unconscious regulation to conscious regulation of his or her own unique spiritual Energy Combination, (this being a dissipation or reduction of the reader’s negative egoic mind). The individual Energy Combination concept is then used as a basis for explaining issues at a planetary level for the human species as a collective.

The author’s writing style offers simplistic clarity, hence helping the reader to understand the primary nature and purpose of his or her being.

Jim Cartwright is a contemporary Australian spiritual writer, not aligned with any particular religious organization. His natural ability to simplify the most complex of issues relating to spirituality adds a fresh unique perspective to currently accepted conventional spiritual concepts, while simultaneously introducing to the reader his own new all encompassing universal energy concept.

VIEW HERE

The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein (Author)


Trauma does not just happen to a few unlucky people; it is the bedrock of our psychology. Death and illness touch us all, but even the everyday sufferings of loneliness and fear are traumatic. In The Trauma of Everyday Life renowned psychiatrist and author of Thoughts Without a Thinker Mark Epstein uncovers the transformational potential of trauma, revealing how it can be used for the mind’s own development.

Western psychology teaches that if we understand the cause of trauma, we might move past it while many drawn to Eastern practices see meditation as a means of rising above, or distancing themselves from, their most difficult emotions. Both, Epstein argues, fail to recognize that trauma is an indivisible part of life and can be used as a lever for growth and an ever deeper understanding of change. When we regard trauma with this perspective, understanding that suffering is universal and without logic, our pain connects us to the world on a more fundamental level. The way out of pain is through it.

Epstein’s discovery begins in his analysis of the life of Buddha, looking to how the death of his mother informed his path and teachings. The Buddha’s spiritual journey can be read as an expression of primitive agony grounded in childhood trauma. Yet the Buddha’s story is only one of many in The Trauma of Everyday Life. Here, Epstein looks to his own experience, that of his patients, and of the many fellow sojourners and teachers he encounters as a psychiatrist and Buddhist. They are alike only in that they share in trauma, large and small, as all of us do. Epstein finds throughout that trauma, if it doesn’t destroy us, wakes us up to both our minds’ own capacity and to the suffering of others. It makes us more human, caring, and wise. It can be our greatest teacher, our freedom itself, and it is available to all of us.

MARK EPSTEIN, MD, is a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and the author of a number of books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Thoughts Without a Thinker and Psychotherapy Without the Self. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University.

Browse Here

Mark Epstein: The Trauma of Everyday Life

Harvard Book Store welcomed psychiatrist and author of Thoughts Without a Thinker Mark Epstein for a discussion of his latest book, The Trauma of Everyday Life, new to paperback.

Trauma does not just happen to a few unlucky people; it is the bedrock of our psychology. Death and illness touch us all, but even the everyday sufferings of loneliness and fear are traumatic. In The Trauma of Everyday Life Mark Epstein uncovers the transformational potential of trauma, revealing how it can be used for the mind’s own development.

Western psychology teaches that if we understand the cause of trauma, we might move past it while many drawn to Eastern practices see meditation as a means of rising above, or distancing themselves from, their most difficult emotions. Both, Epstein argues, fail to recognize that trauma is an indivisible part of life and can be used as a lever for growth and an ever deeper understanding of change. When we regard trauma with this perspective, understanding that suffering is universal and without logic, our pain connects us to the world on a more fundamental level. The way out of pain is through it.

Epstein’s discovery begins in his analysis of the life of Buddha, looking to how the death of his mother informed his path and teachings. The Buddha’s spiritual journey can be read as an expression of primitive agony grounded in childhood trauma. Yet the Buddha’s story is only one of many in The Trauma of Everyday Life. Here, Epstein looks to his own experience, that of his patients, and of the many fellow sojourners and teachers he encounters as a psychiatrist and Buddhist. They are alike only in that they share in trauma, large and small, as all of us do. Epstein finds throughout that trauma, if it doesn’t destroy us, wakes us up to both our minds’ own capacity and to the suffering of others. It makes us more human, caring, and wise. It can be our greatest teacher, our freedom itself, and it is available to all of us.

The Deathbed Sutra of the Buddha: Or Siddhartha’s Regrets by George C. Adams Jr. (Author)

What if, on the final night of his earthly existence, the Buddha experienced a second Enlightenment, leading him to radically revise his teachings about the self, the world, and spiritual fulfillment? And what if that final teaching, lost for over 2000 years, was rediscovered?

“The Deathbed Sutra of the Buddha” purports to offer that final conversation, part teaching and part confession, between the Buddha and his trusted attendant, Ananda. Sometimes touching, sometimes shocking, and sure to spark controversy everywhere, The Deathbed Sutra forces Buddhists and scholars of Buddhism to seriously re-evaluate fundamental aspects of the tradition.

Regardless of how readers assess this work – as a hoax or as a legitimate lost teaching of the Enlightened One – they will find its content to be a serious challenge to long-held positions about the nature of the self, the nature of reality, and the path to enlightenment. This short work will be a must read for anyone with a serious interest in the teachings of the Buddha.

George Adams is an Adjunct Professor in Religion at Lycoming College and Susquehanna University, where he teaches a wide range of courses in World Religions, religious experience, mysticism, and related areas. A graduate of Fordham University in New York City, Dr. Adams has published numerous scholarly articles and presented papers at professional conferences. Dr. Adams also operates Clarity Spiritual Counseling, an ecumenically-based spiritual counseling service aimed at providing guidance for individuals who are looking for spiritual alternatives to the traditional religions.

Look Inside

Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Terton Sogyal by Matteo Pistono

Pub Date May 14, 2014

Nineteenth-century Tibetan mystic Tertön Sogyal was a visionary, whose mastery of meditation led him to be a revered teacher to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. Known for his deep spiritual insights and service to the nation of Tibet, Tertön Sogyal’s ability to harness the power of the mind was born of both his profound understanding of the Buddha’s teachings and his unique experiences, all the while striving for peace against tremendous odds. His life is an example of courage and diligence appreciated by spiritual practitioners of all traditions; and his practical instructions on meditation and opening one’s heart–amid conflict, uncertainty, and change–are as relevant today as they were during his lifetime.

Fearless in Tibet, the first comprehensive work in English on Tertön Sogyal, captures the essence of his teachings and his inner world of visions and spiritual realizations. It also brings to life the challenges he faced during his early yogic training and his efforts to promote harmony between Tibet and China.

Combining riveting storytelling and Tertön Sogyal’s profound instructions, Matteo Pistono takes you on a journey through the mystical past that reveals practical inner guidance for today’s challenges. You will see the power of transforming negativity into opportunity, letting go of attachments, becoming present, and embracing impermanence. This intricate tapestry of intrigue and spirituality will infuse your path with timeless wisdom and inspiration.

Matteo Pistono is a writer, photographer, practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, and author of “Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Tertön Sogyal” (Hay House 2014). Pistono lived and traveled throughout Tibet and the Himalayas for a decade, bringing to the West graphic accounts and photos of China’s human rights abuses in Tibet, detailed in his memoir, “In the Shadow of the Buddha” (Dutton 2011). Pistono’s writings and photographs about Tibetan and Himalayan cultural, political, and spiritual landscapes have appeared in The Washington Post, BBC’s In-Pictures, The Global Post, Men’s Journal, Kyoto Journal, and HIMAL South Asia. He is the founder of Nekorpa (www.nekorpa.org), a non-profit foundation working to protect sacred pilgrimage sites around the world, and he sits on the Executive Council of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, and the Board of Directors of Rigpa Fellowship and the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture. Pistono and his wife, Monica, divide their time between Wyoming, Washington DC, and Asia. http://www.matteopistono.com

Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Tertön Sogyal (by Matteo Pistono) book trailer

Book trailer for Matteo Pistono’s biography of Tertön Sogyal, a 19th century Tibetan meditation master and teacher to the 13th Dalai Lama. The book is entitled Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Tertön Sogyal (Hay House May 2014) http://www.matteopistono.com

I Don’t Own My Past ~ Ajahn Brahmavamso


Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera (known to most as Ajahn Brahm), born Peter Betts in London, United Kingdom on 7 August 1951, is a Theravada Buddhist monk. Currently Brahm is the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia, the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia, Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of Victoria, Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of South Australia, Spiritual Patron of the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore, and Spiritual Patron of the Bodhikusuma Centre in Sydney.

Transcending Human Madness ~ Steve Taylor [updated Feb 4, 2013]

The Roots of Human Insanity and How Spirituality can make us Sane: Originally published in Green Spirit, Winter 2007

To an impartial observer – say, an alien zoologist from another planet – there must be very compelling evidence that human beings suffer from a serious mental disorder, and are perhaps even insane.

The last few thousand years have been an endless catalogue of insane behaviour. Recorded history is an endless catalogue of wars, and the story of the brutal oppression of the great mass of human beings by a tiny privileged minority. The terrible oppression of women which runs through history – and which still exists in many parts of the world – is another sign of this insanity, as is the hostile, repressive attitude to sex and the body which most cultures have shared.

In addition to this insane collective behaviour, an alien zoologist might see signs of mental disorder in the way that many of us behave as individuals. He or she would be puzzled by the fact that human beings seems to find it so difficult to be happy. Why do so many people suffer from different kinds of psychological malaise – for example, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, self-mutilation – or else spend so much time oppressed by anxieties, worries and feelings of guilt or regret, and negative emotions like jealousy and bitterness? And why do so many people seem to have an insatiable lust to possess things? Why are we prepared to go to such lengths to obtain material goods which we don’t actually need and which bring no real benefits to us?

In the same way, many people have a very strong craving for status and success; they dream of being famous pop or TV stars, and try to gain respect from others by wearing particular clothes, possessing status symbols or going to certain places or behaving in a certain way. ‘Why aren’t human beings content just to be as they are?’ the observer might ask himself. ‘Why are they so driven to gain wealth and status instead of accepting their situation and living in the present moment?’

Primal and Prehistoric Peoples

However, there are many groups of people in the world who don’t seem to be touched by this insanity – or at least, who weren’t until recent times. ‘Primal’ peoples like the Australian Aborigines, the tribal peoples of Siberia, Lapland, Oceania and other isolated areas, generally had a very low level of warfare, if any at all. They also have high status for women, and are strikingly egalitarian and democratic. Almost uniformly, anthropologists have been struck by how naturally content and carefree these peoples seem, as if they are free of the psychological malaise which afflicts us.

Even more strikingly, archaeological records indicate that prehistoric human beings were free from this insanity too. Archaeological studies throughout the world have found almost no evidence of warfare during the whole of the hunter-gatherer phase of history – that is, right from the beginnings of the human race until 8000 BCE. Archaeologists have discovered over 300 prehistoric caves around the world, dating from 40,000 to 10,000 BCE, not one of which contains any images of weapons or fighting.

Prehistoric peoples have no signs of male domination either. On the contrary, they seem to have worshipped the female form. Their major art form was small statuettes of naked women, often with exaggerated breasts and hips. Literally tens of thousands of these have been found across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. These societies apparently had no different classes or castes either. For archaeologists, one of the most obvious signs of inequality are grave differences. Later societies have larger, more central graves for more ‘important’ people, which also have a lot more possessions inside them. Men generally have more ‘important’ graves than women. But the graves of prehistoric peoples are strikingly uniform, with little or no size differences and little or no wealth.

The Over-Developed Ego
This suggests that there is a fundamental difference between us and primal or prehistoric peoples, a difference which gives rise to the collective and individual insanity which plagues us. Why should they be free of the insanity of warfare, oppression and materialism? I believe that this fundamental difference is what might be described as our ‘over-developed ego.’

We appear to have a more pronounced sense of individuality – or ego – than primal peoples. According to the anthropologist Lucien Levy-Bruhl, for example, the essential characteristic of primal peoples was their less ‘sharpened’ sense of individuality. In his words, ‘the limits of their individuality are variable and ill-defined.’ He notes that, rather than existing as self-sufficient individual entities – as we experience ourselves – their sense of identity is bound up with their community and their land. He cites reports of peoples who use the word ‘I’ when speaking of their group and others who see their land as an extension of their self, so that being forced away from their land would be tantamount to death. (This is why primal peoples are often prepared to commit suicide rather than leave their lands.)

The naming practices of certain peoples suggest this too. For us, a name is a permanent label which defines our individuality and autonomy. But Australian Aborigines, for example, do not have fixed names which they keep throughout their lives. Their names regularly change, and include those of other members of their tribe. Other native peoples use tekonyms – terms which describe the relationship between two people – instead of personal or kinship names. On the other hand, our sense of ego is so defined and strong that many of us experience a basic sense of separation to nature, other human beings and even our own bodies. We are self-sufficient individuals who can exist apart from the natural world, our communities and even each other.

I believe this over-developed ego is the fundamental madness from which we suffer from, and the root cause of our insane behaviour. Intense ego-consciousness is a state of suffering. It brings a basic sense of isolation, of being separate from other people and the rest of reality. We experience ourselves as fragile entities trapped inside our own heads with the rest of the world ‘out there,’ on the other side. And our egos send a constant stream of ‘thought-chatter’ through our minds, a chaos of memories, daydreams, worries and fears which disturbs our being and creates a constant state of anxiety.

In addition, because we live in our thoughts so much, we find it very difficult to live in the present, and to appreciate the reality and beauty of the world in which we live. The world becomes a dreary, half-real place, perceived through a fog of thought. As a result of this, most people feel a basic sense of incompleteness and discontent. And this negative state is the basic source of the cravings for possessions and power and status, which are a way of trying to complete ourselves and compensate for our inner discord. We try to complete ourselves – and make ourselves significant – by gaining power over other people or by collecting wealth and possessions.

And in turn, this desire for wealth and power is at the heart of warfare and oppression. But just as importantly, our strong sense of ego means that it’s difficult for us to empathise with other people. We become ‘walled off’ from them, unable to ‘feel with’ them and to experience the world from their perspective or to sense the suffering we might be causing them. We become able to oppress and exploit other people in the service of our own desires.

Perhaps the desire for wealth and power, minus the ability to empathise, is the root of warfare and the oppression of women and other social groups. Maybe it’s also the root cause of our abuse of the environment. It means that we experience a sense of ‘otherness’ to nature, and that we can’t sense its aliveness, and as a result we don’t feel any qualms about exploiting and abusing it.

Beyond the Ego

However, there is a method of healing our inner discord and transcending our insanity: through ‘transpersonal’ – or spiritual – development. The whole purpose of transpersonal development is to transcend our intensified sense of ego, to blunt its walls of separateness and quieten its chaotic thought-chatter so that we can begin to experience a new sense of inner content and a new sense of connection to the cosmos and to other beings.

This is what the practice of meditation aims to do: to generate a state of inner quietness in which the ego fades away. And this is what happens when we dedicate our lives to serving others rather than following our own selfish desires: separateness begins to fall away as we develop a heightened sense of compassion, a shared sense of being with other people and other creatures.

As we transcend the intensified sense of ego, we begin to see the world as a meaningful and harmonious place. We become able to live in the moment and accept ourselves and our lives as they are, without wanting. And we also move beyond the social insanity of warfare and oppression. Since there is no discord inside us, we no longer crave for wealth and power, and now that we are no longer separate, we have the ability to empathise with other beings, and so become incapable of abusing or exploiting them. When the ego is transcended, all of the madness of human behaviour fades away, like the symptoms of a disease which has now been cured. That is the only true sanity, and perhaps the only way in which we can hope to live in peace and harmony on this planet.

The Five Levels of Attachment: Toltec Wisdom for the Modern World by don Miguel Ruiz Jr., don Miguel Ruiz (Foreword by)

Overview
This is a book that picks up where The Four Agreements View Here left off. Building on the principles found in his father’s bestselling book, Ruiz, Jr. explores the ways in which we attach ourselves inappropriately to beliefs and the world.

Ruiz explores the five levels of attachment that cause suffering in our lives. The levels are:

Level One, The Authentic Self:

We are living beings regardless of our knowledge, which exists only because we exist. The Authentic Self is a name given to that living being that is the full potential of life. It is the name that describes the force that not only animates our body, but also gives life to our mind and our soul. The Authentic Self is always present, and it is only our attachment that keeps us from remembering this is who we really are.

Level Two, Preference:

We use knowledge as the tool by which we engage our preferences in life. At the second level of attachment, we move with the awareness of the Authentic Self and recognize our ability to invest ourselves in something the form of an attachment as we engage in the present moment. We are still able to let go of the attachment when the moment has passed. Seeing ourselves as a reflection of life in the Dream of the Planet, we attach ourselves with ease, and detachment is simply recognizing and letting go of that reflection.

Level Three, Identity:
We identify myself with our knowledge; we use it to see and understand the world. Identity is the grounding sense of self that allows us to have our place in the Dream of the Planet, giving us a point of reference by which we engage other people. But this identity is a mask that blurs our awareness of the Authentic Self, and attachment at this level means we identify ourselves with our knowledge and forget that it is a mask.

Level Four, Internalization:
Our identity, in the form of knowledge, gives us the rules and guidelines by which we live our lives. In the Toltec tradition, this is known as Domestication. This level of attachment to knowledge means our identity has become the model by which we accept ourselves. Our sense of self comes directly from our beliefs. Our will is subjugated by the need to fit in with our Personal Dream and the Dream of the Planet, and though our mask may not be in the form of our passion, we will wear whatever mask we think we need to be accepted.

Level Five, Fanaticism:
Our knowledge controls our every action. We hold beliefs as more important than human life. Fanaticism describes a rigid attachment to knowledge with an excessive intolerance of opposing views. Anything that contradicts or puts into question a fanatic’s beliefs is a direct threat—and they will defend the belief at any cost. Prejudice, intolerance, and violence are the instruments by which the belief is imposed onto the Dream of the Planet.

Ruiz says that most people in the world find themselves at levels three or four.
With the wisdom in this book, readers will learn how to stave off Fanaticism and move away from Identity Internalization to reside in Level One, our true Authentic Selves.

Accessible and practical, Ruiz’s exploration invites us to look at our own lives and see how an unhealthy level of attachment can keep us trapped in a psychological and spiritual fog. He then invites us to reclaim our true freedom by cultivating awareness, detaching, and discovering our true selves.

With Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.’s help, you will:

>Become aware of how you confuse what you know for who you are

>Gain awareness of how your attachments have created your reality

>Stop creating your identity based on the opinions and judgments of others around you

>Let go of the fear of what you are without your beliefs

>Take back your power

>Make new Agreements that are more in line with your true Authentic Self

don Miguel Ruiz Jr.

Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. is a Nagual, a Toltec Master of Transformation. He is a direct descendant of the Toltecs of the Eagle Knight lineage and is the son of don Miguel Ruiz. By combining the wisdom of his family’s tradition with the knowledge gained from his own personal journey, he now helps others realize their own path to personal freedom.


Published on Jan 29, 2013
Miguel joins Freeman for a wonderful discussion about attachment.

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