I fondly hope that the visual illustrations will help to remind us that ‘Loving Without Attachment’ doesn’t have to mean pushing people away, but neither should we ‘cling’…… Read on……

How many of you have thought about loving without attachment or what that even means? It’s a tricky concept to understand and live, it has been for me. To love without attachment means we open our hearts to another but we don’t control or possess them. It’s not something we can consciously embark upon, or learn.. definitely tricky! We must shun the ingrained concept of wanting to ‘own’ another(..you’re mine!) , because neither do I want to be owned(..I’m yours!). 

In the splendid book, The Way to Love, The Last Meditations of Anthony De Mello; Anthony suggests we say to our love, “I leave you free to be yourself, to think your thoughts, to indulge your taste, follow your inclinations, behave in any way that you decide is to your liking.” 

He adds: “The moment you say that, you will observe one of two things: Either your heart will resist those words and you will be exposed for the clinger and exploiter that you are; so now is the time to examine your false belief that without this person you cannot live or cannot be happy. Or.. your heart will pronounce the words sincerely, and in that very instant all control, manipulation, exploitation, possessiveness, jealousy will drop.”

What do you think? When a friend first read those words to me I wasn’t ready to accept them. I responded with the resistance De Mello describes. But I know, now, this is how I want to live, although I’ll admit it’s not always easy, but at the same time it is so liberatingly ‘right’!

The fact is; we can never really own another and I don’t believe we’re meant to. Nor are there any guarantees, as much as we would love there to be. Loss is simply a part of life. We can lose those we love to death and we can lose them to other relationships. Sometimes love in the ‘owning’ sense, just dies. The person I love could meet someone tomorrow who draws them away from me. This does not make either of them bad people in spite of what our society may say. Love happens, relationships finish. We all know this. Most of us have experienced it at one time or another. But that hurts, so we still long for the fairy tale, don’t we? And sometimes love does last a lifetime. Let’s celebrate it when it does, but let’s lovingly release it when it doesn’t. As hard as it is, when a relationship completes itself we are meant to move on. When the lessons we came together to learn have been gained, we are supposed to let go. I think part of loving is knowing when to do that, if that time comes.

De Mello goes on to say, “Your beloved will then belong not to you but to everyone or to no one, like the sunrise… 

In saying those words you have set yourself free. You are now ready to love… Love can only exist in freedom. The true lover seeks the good of his beloved which requires especially the liberation of the beloved from the lover.”

Loving without attachment doesn’t mean we love less. I think it actually means we love more. We love with our hearts fully open, but we don’t hold to any sense of ownership. And we take responsibility for finding our own happiness within. We don’t depend on the love of a particular other to create it for us. In loving like this we make our own lives which we can then share with another if we choose… I’m convinced that this is real love. 

In the past, I wasn’t aware of how deeply I’d internalised our societal beliefs about relationships. So now I’m sifting through them, and attempting to shed those that do not serve. Neither did I have the self-confidence or internal peace needed for a non-possessive kind of commitment to work. I’m now so grateful for the enlightenment that has been granted to me, that I cannot only ‘see’ all this, but to so happily live it, too. But… it has taken most of my mortal span to go through all that has been necessary for me to reach this point. But… that’s what life is for, isn’t it?

We can’t all snap our fingers and suddenly be transformed into people who seamlessly love within the kind of freedom DeMello is talking about. It can be a life-long process of growth and discovery; an ongoing learning.. two steps forward, one step back, as they say. But.. I can assure you that the journey is so very worth the time and effort. 

There are few role models to follow so we have to make it up as we go along, and hope that the right signposts will appear. 

I now believe it’s a good way to learn to live, with complete autonomy for both people in a partnership, who each have a genuine desire for the other’s good. 

My thanks to Jean Weigel and Anthony De Mello for their inspiration which helped me with this article. 


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