Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Attachment and Aversion

“There are principles to regulate attachment and aversion pertaining to the senses and their objects. One should not come under the control of such attachment and aversion, because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization.” ………Bhagavad Gita 3:34

This verse from Bhagavad Gita captures in it’s simplicity the whole essence of our relationship to sense objects. All created entities are subject to certain principles of operation and interrelationship. It is the action of the mind and the resultant consciousness which deviates from these set principles. For example, the sense of hunger is inbuilt into life so that the proper nourishment can be taken for survival and growth, but gorging oneself on food of whatever nature results not only in damage to the physical self but also creates unwanted reactions in the endocrinal system releasing hormones which cause excess reaction and unwanted responses.

We can understand attachment blinds one’s response system and leads to biased action whether it be in the physical or mental domain. When one becomes attached, there is a sense of identification with what one desires and the true attributes of the object of attachment can become distorted in this process. This is the reason that we need to let go of desire and attachment so that the true purpose for which an object is presented to the self can be fully appreciated. These are the natural principles that define an objects existential purpose.

In the same breathe with which Lord Krishna talks of attachment, he also talks of aversion. Aversion has to be understood as polar opposite of attachment and hence also requires an objective reference. What I mean by this is that in order to exercise aversion one needs a predefined set of attributes assigned to an object towards which aversion is exercised. This is another type of attachment.

A simple example is when I have an aversion for a person with a crooked nose. When I see a man with a crooked nose, my mind defines a predetermined desire to observe a man with a straight nose. This is an attachment which has been generated by an act of aversion. I stop to think about the true function of the nose on the human face and hence go beyond the ‘principles that regulate’ the purpose as purely a portal for breathing and smelling. A predetermined shape is an unwanted attribute assigned by an individual’s mind.

Attachment and aversion, beyond the control of set of principles, are individual choice which find their place in existentialism.
A central proposition of existentialism is that existence precedes essence, which means that the actual life of the individual is what constitutes what could be called his or her "essence" instead of there being a predetermined essence that defines what it is to be a human. Thus, the human beings – through their own consciousness – create their own values and determine a meaning to their life. This is the biggest fallacy of Existential philosophy.

If one is truly rooted in his or her universal essence then we understand the real purpose of sense objects and their role in creation with respect to the self.

Love to you all

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