Connection versus Attachment

[This is a channeled message.]

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Dear friends –

Some of you recently celebrated your loving relationships on the 14th of this month. Others of you pretended not to notice the date. Still more found yourselves revisiting recent or distant hurts without consciously intending to do so.

In light of the above, we would like to discuss with you the difference between connection and attachment.

In the past, we have made statements like this:

Love doesn’t hurt. If you’re in pain, there is something else there.

In your realm of relating, hurt is a very real thing. Even those of you in loving relationships get hurt in little ways more often than you like. When we presented to you the idea that Loving is a purely selfish act, we opened a door to a new way…and yet there is more. Even if  you accept the concept that loving is purely selfish and enter into loving for that reason alone, there is still this whole issue of wanting. Rather than pursue these ideas directly, let us discuss connection and attachment.

As always, analogy is – in our opinion – a magnificent tool. So let us paint a picture for you. In our scene we have a human and his beloved dog. For the sake of detail, picture a medium to large dog, youthful, energetic, and willful. I am sure you’ve all met dogs like this. The one we imagine is quite a joy and not the slightest bit trained. Now imagine taking that dog for a walk on a leash. For specificity, imagine a fixed-length leash made of leather.

And then, entering the scene is a squirrel. You can easily guess what happens next. The beloved pet at your side becomes the wild beast he is descended from. If one neglects to pay attention, the experience can certainly get ugly, as the dog rushes towards his desired prey.

If you wish, play the scene forward some in your mind. Remember, you love and adore this four-legged creature, but you simultaneously abhor some of his behavior.

So now let’s discuss the difference between connection and attachment.

Connection is likened to a leash, except it is variable in length and more elastic than a bungee cord. In fact, the leash we are visualizing is magical. It can extend to any length at any rate without pulling or fear of snapping. And it magically and smoothly shortens as the dog and his owner come back together with no recoil and no tangling.

With such a cord, the dog and human remain connected, and yet each retains full freedom of movement. The dog is free to chase the squirrel all the way up the tree if he is able, and the human suffers not. There is no fear of the dog running away or getting lost, for the human can always follow the magical leash to find his beloved companion.

What we have shown above is a connection that is made with love – true love – for in such a case complete freedom is retained by both parties. They are always free to separate and yet the magical cord keeps them connected. In reality, much can be conveyed through this cord. Thoughts and emotions flow freely down its length regardless of distance. And, of course, each member is free to listen or not to what comes down the line.

So now that we have acquainted you to the idea of connection, let us repaint this picture using attachment instead. Most of you have probably returned to the original image of the dog, the owner, and the fixed-length leather leash, but we have not. A truer approximation of the attachment that you experience is via glue. So now imagine that the dog and the owner are attached via another magical substance, one that more resembles carnival taffy. This substance is somewhat elastic, but with recourse. The more it is stretched, the firmer it becomes. And it adheres to the skin as if with superglue. Since you always imagine loving with the heart, this gooey, sticky, stretchy leash is attached directly to your chest.

Now imagine what occurs when your beloved beast willfully runs after a squirrel. Yes, the taffy leash stretches, and as long as the dog stays near, the pull is not so bad. But what happens when he doesn’t obey and instead runs farther and faster, entranced by the retreating squirrel? Well, yes, you get tugged at painfully. Your skin has little give. The more it is pulled, the greater the pain you experience. If your beloved pet escapes your field of vision altogether, it can feel as if your very heart is ripped from your chest.

We don’t suggest you take our image too much further – especially the squeamish. You get the picture. When you attach yourself to another being, you are subject to all sorts of forces. Attachment is not sufficiently flexible. The more rigid the hold, the more it hurts when your beloved does not comply. Our picture may seem extreme, but we know that many of you experience just such a pain.

So clearly, to achieve the greatest pleasure with the least pain, one needs to connect as with the magical cord, fully utilizing what it provides, yet keep clear of the sticky, taffy attachment. To some, this might sound simple, at least intellectually, but how, pray tell, do you put it into practice?

As with any new construct, it may take some time to absorb. So as you think about it, and play with it, consider the following:

Any time you place restriction on another, you do so via attachment.

See, you cannot really control what another does, so in restricting them (with vows perhaps), you simply establish a commitment to experience pain when the other does not comply. Do you realize that when you proclaim “to death do us part” you are really saying “I vow to suffer maximally every time you move further away from me than I can handle and/or in a direction I did not anticipate or approve.”

Furthermore: since any time you place restrictions on another, you do so via attachment, this also means that:

Any time you place restrictions on another, you place restrictions on yourself.

The more you limit another, the more you box yourself in. When things don’t go as you wish, you then suffer.

For many of you, the attachment is to concepts. You attribute all sort of meaning to the actions of others. When the object of your affection does (or doesn’t do) one thing or another, you draw all sorts of unpleasant conclusions. We can delve into examples, but I’m sure you get the picture. Those of you who might be suffering at present from current or recent circumstances know precisely of what we speak.

There is no need to fret or worry, as we always say, for there are many paths to well being and many teachers to guide you there. You needn’t do anything you don’t want to do because in following guidance, you will find something that resonates, brings comfort, and follows your own pace.

Ask and open up to receive; that’s all it takes.

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2 thoughts on “Connection versus Attachment

  1. Attachment to the dog allows the companion of the dog to also help save the squirrel… Likewise if the companion of the dog is in trouble we’ve all heard stories of a dog protecting its human friend…

    Attachment is a powerful, positive thing. If it is treated with mutuality… Give and take… Sharing attitude… One partner sits through a football game with their partner and next week same couple are watching the marriage of Figaro… It’s not the football game or the opera that the opposite partner is there to be entertained by… It’s the love of the partner and their attachment…

    You write as if attachment is possessive which it is not… It’s not about the relationship between kidnapper and kid… It’s about wanting to be by the side of someone you love… by choice…

    Like

    1. The attachment you speak of matches the Merriam-Webster definition [from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/attachment%5D “strong feelings of affection or loyalty for someone or something.” In this regard, everything that you speak of is something I would agree with.

      Now consider this quote: “Attachment is the emotional dependence we put on things, or people, with some degree of our survival interwoven into the precious thing we hold so dear.” [from http://tinybuddha.com/blog/let-go-of-attachment-you-can-be-happy-even-if-things-change/%5D. That is the attachment this article addresses.

      When I received your comment, I looked up the definition of attachment and was actually surprised to find only the definition you refer to. Whenever I hear the word, I always think of the second definition above.

      What this article calls “connection” is the true connection based on love that interestingly matches your definition (and the dictionary definition) of attachment. What it calls “attachment” matches how I think of the word, in other words: emotional dependence (or maybe co-dependence).

      Given the dictionary definition, my article should be renamed True Connection versus Emotional Dependence.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

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