If we are very honest with ourselves we will often find our relationships with people, romantic and otherwise, are based on what we get out of it. We can quickly become attached to people and depend on them for our happiness and feel very distraught were they to be removed from our lives.
It’s easy to say attachment is normal, inevitable, and human. But the deeper question here is can you really love someone when you’re attached to them? If you depend on a person for your happiness it will inhibit the possibility of love.
Relationships can become like drugs. You’re happy when you have those wonderful feelings, sad when you don’t, and you are constantly seeking a repetition of those experiences you enjoyed with the other person.
These questions won’t come up when people are enjoying each other sufficiently or when they are caught up in the strife and conflict that will inevitably surface. These are difficult things to look at because one might have to face ugly facts like perhaps they have never really loved another without that love being corrupted by fear, dependence, and attachment.
We are human, and it’s not perfection or enlightenment that we are being measured against here. I am not even proposing non-attachment as an ideal. But certainly we must face the fact of what we are actually doing. And thus the title of this post.
Can you have deep closeness with another person without it breeding attachment and dependence? It’s fine to enjoy whatever is in front of you but thought and the mind won’t leave you alone once those things you like are not in front of you. We are frequently thinking about what we want or remembering past pleasures. But if we could live so freely in the moment without thought disturbing us, perhaps then we would be closer to being imbued with the quality of love.
He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged life destroy; But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity’s sun rise. — William Blake
Jiddu Krishnamurti was one of the first people I encountered who spoke with great depth on the subject of our relationships and attachments and about thought and what it does to us. These following two quotes give a taste of what he speaks of:
Listen carefully. You want to be loved because you do not love; but the moment you love, it is finished, you are no longer inquiring whether or not somebody loves you. As long as you demand to be loved, there is no love in you; and if you feel no love, you are ugly, brutish, so why should you be loved? Without love you are a dead thing; and when the dead thing asks for love, it is still dead. Whereas, if your heart is full of love, then you never ask to be loved, you never put out your begging bowl for someone to fill it. It is only the empty who ask to be filled, and an empty heart can never be filled by running after gurus or seeking love in a hundred other ways.
A mind that is seeking is not a passionate mind and to come upon love without seeking it is the only way to find it – to come upon it unknowingly and not as the result of any effort or experience. Such a love, you will find, is not of time; such a love is both personal and impersonal, is both the one and the many. Like a flower that has perfume you can smell it or pass it by. That flower is for everybody and for the one who takes trouble to breathe it deeply and look at it with delight. Whether one is very near in the garden, or very far away, it is the same to the flower because it is full of that perfume and therefore it is sharing with everybody.
Love is something that is new, fresh, alive. It has no yesterday and no tomorrow. It is beyond the turmoil of thought. It is only the innocent mind which knows what love is, and the innocent mind can live in the world which is not innocent. To find this extraordinary thing which man has sought endlessly through sacrifice, through worship, through relationship, through sex, through every form of pleasure and pain, is only possible when thought comes to understand itself and comes naturally to an end. Then love has no opposite, then love has no conflict.
You may ask, `If I find such a love, what happens to my wife, my children, my family? They must have security.’ When you put such a question you have never been outside the field of thought, the field of consciousness. When once you have been outside that field you will never ask such a question because then you will know what love is in which there is no thought and therefore no time. You may read this mesmerized and enchanted, but actually to go beyond thought and time – which means going beyond sorrow – is to be aware that there is a different dimension called love.
It’s a great challenge to be close to another but not dependent on them. It takes constant alertness and a strong dedication to self-observation. It takes an energy that is uncommon to be given to anything, unless there is immediate and obvious rewards. But when one starts to see that love and goodness are not possible without this alert watchfulness, it will naturally start to increase.
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