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Tuesday, 03 January 2012 05:10

Attraction, Repulsion and Non-attachment

Written by  Krishna Bhatta e
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Attraction, Repulsion and Non-attachment

Patanjali Yoga Sutra “Attraction, and through it, attachment, is towards anything that brings pleasure. Repulsion is from anything that causes Pain”

Attraction causes attachment. Repulsion causes detachment. Our world generally revolves around different degrees of attraction and repulsion. It is similar to talking about hot and cold. They sound opposite but are just different scales of temperature. When we say hot we generally do not mean boiling hot and when we say cold we do not necessarily mean freezing point. Our world revolves around different degrees of temperatures and similarly it revolves around different degrees of attachments and detachments.

Hot is not bad or good. Attachment also is not necessarily good or bad. Similarly detachment also is not necessarily good or bad. Detachment from this world does not make any one holier than thou either. Krishna uses a word, “Kama.” Energy of kama operates in both attraction and repulsion (see Gita verses below). Kama is the root for words like kamadeva (god of Kama) and Kama sutra (the famous book about sexual energy). Kamadeva uses bow and arrow as well, but his arrows have flower at the end. There is no surface injury but there may be deep repercussions from that arrow.

We know of common attractions and feel happy about being attracted to some one dear. We get married because we are attracted to our spouses. We get children out of love and we love our children out of attractions too. The big question is if we are in attraction to any one of these relations all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Do we some times feel repulsed? Do we think of divorce and do we sometimes go through the process of divorce. Life for most of us swings between attraction and repulsion.

Who knows better about attraction and repulsion more than the moviemakers or politicians? President Obama can not do anything wrong if you are a democrat. You must have watched the movie, “Superman.” The character is created to attract you. Superman is a super hero.

Super attraction:

I once was talking with a politician friend in India. He mentioned that once you taste the powers of politics, you would like to work for any one else. I had an opportunity to travel with him once and I could see why. The roads were cleared. There were no red lights or speed limits and there were escort cars in front and in the back. There is no body to question them but they can question anybody and everybody. Does it explain why they hold on to their powers?

Patanjali Yoga Sutra- “By being nonattached to even these powers, The seed of bondage is destroyed. Then follows kaivalya, liberation.”

Yet, there are other attractions that supersede these ordinary attractions. Spiritual powers produce the ultimate attractions and attachments. They are the hardest ones to give up. We do not even know about them because we hardly come across any of them powers. Swami Ramakrishna had one such dilemma. He could visualize mother Kali in his meditation (dhyana). He was able to converse with her at will. We cannot even imagine how he could get to this level. But, he wanted to go beyond to nirakar Samadhi (the ultimate abode). He had to take help of his Guru Totapuri. The story goes that his Guru advised Swami Ramakrishna to divide mother kali in two pieces.
“How do I do that” asked Ramakrishna.
“Use a sword” answered Totapuri
“Where do I get a sword.”
“Same place you got Ma Kali” said Totapuri

Ramakrishna was a smart person. He finally gets the sword but is unable to use it on mother Kali. How can he kill mother Kali who he has been worshipping and communicating with all these years. There was attraction; there was attachment. Totapuri offered to cut his forehead with a glass and he did and at that very time Ramakrishna used the sword on Ma Kali. She was gone and Ramakrishna was in his final abode.

There are similar stories of attractions posed by Mara before Buddha got enlightened. The path of spirituality is full of attractions. Many get stuck at various levels where they are happy showing minor miracles. Their progress gets impeded and they may have to start fresh from that point at a later date.

So, what is non-attachement:

Not attachment happens out of realization. It is knowledge and awareness happening together. It is not something that can be practiced. It is not a choice; in fact such a person lives in choice-lessness. He simply knows what he has to do and where he has to go. It is as if a new vision has happened; as if a new set of glasses or contact lens has been worn. I am myopic and I know the difference without glasses and with glasses.

Let us try to understand with a simple example. You are walking along. Let us presume you can see. There is a tree in front of you and there is a wall on the left. There is a path that swerves around the tree on the right. You have to keep going. It is obvious that you will not try to go through the wall or the tree. You will take the path on the right because you can see the tree and the wall clearly.

It is simple to understand this example of a tree. Attraction and repulsion or let us say attachment and detachment is a different story. It is a moving target. The level and quality of attraction changes on a spiritual path as described above. Yet, if the reality of non-attachment is understood, the path becomes as clear as the example of the tree. He can see attachment and he can see non-attachment. He does not react; he responds.

Attachment and detachment both produce expectations. I am planning to visit my son. Every time he comes home I go and pick him up. He should come and pick me up is my expectation. I am disappointed if he does not show up. He can see the disappointment in my eyes and gets upset. He expects me to understand why he could not come. I do not understand because he could have done x y or z to make it happen. I could be nice and try to understand his situation. I could be detached and not care if he comes or not. If I am non-attached, I am happy if he comes and happy if he does not. I can see the attachment, I can see the expectations, I can see the frustrations and most important of all I can see the vicious cycle that will start by disappointments and frustrations.

A non-attached person still walks, still enjoys the scenery and still picks up the fruits on the path. He simply knows the ultimate truth of non-attached existence. Attachment and detachment are construct of our minds; they do not really exist. They start with our births and end with our deaths and once the truth is really known, they do not exist even during those times. Life goes on without attachment. Nothing changes on the outside, yet everything changes inside.


3:36 to 3:42

Arjuna says


Hey Krishna: what then
Compels an individual to,
(Not wanting to do anything bad
As if forced by unknown energy)
Commit sinful acts and deeds. ||3:36


Bhagavan speaks


Of the three basic attributes (gunas)
(Similar to the three basic forces of nature)
Rajoguna is the one, which imparts motion
And is the origin of Kaama, the basic source
For anger or other desires,
This kaama Is the one that
You have to know and master
Because this basic kaama
Is the real root cause of problems
And can be seen as a foe for all human kind. ||3:37||


As the fire is enveloped by smoke,
A mirror is covered by dust and
A membrane covers an embryo
Similar is the situation for an ignorant
Where the wisdom is clouded by
The energy of kaama (anger or desires) ||3:38||


Fire burns and burns
It gets fiery and fierier
As you put food to the fire
(Ghee, butter or wood)
The fire is ever hungry
Its appetite never to be satisfied


Similar is the nature of
The energy of kaama
You must recognize
O son of Kunti
Kaama can never be fulfilled
And that by nature
Is the problem of this basic source kaama
(Of all the anger, jealousy and other desires). ||3:39||


This basic source of greed, desire and anger
That we call Kaama
Has a home in
The indriya, mun (wishing mind) and intellect (buddhi)
And that is what it uses to cover the wisdom
That we so much need and like
But this kaama keeps us busy
At the level of deep desires (moha) ||3:40||

Osho - IT is very difficult to be nonattached in the world, but it is even more difficult to be nonattached when the spiritual world opens its doors. The difficulty of the second is a million fold because the worldly powers are not real powers. They are impotent; and they never satisfy you, they never make you contented. In fact every new achievement in the world creates more desires. Rather than satisfying you it sends your mind into new trips, so whatsoever power you attain in the world, you use it only to create new desires.

Whatsoever money you can gather in the world, you invest it to gain more money. Then the more money comes; you invest it for still more money; and this way it goes on. Only means and means and means, and never does the end come closer. So even a stupid person becomes aware sooner or later that he is moving in a vicious circle and there seems to be no way out of it -- except to drop out. For an intelligent person -- one who thinks about his life, meditates about it -- it is very obvious.

So nonattachment is not so difficult in the worldly things, but when it comes to the inner powers, the psychic powers, they are so close to your being and so infinitely satisfying, it is almost impossible to be nonattached to them. But if you are not nonattached, then you have again created a world and you will remain far, far away from the ultimate liberation……….

Osho – These are your two ways of being here in the world: you are attracted towards something which you feel causes pleasure, you feel repelled, repulsed by something which you think causes pain. But if you become more and more alert, you will have a total mutation. You will be able to see that whatsoever causes pleasure also causes pain — pleasure in the beginning, pain in the end. Whatsoever causes pain also causes pleasure — pain in the beginning, pleasure in the end. These are the two ways in the world……….

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 January 2012 11:37
Krishna Bhatta e

Krishna Bhatta e

A practicing Urologist, Dr Bhatta developed his interest in Bhagavad-Gita from a very young age. He was exposed to the teachings of Gita from his father. He has a love for our scriptures including Upanishads and Vedas.


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