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Love, attachment and aversion

Sunday, 15 May 2011 - 3:05pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
The difference between love and attachment can be understood by this example. If mother loves her child, when the child falls sick, she will do her best to cure her. That is love. But if she herself falls sick by excess worry, that is attachment.

Patanjali has given five main causes of unhappiness in life. We have discussed how attachment (raga), one such cause, is a negative quality which brings unhappiness in life.

Attachments create a strong bondage with objects or persons we like. The difference between love and attachment can be understood by this example. If mother loves her child, when the child falls sick, she will do her best to cure her.

That is love. But if she herself falls sick by excess worry, that is attachment. Attachment is always counter-productive. Parents try to control their children and don't let them go away to fulfill their goals of life only out of attachments, not love. If we love someone we must do what is in his or her best interest.

The second cause of unhappiness is dwesha or aversion. It is always our desire to avoid things which we don't like. We have strong aversion for certain objects and situations. No one wants penury or sickness. We also have aversion to certain people who we perceived as responsible for our misery.  Dwesha creates a strong negative emotion in us which makes us feel sad.

In order to be happy, therefore, we need to watch out our attachments and aversions in life. Having identified our areas of weakness in this two, we need to remove them slowly. The way to remove them is simple.

Can we have a balanced view of life and see minus points of objects of attachment as also the plus points of objects of aversion? This means we have to think beyond the obvious and be fully aware. For example, we may have attachment to money. But we need to think - does money really make us happy?

We may have strong value for being famous. But do we see the bill (or pain involved) behind it? We need to see if we are losing true happiness while becoming famous or powerful. Once we see this negative side of our attachments, we can take a more matured view of life. And then attachments will not overpower us.

So also, unpleasant events and things have a role to play in our life. But we generally don't realise the positive side of unpleasant things or events. Even if we dislike bitter medicine, don't we take it? Unpleasant events and failures teach us a lot. We become tough and rugged by facing them. We may try to see to it that the same things are not repeated in our life. Also painful situation in our life makes us more sensitive and less arrogant.

We learn to distinguish between what can be changed and what cannot be. If we see these positive points we will not have strong aversions to unpleasant and unasked events of our life. This will make us less unhappy.

Otherwise the resentment caused by such unpleasant events can go deeper in our psyche and we may remain sad always. Also we need to appreciate that each one who comes across us in life has a unique background to his personality and that is why he or she is behaving like that.

There is no point in hating those people whom we don't like. We may at best try to avoid contact with such a person, but if that is inevitable, we need to sympathise with him or her. Probably, God has not given them enough love and care in their life to make them as good as you are. 

The author is an IAS officer of Gujarat cadre


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