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Attachment to Heaven Is the Only Hell

If summer by the beach is your idea of heaven, then winter could be hell for you.

It All Depends on How Attached You Are

We all prefer certain things over other things. That’s natural. But if a preference becomes attachment, then the seed of suffering is formed.

Attachment means that you no longer just have a preference, now you have to have it that way in order to be happy. It becomes dependence.

Preference means, “This is great. I love this so much.” Attachment means, “I need to have this all the time.”

That’s Where the Argument with Reality Begins

Because reality does not keep things the same for long. Reality is always cycling between between opposites. It is always changing. And if you want it to stay in your favorite position, you’ll be almost constantly fighting reality, and almost constantly losing.

And this, by most definitions, is hell.

When you’re attached, the only time you’re happy is when the conditions line up so that you get what you want. If you’re attached to summer, then you’re only really happy for a few months out of the year. And even during the summer months, you may not be fully happy because you know it won’t be long before summer fades away.

Attachment Creates Misery with Anything

If you’re attached to having money, then you will be miserable when you have less money. And you may be miserable even when you have lots of money for fear of losing it.

If you’re attached to romantic love, then you will be miserable when you don’t have it, or when it doesn’t last. You’ll call the “honeymoon” period of your life the best part of your life. And live in hope, that doesn’t fully cover sadness, for true love to come again.

If you’re attached to good health, then you will be miserable when health problems arise. Or you will live in fear of getting a health problem.

sine wave

You live for the peaks of life and try to avoid the valleys. And there is no peace.

All Suffering Comes from Attachment

In reality, money goes up and down, health goes up and down, love goes up and down. Everything goes up and down. If you want it to stay up all the time, it will wreck your emotions, drain your energy, and make you suffer.

But the good news is that all you have to do to find peace is to let go of your attachments. Just loosen the grip on what you want a little bit and life gets easier.

This Is Why I Love The Work of Byron Katie

It is a way to explore my attachments and to see if they represent my real truth or not. The Work uses suffering as the starting point because suffering indicates that I’m attached to something. I’m attached, I am fighting with reality, so I feel stress and strain.

The Work says, “Pay attention when you feel stressed. What are your stressful thoughts in that moment? Write them down and question them.” When you write your stressful thoughts, you’ll find that they are full of attachments: I want…, He should…, I need…, etc.

Then, when you question each of these stressful thoughts with The Work—when you find that “I don’t want…” is as true as “I want…,” and “He shouldn’t…” is as true as “He should…,” and “I don’t need… is as true as “I need…”—then the attachment loosens.

And the Mind Stops Fighting the Cycles of Nature

Through inquiry, the mind finds all the ways that winter is as good as summer. And all the ways that less money is as good as more money. And how no romantic love is as good as romantic love. And how health problems are as good as perfect health. It takes an open mind, and it is work, but it is a powerful inquiry.

If you can find genuine examples of how not getting what you want is as good as getting what you want, then you can be peaceful and happy no matter what life is giving you.

You can live in heaven even when the world around you looks like hell. This is freedom.

Have a great weekend,

“You do have the power, though, to question your thought, turn it around, and find three genuine reasons why the death of your child is equal to her not dying, or even better in the long run, both for her and for you. This takes a radically open mind, and nothing less than an open mind is creative enough to free you from the pain of arguing with what is. An open mind is the only way to peace. As long as you think that you know what should and shouldn’t happen, you’re trying to manipulate God. This is a recipe for unhappiness.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.