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Do Love And Attachment Go Together?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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Questioner (Q): What is the difference between attachment and Love ?

Acharya Prashant (AP): There is a Story about a woman, a rural woman, an illiterate woman, who did not know how to read. So, she was in her village and her lover was a soldier, serving in some far off land. He would write her letters and the woman had no way of reading those letters, she was illiterate. The only way she could have read them was by using somebody else’s services. But, because the letters were from her lover, intimate letters, she didn’t want somebody else to read them. So, when the letters would arrive, she would not even open the envelope. She would kiss the letters, keep the letters close to her heart, and carry them everywhere she would go. If she is travelling, there would be a small case containing those letters. Eating, the letters are next to her. Sleeping, the letters are by her side. Then one day one of her close friends visited her, she knew how to read, and because she was her close friend, this woman could trust her to read those letters. One by one she read out those letters, this woman heard those letters. She cried in joy, tears were rolling down her cheeks and having heard the contents of the letters, she came to a point where she didn’t feel the need to carry them all the time with her.

Earlier the letters used to be an unspoken promise, a promise unheard of, something waiting to happen, and she would be very very attached to them. Now the contents of the letters were revealed, and she could keep the letters in some place safe. The urge to carry them reduced. But, still she had stocked them, she would look at them, they meant a lot for her. Then one day, her lover returned. And together they decided to go and visit places, travel, tour, enjoy and when these two had gone out, she discovered, that she had forgotten to carry the letters and neither did she feel bad, nor guilty.

Attachment is just a promise. Attachment is lack of fulfilment. Attachment is a substitute of Love. Because the real thing is not available so, I am holding on to an alternative, it is like those letters. And more the distant the real thing is, the more is the attachment. Till the time she had not read the letters, she would not even keep them away. When she had read the letters, she could at least keep them away and after the lover came home, she could even forget the letters. There was no need to be attached; because now love is there and when love is there, then, why be attached?

A fake thing never really can be a substitute for the real thing, that is the bad news. The good news is, attachment even if it is fake, at least tells us of an urge to get the real thing. So, it is a good piece of news.

If you find yourself attached, it means there is a desire for Love; it means there is a call for Love. Now it depends on you, you can either get stuck at attachment, you can either get stuck with the letters, or you can move ahead to the lover. Are you getting it? When the lover is there, attachment is not possible. Attachment is there only when the lover and Love are absent.

You know what attachment says, “If I keep the letter away, then something might be lost. So, let me keep this thing close to my heart, let me remain attached to it.” There is a threat, there is a fear. Love says,” I have already had all that could be had, there is no reason to stick to something, there is no reason to get fixated, there is no need to be thinking about somebody, there is no need to be physically close to somebody all the time.” And that brings us to another point, what are we attached to? Are we ever attached to the real thing? You say you are attached to an idea, or you are attached to a gadget, or a car, or you are attached to a person, a family member, a friend. When you say you are attached to something, is it not always the physical, the material, the bodily, that you are attached to? Is the attachment not always with the exterior? Or, can you ever be attached to the essence? And if I am attached to somebody’s physical presence, then, can I ever go beyond his physical presence? Would love really be possible?

Think of this, the lover comes home and the women is still attached to letters and is ignoring the lover. If she is still attached to the letters, would she listen to what now he is saying directly in front of her? She is attached to her words, she is attached to the past, and the lover is right in front of her. Attachment is always to an object, always. And as long as you are dealing with objects, you cannot have Love. You will only have attachment. In fact, Love is so very objective, that it does not even require a living being.

Attachment is something that is possible even with materials, not that a conscious entity is getting attached to a material, even a material can get attached to another material. If I leave these materials on this table for a time long enough, they’ll get attached. You know of molecular diffusion, don’t you? Just as gasses mix with each other, similarly solids also mix with each other, albeit, at a very slow rate. They’ll get attached. Body meets body, physical meets physical, material meets material, and they are attached. It is such a dead thing; attachment. It has nothing of the present in it, all it requires is time; past, and future, it does not care for the present. Give it long enough time and attachment will happen. And Love has nothing to do with past or future. It is not in memories. When you are with your lover, are you thinking of what happened two years back? If you are really with him. Are you dealing with him or his image?

So, in Love there is a timelessness. In attachment, there is only time and time, memories, and a wait, and a wait, and a wait, that something real will happen. Which is good we said, because in attachment, you realise, that you are waiting for something real to happen. It’s just that attachment tells you, that the real will happen in the future. So, let me keep waiting. You say, “Let me remain attached, by remaining attached maybe one day, Love will happen”, it’s not possible. By remaining attached to the envelope, will you meet the lover one day? Is it possible? By remaining attached to the envelope, will you get to read the letter one day? Is it possible? It will not happen. But attachment makes a false promise, it says “Stay with this man, and maybe one day the climax of love will materialise.” It will not. Just by staying with something over a period of time, no movement happens, no depth comes in the relationships.

That is why you see people remaining together, for years and years and yet, there is no depth in their relationship. Because their relationship is just body-to-body, thought-to-thought, image-to-image. This relationship can be very easily shaken. There is so much of confusion, doubt, and suspicion in such relationships. One small shake up, and the relationship collapses. Have you not seen such things? And those people have been together since a long time. Living together, being together, just gives you attachment. And yes, if you are together with something, attachment will surely happen. If you have been riding a bike since two years, you will get attached to it. Does it not happen?

Have you seen that? you might be living in a hostel room, but when you have to vacate it, you look at it wistfully “oh my god I am vacating it” and you knew, you always knew it was a hostel room, but just because you have stayed in it for one year, a little bit of attachment happened, did it not? And when you come back to the hostel after passing out, as an alumnus, you go back to that room and you say, “You know, I used to live here.” You are still attached, does that not happen? And you call that your fond memories.

So, attachment is just time. If you have spent time with anything, it gets imprinted in the memory and that is attachment. And we are saying that attachment presents itself as a substitute for real relationship, which is bad. And attachment is an indicator that you are waiting for the real relationship, that is good. So, if you get easily attached then realise, that, you are waiting for something more real, more promising, more fulfilling.

Have you seen people who get easily attached? They would spend two hours with a co-passenger in the train and while exiting the train they will want to take all the details, and say you know it was great spending time with you, this and that, some of them might even start crying, I don’t know. If there is such a man, he needs Love, attachment will not help him. But Love is demanding. Love is only for those who value freedom. Love is only for those who value Truth. Love is not for those who make cheap compromises by just remaining attached. So, I am repeating one last time, if you find yourself getting attached, know that a fake is presenting itself as a substitute for the real and also it is good news, because, now you know what you are waiting for, so, you cannot be misled. You are waiting for the real thing.

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