The best way to avoid attachments, clinging, and overindulgence is to think of the results of that kind of thinking. Attachment always brings some sort of anxiety, tension, and fear. When you are attached to something, you want to protect whatever it. If you don’t have it yet, all you can think about is how to get it, one way or another. That builds up an anxiety that makes the mind restless and so the attachment weakens your system. When you think of the outcomes of attachment, you will understand that attachment is not going to help you. If you are attached to a person, you neither help yourself nor the other person. But without attachment, if you just do your duty toward that person, with a sort of neutral love, your action will be perfect and the other person will also be benefited by your action. That is because you will have a cool and calm mind when you perform the action.

One example is that of a doctor who is performing an operation on his own wife. In other circumstances, he might be a very capable physician, but when performing an operation on his own wife he feels a little nervous and he hesitates. If you ask him why all of a sudden he is nervous he will answer, “Because she is my wife and if I hurt her, what will happen?” At that point, he seems to lose his capacity, even though it might be a minor operation. So the result of attachment is that you lose your own capacity. Whereas without attachment, you can do the same operation or even a more complicated one.

You may be handling a very delicate item such as a small glass statue. You love it so much and are so attached to it that as you pick it up to move it to another spot, you proceed very, very slowly. But your own attachment to it brings a fear of dropping it: Oh, if I drop it, what will happen? And then the very fear will make you drop it because your hand will shake! But without the attachment, you can pick it up and move it safely. If a parent is attached to their child, they may not even allow the child to study at a university in another state or country. They’ll say, “No, no, you are still too young. How can I be without you? Don’t go.” Another kind of attachment is giving the child anything they want and letting them do whatever they want. By that kind of attachment, we spoil our children. But if you think in terms of having a responsibility or a duty to train the child properly, then when it is necessary you will be strict and consistent. There could be two children who are fighting with each other. The mother of one of the children may go to see what is happening. Because of her attachment, even if she sees that it is her child who is the offender, she would say that her child is innocent and it is the other one who created the trouble. Attachment causes us to lose the ability to be objective, neutral; it makes you lose your balance.

Once you are attached to one thing, it means that you dislike or want to avoid another thing. You could be attached to your country to the extent that you are willing to die for it, and be willing to have another country destroyed. In World War II, we had suicide squadrons that would get into a bomb that was aimed at a ship and they would die with the bomb as it exploded on the ship. We might admire their national spirit that made them ready to die for the sake of their mother country. But, loving one’s country should not be an excuse to hate another country. Love of one’s religion should not allow us to condemn any other religion. Sometimes, fanaticism is the result of extreme attachment. You might like something so much that you cannot see any other point of view. Then, automatically, you dislike anything else.If you think of all the disadvantages of attachment, you will realize, that you can be much more helpful to another person, and to yourself, by thinking of your actions as a service or a duty. Then the action will be a yogic action, which means it will cause no harm and even do some good. A yogic action can only be performed without attachment; it is action for the sake of action, not for any selfish reason.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda