I have pondered the terms “non-attachment” and “no expectations” and how they may relate to one’s spirituality and daily life experiences. It puzzles me when those who are deemed masters of the human condition and of spirituality suggest that we form no attachments and have no expectations. I on the other hand, fail to see how we would accomplish anything without some level of attachment and expectation at some point during the course of this thing we call life. Yes, I am a rebel! I don’t believe everything I read nor do I simply fall in line with a new train of thought just because a “master” said it is so. Lol!
(Kant) Wake up from your dogmatic slumber–Dare to doubt! Question everything that you assume to be correct. It is philosophy that must heal the wounded understanding of mankind, because philosophy is not a bewitchment of the intellect to be cured of (Wittgenstein), but a use of thorough going reason to be cured by (Socrates).
To better explain my point of view, let’s take a look at the English definitions of the two words in question.
1. The act of attaching or the condition of being attached.
2. Something such as a tie, band, or fastener that attaches one thing to another.
3. A bond, as of affection or loyalty; fond regard.
Attachment–a feeling of affection for a person or an institution
Fond regard, affection, affectionateness, philia, warmness, warm-heartedness, fondness, tenderness, heart–a positive feeling of liking. “He had no trouble expressing the affection he felt.”
Attachment–a supplementary part or accessory.
Add-on, addition, improver–a component that is added to something to improve it. “The addition of cinnamon improved the flavor.”
Attachment–faithful support for a cause or a state of being.
Adherence, adhesion, support–“Adherence to a healthy lifestyle was important to her.”
1. The act or state of expecting or the state of being expected
2. Something looked forward to, whether feared or hoped for, a prospect of future benefit or fortune: “We have great expectations for his future.”
3. An attitude of expectancy or hope; anticipation: to regard something with expectation.
4. The degree of probability that something will occur: “By adhering to a healthier way of eating and working out, she expects to improve her physical and mental health.”
Expectation–belief about (or mental picture of) the future.
Belief – any cognitive content held as true
Promise, hope – grounds for feeling hopeful about the future; “there is little or no promise that he will recover”
Foretaste – an early limited awareness of something yet to occur
Possibility – a future prospect or potential; “this room has great possibilities”
Expectation–the feeling that something is about to happen.
Feeling – the experiencing of affection and emotional states; “she had a feeling of euphoria”; “he had terrible feelings of guilt”; “I disliked him and the feeling was mutual”
Now that the English class is over, let’s take the meaning of the words “attachment and expectation” and apply them to your everyday life. For me, I looked at the attachment I formed with my newborn child and the obvious attachment my child formed with me. If I had not formed an attachment to my newborn and no one else was there to fill in the gap–sort of speak, do you believe my child would have thrived?
It’s a proven fact, she would not have thrived had I or someone not formed an attachment (a healthy attachment) to her or held expectations of being the best mother/parent/care giver one could be. Quite frankly, we both would have been on the losing end of an “unattached, no expectation” relationship.
For every positive experience in my life, attachments and expectations were crucial. Had I not held onto some level of expectations at being the best individual (with the many levels my individuality encompasses—mate, friend, mother, teacher, provider, etc.) then most likely, I would not have formed the appropriate attachment to a given course of action(s) or a path that would have led me to the place I wanted—expected to be.
In other words, how can I even be a thing without attaching myself to the expectation of being? And why stick with/attach oneself to anything if you don’t believe/expect it will pay off or be beneficial for self or others in some way? What would be the point? Exactly! We would eventually revert back to lumps of useless clay if we never attached to a course of action or expected more of and for ourselves. For no one can shape, mold, create, enhance (these are all forms an attachments) unless self desires, wants, believes–expects to be a different or greater vessel and no longer a lump of unformed (unaware) clay.
However, I do understand that far too often attachments and expectations can get out of hand. We’ve all heard of or witnessed first hand instances of fatal attachments by a loved one or a complete stranger. Their attachments and expectations became delusional, one-sided and sometimes dangerous. And we’ve also heard of some who through their desire for greater physical, mental or spiritual levels of growth have also formed similar fatal attachments and expectations. The initial intent may have been good, but the means and the end became too extreme.
Any extreme attachments and expectations, regardless of one’s initial intention of them being good, will create an imbalance. Balance is what is needed; balance in all things usually generates the best outcome. So, instead of denying my obvious need for some form of attachment and expectation, I allow myself to “attach” with a greater awareness of the process, with the end goal “expectation” being that of an individual in balance and in harmony with mind, body, soul and the Universe.
But, I do agree with not attaching yourself to only one particular course or outcome. Because sometimes the thing we thought we wanted and the way we thought we needed to go in order to acquire it, later turns out to be the very thing we were not ready for or didn’t need and it is better to let that notion go—become unattached from it. Again, I believe it is a balancing act of attaching and un-attaching, of expecting a particular result and in some instances having no expectations because you are ready and willing to accept whatever and however things come your way.
Yes, I am most definitely attached to my life course—my spiritual growth and a path that will hopefully lead me to unlimited, optimal experiences. And yes, I do expect to have both great and small accomplishments, be happy and sad, witness great beauty and ugliness, feel tenderness and pain, hear soul stirring harmonies and uncomfortable noise, and have the pleasure of tasting mouth-watering delights while rejecting what I refuse to acquire a taste for. Lol! Yes, I will continue to allow my attachments and expectations to come and go as needed.
To your attachments and expectations, may they be balanced and always in harmony. ~ ♥ Yvonne L. Jones