For me, the concept of “Be Here Now” is closely intermingled with the Buddhist concept of nonattachment. When I was first exploring world religions as a freshman in college, I was immediately fascinated by this concept – mainly because it really pissed me off. I found myself in love with so many of the Buddha’s teachings but just could not wrap my mind around this one. I thought, “Who on Earth would want to be unattached? I love life, I love my friends, family, animals, the planet, so deeply that I want to burst. Isn’t that where the joy lies? Wouldn’t God – If God exists (yes, I was totally in that phase) want us to love and connect in this way? Who the hell does Buddha think he is anyway”! Whoooo! Good thing Buddha couldn’t send me to hell like Jesus could (if hell exists that is).
Seriously though, the whole idea just felt cold and confusing. Do I have to be removed, unaffected, and unemotional to reach enlightenment? Because if so, I’d better saddle up, buckle down, and batten down the hatches because I’m in for a long ride! The nonattachment stuff may work for a monk meditating alone in a cave for 30 years but what about those of us that live in this world surrounded by those that we love deeply?
Then, one evening I was watching an interview with the Dalai Llama. He was speaking about the violence, oppression, loss, and sorrow that his people had experienced in Tibet. He openly described his anguish, heartache, and even tears. Looking at his face I realized that surely there was something I had missed. The idea of non attachment must be far richer than I had ever realized.
To the person I have become, the practice of nonattachment is the very thing that teaches us to live in the here and now. It is NOT being unaffected or unloving but rather being deeply affected, and loving fully with every inch of your being. Loving so much, in fact, that the most humble self comes through, the self that realizes that, though I love this person, situation, life, it is not mine to hold or control. The nonattached self breathes in what it loves and breathes it out just as freely- relishing in the joy of the moment, yet accepting that it will pass.
This is not to say that it is wrong to mourn the passing of these experiences, for one emotion is no less human, divine, or valuable than another. I was just reminded of this today when I came upon an old journal entry of mine that I wrote during a difficult time. It read, “feeling loss is a reflection and a reverence for what you once had.” Loss and grief are real, and painfully beautiful – it is loss paired with regret for the moments we had, but were not fully present for, that is devastating.
So go on- for the love of god – and this crazy realm of ours, love! Love! Love! Feel! Feel! Feel! And wrap yourself up in the sometimes-cozy-and-sometimes-cold-and-wet-but-always-impermanent blanket that is the human experience. Your soul will thank you.
A friend of mine so succinctly put it when she was speaking about a tentative new relationship she was entering. I was setting a bad example of nonattachment and expressing my fear that there was a high risk for heartbreak in the situation. She sighed and said, “I know I could get hurt, but there is something there with this person that’s worth exploring. I’m not counting on it, but I’m thankful for it while it’s here.” Buddha himself could not have put it better.
As always, just because monkey say doesn’t always mean monkey do (I am the monkey in this scenerio) and I am learning, falling, and growing right along with you. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions for new entries. Be well, my friends!