What is attachment?

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Question: What is attachment? Please explain with an example.

Acharya Prashant: Mind is the product of time. Anything and everything in the mind is in terms of time. The mind takes time as real. So, whatsoever exists for a long length of time in the mind, the mind takes it as real and becomes attached to it. The mind says, “Oh this is real. If it is real, then it is me.”

The mind is an incompleteness, waiting for completion. It requires some object. Which object would it prefer? It would prefer an object that makes it feel secure and hence it would prefer an object which it can call as real. For the mind real is always in terms of time. The mind has no other way of determining whether something is real. Don’t you say, ‘Oh? It has been continuing for 2000 years, how it can be false.’ Have you not heard such things?

‘This temple is 5000 years old; it must be a very respectable temple.’ For the mind, time is the certification of the truth, which means that whenever the mind is in contact with something for a long period of time, the mind will get identified with it and that is —attachment.

Whatever you are with, for a long period of time, you start feeling a relationship with that, —that is attachment. The kind of relationship you feel depends on your mental configuration. If you are with ten things, your relationship with the ten would depend on your conditioning. But what is certain is that—as time passes, the relationship will deepen and that is attachment.

You can get attached even to a small dam spot on a wall in your room. Every day you go to sleep, you lie on the bed and before you sleep, you watch that damn spot for 10 minutes, 20 minutes and you have been habituated for watching it for 6 years. Now, if you have to leave that room and settle somewhere else, you cannot sleep. Why can’t you sleep? ‘I need that, where is my spot.  Without watching that I can’t sleep.’—Attachment.

Just time is needed, which means that if you take time out of the equation, attachment is gone. That shows the very impotency of attachment and that also shows the absurdity of attachment. If you can be made to live with dry dung for a long period of time you will be attached to it. If you can be made to live with a certain idea, belief or image for a long period of time; if you can be made to live with any person for a long period of time, then you will be attached to that person, doesn’t matter how rotten that person is.

That is how most arranged marriages succeed. You live with someone for a few years, you get so adjusted that even if he kills you, violates you, tortures you, rapes you, you still don’t complain. In fact, you say, “This is what relationship is about,  this is the definition of relationship. He has a right upon me.”

L: You must be single.

(Laughs)

AP: Isn’t that obvious in my blissful wildness 🙂

You have been living with yourself since the longest period of time. Now do you see the kind of attachment you have with yourself. Since day one, if you have known something, it is the ‘I’. You see, how you would be clinging to it! That is attachment. To think that you know something just because you have spent time with it, that is

To think that you know something just because you have spent time with it, is attachment.

L2: Is attachment bad or is it good?

AP: What does it do to you? All good and bad are always in your own context. What does attachment do to you? If it causes you grief, it is bad; if it lets you be in joy, then it is good. What does attachment do to you?

L2: Keeps in grief.

AP: So you already know, why did you ask this question then? You just want to have fun at my expense, right? It’s strange: how simple the answers are and how you already know the answers better than I ever can.

Whatever I say to you is not even a patch on what you already know.


Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: What is attachment?


Further Reading:

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2 thoughts on “What is attachment?

  1. Prashant ji, what you have said about attachment and its effect is true and that is why in Bhagwat Gita Lord Krishna asks Arjun to do the karm according to his Dharm and not to look for the reward. As doing karm is part of living and when one anticipates reward the result is pain and disillusion. You have put it very nicely through the relationship of mind and the observed world. However, many a times when you are with something or someone for a long period of time you may get familiar but you may also get tired of it and even want a change, so does that give a clue that it is not only the length of exposure but also the impact of this association that results in attachment or rejection?

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