To Detach the Attachment
The Essence of Meditation
To be free from desire doing good deeds should be not for fulfilling desire but for trying to be free from desire.
Here we emphasize detachment. Detachment concerning your actions. You can pay attention to breathing, to the rising and falling of the abdomen, but you must not pay attention to your action and to what you are doing. This is the practice of detachment. Breathing is also to use-only, not to reject, not to attach. Rising and falling is also to use-only, not to reject, not to attach.
The aim of practicing meditation is to be free from attachment, not to know about breathing or about rising and falling. That is easy, every meditator can do that. But to be free from attachment is the essence of meditation.
Q1: When the mind knows about attachment, how to let go of attachment?
Sayadaw : You must abandon your habit. You might take care of your health, you might take care of your family; that is your attachment. You must be able to abandon your habit. You can take care of yourself but you must be able to abandon that action. You can take care of yourself. You must also practice not to take care of yourself. Not daring to abandon the action is attachment. To be free from attachment you must be mindful to whatever appears in the mind and body and you must be able to be mindful to each of your physical, verbal and mental actions. Besides you must be able not to pay attention to what you are doing now. You must be able not to pay attention to what is happening in your body and mind.
Q2: Should we be natural or try to be mindful all the time [intentionally]?
Sayadaw : You must be mindful but you must not pay attention to the action of mindfulness. If you are paying attention to your action of mindfulness it means you are grasping your action as “yours.” The Truth is: not “mine,” not “yours,” no “me,” no “you,” just Ever New Impermanent Nature. You can understand the Truth but you also must try to obey the Truth.
Q3: So when I start practicing what should I do? Pay attention to rising-falling?
Sayadaw : What you do is not important. Where you are staying is not important.
Q4: I used to practice Anapanassati or observing the feelings…I don’t know what we are doing here?
Sayadaw : That is attachment. You cannot stop paying attention to what you are doing and to what other yogis are doing. This is attachment. You must be mindful without attachment, without paying attention to your action.
(Sayalay: every method we use, we start to be attached to the method. Sayadaw can teach you how to detach from the method. So we practice to detach and not to become attached to the practice.)
Q5: What about walking meditation?
Sayadaw : You must understand: walking, sitting, standing and lying, all are to do-only. Not to reject, not to attach. If you are thinking about walking, sitting, lying, this is attachment. Attachment for something or someone. Walking, standing, sitting is concerning everyone, not only you. It is concerning everyone; nearly everyone can do it but no person is standing, no person is walking, no one is walking, no one is sitting, only cause and effect.
Sitting, walking, standing and lying are the powers of Impermanent Nature. No one is making the action. With this right understanding you must try to detach from yourself and from your actions. Now you can walk with attachment, you can sit with attachment. You cannot walk without attachment, you cannot sit without attachment. This problem concerns most of the meditators. You cannot solve this problem. You cannot detach from the action of sitting, walking, lying, and standing.
All the actions are to do-only, to experience-only, to know-only, not to pay attention to them. Now you pay attention to the action of sitting, walking. That is attachment. Attachment concerns your mind.
Q6: So we should be natural? Natural and mindful?
Sayadaw : Should be doing-only, knowing-only, experiencing-only, and using-only. There is someone or something behind your actions. This is attachment. You must detach from your action. You must be able to detach from something or someone, which is behind your action. If you meditate, someone is behind your actions. If you walk, someone is behind your action. That someone is not true, just wrong view, wrong understanding. Wrong understanding is controlling your action.
You must be able to detach from that wrong understanding. You must not pay attention to the practice of meditation. You must not pay attention to the yogis or meditators. You must pay attention to do-only, to use-only, to know-only and to experience-only. This is the Truth. You must pay attention to the Truth of doing-only, using-only, experiencing-only and knowing- only. You can walk, you can sit, and you can lie, but don’t forget the Truth of doing-only. No one is doing, not your action.
Q7: In the Mahasi method we have to note. Here you don’t need to note? Just be mindful? Or do we still need to note?
Sayadaw : If you wish you can do, but don’t forget the Truth of do-only, experience-only. You are doing with attachment, attachment for walking, attachment for sitting, attachment for noting. It is wrong. What you are doing is right but your understanding is wrong.
Q8: So we can note but not all the time?
Sayadaw : If you wish you can note, but not to be attached to what you are doing is most important. What you are doing is not important. Whether there is attachment or not for what you are doing is important. Because of attachment for the practice of meditation you pay attention to how to meditate.
Q9: So if the mind becomes in a state of equanimity, we have to detach from equanimity too?
Sayadaw : Whatever happens in your mind and body is not important. Whatever must happen will happen but what you must do is to detach from that happening. Not to pay attention to what you are doing now. You might stay here but where you are staying is not important. Not to pay attention to the place is important. To detach from this place is important. If you stay in Thailand you must try to detach from Thailand. If you stay in Myanmar you must try to detach from Myanmar.
You must not pay attention to the place, to the country. If you read the books...there are a lot of books about meditation. Which book you are reading is not important. You might practice according to the book but which method you are following is not important. The most important thing is to do-only, to do-only, to experience-only and to know-only without attachment, not to attach to what you are doing, not to attach to the method you are using, not to attach to the place where you are staying, not to attach to the mind you are using now. This is right understanding.
Try to do the right action by using the right understanding. Although you are meditating, you don’t know the Truth of meditation. You don’t know the key of meditation, the essence of meditation, which is to be free from desire, to be free from attachment.
Q10: So I practice whatever I can do without attachment? Practice anything but just without attachment?
Sayadaw : Yes, if you don’t meditate there will be attachment anytime, anywhere, for every action. In each of your actions there will be attachment. Attachment for the idea of “me” or “I,” “it is me” “I am doing,” “It is my action,” “It is my experience.” Understanding like this is attachment, attachment to the idea of “me” or “my.”
Q11: How to let go of attachment?
Sayadaw : Whatever we do we are using our own habit. We are used to speak like this, we are used to eat like this, and we are used to read like this. When you eat your breakfast or lunch, you might eat until your stomach is full. That is also habit. You might eat a little or eat too much. That is your habit. Everybody is eating. Everybody is doing, but we are using our own habit in whatever we do. That is attachment. Habits are to be done only. We don’t understand to abandon. This is why there is attachment. Not daring to abandon the habit is attachment. We are using our habits with attachment.