Recently I began to better understand what Buddhists and philosophers, such as Alan Watts, have explained as detachment. The meaning of detachment is not being attached to a particular feeling or pleasure (Also my interpretive definition). Conversely, we are encouraged to accept our feelings and let them pass, without having to question or reason them. We are not attached. They are not us. They are simply a feeling in the present time and only in the present time. Thus, it will also soon pass.
As advocates of this practice suggest, being attached to a positive feeling or an indulgent pleasure, for example, can only lead to disappointment due to our desire to infinitely feel this elation. Think about how often our feelings change in just a day’s time. We are constantly experiencing the fluctuation, yet rather than accepting this as normal, we beat ourselves up over not maintaining ecstasy.
I would have to argue that life would be much easier if we could recognize, accept and let go of the need to feel good all of the time. I mean, it would put so much less pressure on ourselves if we can understand that feelings are not infinite, they are contrarily meant to last for only a short period of time.
If we can detach ourselves from this unrealistic expectation we set for feelings we can often not control, we can have peace, be free from worry and even better, free from thought. Perhaps some might argue this is “setting low expectations” for our lives, and maybe it does sound that way. But rather it is about not having expectation AT ALL. Being free from expectation, not to have them low or high, just to not have it at all.
Expectation is a product of perception, something we anticipate, try to predict and try to fabricate as a result of this attachment to a desire to feel satisfied. Let me ask you a few questions….
How many times did something or someone not meet your expectations? I’ll take a guess and say….
Hundred, thousands of times.
How many times DID something or someone meet your expectations? I would assume…
Far less often.
Were you more satisfied in the achievement of reaching an expectation or more disappointed by not meeting an expectation? I’ll take one last guess and say…
It felt much worse experiencing that disappointment than it felt good to meet expectation because of how much more intensely it is in our nature to remember a negative emotion greater than the positive.
With all of this being said…
What was the culprit of this feeling you so greatly tried to avoid all along?
Expectation and our attachment to the desire for it to be fulfilled.
Conclusion to this thought is, once again easier said than done, the practice of detaching from our feelings and pleasures allows us to just experience and move forward without judgment, thought or question.