It’s not one’s opinions that are the problem,
but one’s attachment to them.
I died my fair share of deaths until I learned to unlearn
everything I had known up to that point.
from his memoir, “Fire and Ashes”
2013 has been a fairly interesting year. I’ve spent a lot of time this year reflecting on attachment, and, experimenting with a few of my attachments. Attachment is behind all of the uglier human behaviours that we experience. I must admit that I’ve had a chance to witness very strong attachments this year in people close to me. I feel grateful to have had this experience because, while painful for those involved, my degree of resolve has deepened to not go to the same places myself. They say other people act as mirrors, if only we choose to look.
My experiment has been more at the thinking level; trying to remain a little ‘loose’. Deciding that I have to remain open to the possibility of “What if?” or “Maybe this is not what I’m meant to do/be”. What I’ve experienced is that each time I open up to possibilities and let go of my ideas of what I’m doing or where I’m going, I have been rewarded with either a confirmation of what I’m doing or some new possibilities I hadn’t thought of. I’m trusting a lot more than I have before.
I think Michael Ignatieff has it right, it’s not about learning something new but unlearning – possibly many lifetimes worth of ideas of how things should go. We also have the beautiful example of the blind Dhritarashtra in the Bhagavad Gita – wherever there is attachment we become mentally blind and we lose our capacity for discrimination. We don’t want to see the consequences of our own actions.