DETACHING & “DESIRELESSNESS”
DESIRELESSNESS:I said in the last chapter that “detachment isn’t always just from the things we don’t want or like, but also from the things we want and love.” That may sound like you have to forsake everything in order to become a butterfly, which would make becoming a butterfly a lot less attractive to many people. But it’s not true. So let me explain “detachment” a little more; and, as usual, let’s first look at what “detachment” is not…. “Detachment,” sometimes called “non-attachment” or “desirelessness,” is a concept that can be found in all the major religions inside the movie theater; and, as is necessary, it has been altered and twisted so that it doesn’t work for the Human Adults who try it. “Detachment as release from desire and consequently from suffering is an important principle, or even ideal, in the Bahá’í Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Jainism, Kabbalah and Taoism…. In Buddhist and Hindu religious texts the opposite concept is expressed as upādāna, translated as “attachment.” Attachment, that is the inability to practice or embrace detachment, is viewed as the main obstacle towards a serene and fulfilled life. Many other spiritual traditions identify the lack of detachment with the continuous worries and restlessness produced by desire and personal ambitions.”1 “One of the most important teachings of Zen Buddhism is non-attachment. The teaching of non-attachment may be easy to understand, but it is not easy to practice. Nevertheless, it is very essential to cultivate non-attachment if we are to live a serene and happy life in a world of constant change…. Our world is a world of desire. Every living being comes forth from desire and endures as a combination of desires. We are born from the desire between of our father and mother. Then, when we emerge into this world, we become infatuated with many things, and become ourselves well-springs of desire. Through desire we give rise to attachments. For every desire there is a corresponding attachment, namely, to the object of desire. For example, we are most conspicuously attached to our bodies. When someone threatens the body, we grow anxious and try to protect it. We relish physical comforts and the enjoyment of the senses. Thus, we are strongly attached to the body. But if we consider this attachment, we will see that it is a potential source of suffering.”2 One of the main reasons this concept doesn’t work is that it is based on judgment – the judgment that desire is “bad” and desirelessness is “good.” It also contains resistance to desire; and as many others have pointed out, to desire desirelessness is a desire in itself. The truth is there is nothing “wrong” with desires and no reason to resist them or try to live without them. We are free to desire anything and everything we want. Our desires make life interesting and exciting. The problem only starts when we become attached to having those desires fulfilled. In other words, you cannot be attached to realizing or achieving your desires, so that whether you realize or achieve your desires or not has no effect on your happiness or state of mind. It is not the desire that needs to be detached from; it’s the attachment to its fulfillment. I can well imagine the Buddha knew this and taught this, but his followers either didn’t get it, or couldn’t do it. So they made “desire” the focus of detachment rather than the attachment to the outcome of the desire. As quoted above… “For every desire there is a corresponding attachment, namely, to the object of desire.” No, no, no! The attachment is to the fulfillment of the desire, not the desire itself! All suffering comes from being attached to the fulfillment of the desire, and being disappointed when that desire is not realized despite all the meditation, prayers, visualization and hard work. The suffering is not because of the desire itself. Jed McKenna says it very simply… “All attachments to the dreamstate are made of energy. That energy is called emotion. All emotions, positive and negative, are attachments.”3 I have any number of desires I’m not attached to. For example, I have a strong desire to build a 65-foot wingsail catamaran4 where I can spend my days as a butterfly sailing the oceans, scuba diving, and enjoying the company of the whales and dolphins. But I am not attached to having that desire fulfilled; that will depend entirely on what my Infinite I wants me to experience. I also don’t have the catamaran as a plan or a goal or an agenda, nor am I doing anything to try to make it happen other than what excites me in the moment. I simply have fun with the desire, dream about it, enjoy drawing designs of the boat, and am curious to see if the ripples of my universe flow in that direction. “No spiritual teaching that talks about non-attachment has any right to. None of them are talking about this. ‘Cultivate a sense of detachment,’ they say. A sense of detachment? What planet are they from? They have no idea whatsoever what detachment means. They seem to be talking about detaching from your desire for a BMW or for Mr. Right. Try detaching from what you love! From what you are! From everything that characterizes your membership in the human race! And that’s just for starters.”5 * * Very briefly, you can consider yourself “attached” to someone or something when that someone or something can affect the way you feel. In other words… …you are attached to another person if something they do or say determines your happiness or lack of it. …you are attached to something when it has to be “right” in order for you to feel “right.” …you are attached to a false layer of the ego when it defines who you think you are. The detachment we’re most interested in is detaching from these layers of the ego that have led to a misconception of who we really are, and that detachment happens automatically as we do our spiritual autolysis and discover who we are not. We don’t have to actively pursue or practice detachment; those layers of false identity simply fall away, stripped off the onion and left for trash. As we find out who we are not on our way to finding out who we really are, we detach from those identities in the process. That is detachment. “You can forget about non-attachment…. You’re putting the cart before the horse. Non-attachment isn’t a key to liberation, it’s a by-product.”
desirelessness:One of the many wonderful gifts I have been given by other Players in my life happened when I was fifty-five years old and fell in love with a woman who would soon start to act like my mother. For the first time in my life, she allowed me to closely examine the attachments I still had to both my parents, even though they were already dead at the time. Needless to say, these were less than pleasant memories. In fact, I cried almost every day for a solid year as I processed this part of my childhood. In addition to loving her, I became very attached to this woman, to the point that how I felt was totally dependent on what she did or said every minute of every day. It was so bad that if she didn’t kiss me exactly right when we said goodbye in the morning, I was devastated and my day was ruined. It was the Al-Anon program7 that helped me break these attachments. Al-Anon doesn’t teach that you have to leave an alcoholic you love, but that you can detach from them and the effects of their alcoholism, still love them, still live with them, and still be happy regardless of anything they do or say. Once I was able to detach from my parents and my fiancée, my happiness was no longer dependant on anything she said or did, or how she kissed me, and I grew to love this woman unconditionally. So when I talk about “detaching,” it doesn’t mean you have to give up anything except your attachment. It doesn’t mean you can’t continue to love someone; it means you can no longer be attached to that love, or to that someone either. It doesn’t mean you can’t continue to want nice things in your life; it means your joy in life can’t be attached to having those nice things. It doesn’t mean you can no longer find total pleasure in your favorite meal with a good glass of wine; it means your happiness can’t be dependent on whether you get it or not. It means letting go of the cave and your fellow prisoners in order to experience what it’s like outside the cave. It means letting go of the movie theater and your fellow Human Children and Human Adults in order to find out what is true and who you really are. “The process of awakening looks like it’s about destroying ego, but that’s not really accurate. You never completely rid yourself of ego – the false self – as long as you’re alive, and it’s not important that you do. What matters is the emotional tethers that anchor us to the dreamstate; that hold us in place and make us feel that we’re a part of something real. We send out energetic tendrils from the nexus of ego like roots to attach ourselves to the dreamstate, and to detach from it we must sever them. The energy of an emotion is our lifeforce, and the amount of lifeforce determines the power of the emotion. Withdraw energy from an emotion and what’s left? A sterile thought. A husk. In this sense, freeing ourselves from attachment is indeed the process of awakening, but such attachments aren’t what we have, they’re what we are.”8 Think of it this way… in order to become a butterfly, a caterpillar has to give up the attachment to its body, the feel of the earth as it crawled along, the leaves it enjoyed eating, the 4000 muscles it possessed, the hair it used as protection, and so on. But letting go of those attachments is well worth it when the end result is a butterfly with its bright colors, light body, wings to fly, and the magnificent taste of flower nectar. Being a caterpillar is a wonderful experience; being a butterfly is total freedom.
desirelessness:In Book Two of his Enlightenment, Jed McKenna includes the spiritual autolysis writings of one of his students, named Julie…. “My mind is haunted, my thoughts are haunted. I am haunted; possessed, plagued with demons! My mother is here! My unborn children are here. My future is here, my dreams. Everyone who means anything to me, good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, is here. How do they all fit? How could I have not seen them right away? Of course they’re here. This is where they are. My attic is me, there is no place else. Whether or not they have physical counterparts out in the real world is meaningless to me, just as the fact that I might be a real person in the real world is meaningless to them. Perception is reality. I am possessed by my own perceptions; not by things and people, future and past, but by my perceptions of them. These are my connections, my attachments. Maybe all I really am is the sum of all these connections, these fearful longings and graspings. What is an attachment anyway? It’s a belief, that’s all. A strong one maybe, but just a belief. And yes, Jed, I know: No belief is true. The pen is mightier than the sword, isn’t it Jed? You wrote about a sword, but that was just a metaphor. It’s the pen. Spiritual Autolysis is the power of the pen, which is the power of the mind, the power to see, to see clearly. Yes, I will kill these people inhabiting my mind. I will kill them by clearly seeing the attachments that keep them here. I can see those attachments now. I can see the emotions at work and I am starting to see them for what they are. I am starting to understand of what stuff this prison of self is really made.”9 Enlightenment Trilogy, called Spiritually Incorrect I hope it is clear now what you are going to do as you go through daily life in your cocoon, first processing any physical or emotional discomfort that arises in your interactions with other people and the world “out there,” and then searching to find and let go of the false knowledge and emotional attachments that have formed layer upon layer of your ego, defining who you thought you were, until you discover who you really are. “The external searching is only one part of the story. The other part is the internal part; the slow, painful sloughing away of self, layer by layer, piece by piece. Spiritual self-debridement. Some layers of selfhood just fall away, some tear off in long strips or flabby hunks, and some have to be meticulously, pain-stakingly; surgically removed. Everything I had become in decades of life I now had to unbecome. All I really was was belief, so everything I believed I now had to unbelieve. My new world was cold and bright and honest, but my old mind was still full of a lifetime’s accumulation of belief and opinion and false knowledge and emotional attachment – all the noxious debris and toxic waste that make up the ego – and it all had to go. That’s a process and it takes time. The world might be annihilated in a flash, but self takes a little longer to burn away. There’s no bomb for that. There’s no pretty Latin phrase or Sanskrit mantra that annihilates self quickly or painlessly. There’s no realization or insight or epiphany that wipes away the false self in a flash. Those who claim to have awakened in a flash are the most deluded of all… “It should now be easy to understand that a true and complete spiritual teaching can be conveyed in three words [Who Am I?], while those that require entire libraries of books and legions of graybearded scholars to decrypt them can succeed only in producing ever more darkness and confusion. It should now be clear that there are no cases of instant enlightenment, that awakening is not the result of a single epiphany, but of a long, arduous journey wherein every step itself is a long, arduous journey. It should now be obvious that all dogma, beliefs, doctrines and philosophies are strictly dreamstate phenomena with no independent existence in truth. It should now be easy to look at any teacher or teaching, at any book, at any spiritual or religious assertion, and to instantly know its exact and certain value. It should now be easy to look at every internal thought, belief and emotion and know without the possibility of error what is real and what is imagined. It should now be clear that there is no room for debate or opinion with regard to what is true and what is false. The distinction is absolute: Truth exists. Untruth does not.”10 * * Robert’s Process and Spiritual Autolysis. I’m personally not aware of any other processes from other scouts that I know for a fact will work in your transformation into a butterfly. But, of course, you are always free to come up with your own process if you think you’ve found something “better.” I would caution you to remember that any process developed inside the movie theater will not work in the cocoon, simply because it’s based on incorrect premises (i.e., the movies are real). Now the opposite of everything is true, so you would be wise not to try to bring any process into the cocoon with you. Furthermore, any process you come up with inside the cocoon is going to have to include certain specific elements, like… …acknowledging there is no objective, independent reality “out there” and the experience you’re processing isn’t real …locating and letting go of all judgments, beliefs, opinions, and fears …withdrawing, disconnecting, or switching off any power assigned to a person, place, or thing within the hologram …expressing appreciation to the people, places, and things in your hologram for their role in your process, and to your Infinite I for its creations …identifying and detaching from the layers of the ego that were created while in the movie theater, always with the purpose of finding the true answer to “Who Am I?” In addition, any process must be done unilaterally and alone; that is, it cannot depend on anyone or anything else outside of you saying or doing anything at all. You initiate and run the process regardless of what anyone else does in your experience. No one else has to change anything; you just change your own reaction or response. It’s also worth repeating and emphasizing that while you can do Robert’s Process in your head, spiritual autolysis will only work well if you actually write it down. The problem with doing stuff in your head when it comes to dealing with your fears and the layers of your ego is that the ego, threatened with its annihilation, will begin fighting back, finding ways to justify your fears, fooling you into thinking the layer of ego you found is true and necessary to hang on to. So if you’re going to try to come up with your own process, you will have to find a way to get it out of your head, establishing some physical distance between you and what you are looking at. Who knows? You might, indeed, come up with a new process that can benefit others as well as you scout a new path across the Rockies. Then you can write a book about it!
desirelessness:Meanwhile, the processes from Robert Scheinfeld and Jed McKenna now have proven track records, so we know they work; and that’s saying something. In just two years, I have seen the kind of results using this combination of Robert’s Process and Jed’s spiritual autolysis that many people spend lifetimes in meditation and visualization and still never achieve. As they say in some 12-Step programs, it works if you work it, and it’s worth it.
desirelessness:If you apply yourself diligently and faithfully to whatever workable process you choose, I can tell you where you will end up. You will drop all judgments of everyone and everything. You will see nothing any more as “good” or “bad,” “better” or “worse,” “right” or “wrong,” “good” or “evil.” You will let go of all the beliefs you ever held, including the belief of who you thought you were. Your opinions will cease to exist and not be replaced. You will eliminate fear from your life, including the fear of death and non-existence, knowing everything is perfect exactly the way it is and there is never anything to be afraid of. In short, you will become… …nothing – a fully realized no-self,11 as others have called it – nothing but joy and appreciation and serenity of being. desirelessness:“Truly I have attained nothing from total enlightenment,” said the Buddha. A butterfly is nothing; and like the butterfly, you will finally be free – free of judgments and beliefs and opinions and false knowledge and ego attachments; free of drama and conflict and pain and suffering; “free to fly, fly away, high away, bye bye.”
FOOTNOTES 1. Wikipedia – Detachment – Back to reading 2. Thich Thien-An. Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice, pp. 104-112 – Back to reading 3. McKenna, Jed. The Enlightenment Trilogy – Back to reading 4. Cachalote.org – Back to reading 5. Julie’s spiritual autolysis in The Enlightenment Trilogy – Back to reading 6. McKenna, Jed. Ibid. – Back to reading 7. Wikipedia – Al-Anon – Back to reading 8. McKenna, Jed. Id. – Back to reading 9. Julie’s spiritual autolysis in Ibid. – Back to reading 10. McKenna, Jed. Id. – Back to reading 11. Giles, James. The No-self theory: Hume, Buddhism, and Personal Identity – “The no-self theory lets the self lie where it has fallen. This is because the no-self theory is not a theory about the self at all. It is rather a rejection of all such theories as inherently untenable.” – Back to reading