Sutra Sunday: A lesson in Non-attachment

A little late… What completely destroying my cell phone taught me.

drstanusraikavisayavitrsnasya vasikarasamjna vairagyam

“The consciousness of self-mastery in one who is free from craving for objects seen or heard about is non-attachment.”

I completely destroyed my cellphone.  Annihilated it.  Sent it to cellphone heaven.  And I’m ok with it.

I had an iphone.  It was expensive.  I loved it.  It held all my appointments and contacts and synced everything to my computer.  I checked it a million times a day.  I was amazed at how efficient I felt while banking in a parking lot or emailing from the bank line.  Amazing what these smartphones help you do.  I quickly became attached.

The other day I dropped it on the floor.  I had taken the cover off to help the phone fit in a dock player at the yoga studio and hadn’t gotten around to replacing it.  I liked how little it felt without my big bulky case.  In a matter of seconds the screen was smashed.  Still the phone worked.

It was difficult to read anything on the screen.  The glass kept pulling up in small chunks, threatening to slice a finger.  So I googled what to do and found you could buy and replace the screen yourself.  I bought the kit on Amazon and waited the two days.

My dad helped me carefully take the phone apart.  It was almost beautiful to see how all the tiny little pieces sat inside.  It is truly wondrous how people were able to create such a tiny masterpiece (not quite as wondrous as the efficient function of the human body or the world ecosystems, but almost!).  I was having a good time.

Until the entire phone was apart, guts splayed out on the table and we realized that I had bought the wrong screen replacement.  Oops.  All that wrestling with the tiniest screws in the world, and no work to show.  We placed the old screen back on and had almost finished putting all the pieces back together, when we ripped one of the connector wires (well, my dad ripped the wire).

I said some expletive, looked at the damage and then decided to put everything back together.  When it was all back in place, I tested the phone, even though I was positive it wouldn’t turn on.  It didn’t.  By then I didn’t even care.  I had had fun taking apart the phone and putting it back together.  I had spent some fun time with my dad learning a bit more about electronics.  And I had learned that my phone doesn’t define me.  I mean, I knew this on one level, but it is easy to become attached to this metal extension of our brain.  Google is always with me and I can get anywhere, even if the directions are a little off.

I was disappointed that my phone no longer worked.  I was disappointed that I would need to get a new one (which I did).  However, I was ok.  I have lost or damaged a phone before, had my camera stolen, had a hard drive completely wiped of my photos and so on.  All of these things were important to me, but none of this is entirely tragic.

In these situations we tend to try to “look on the bright-side”.  At least I’m ok, at least I can get a new one, at least… This is a good way to start.  The yoga sutras ask us to go a little deeper.  In looking on the bright-side, we are still experiencing attachment to something.  I was more worried about the interview I had missed than my broken cell phone.  This made me feel better, but it was just trading one attachment for another.  I was trading my attachment to an object (my cellphone) for an attachment to an event (the interview) or possibly an attachment to a way I saw myself (as a trustworthy person).

Breaking away from these attachments is not easy.  It is a journey.  We are given many opportunities to work on our attachments, many lenses which to see them through.  Yoga is not asking us to have no emotion, but recognizes that attachment to the material world causes suffering.  We do not need to suffer in this life.

This is a subject that requires much study an contemplation and this small post only scratches the surface.  I am certain I will return to this subject many times.  Feel free to share below any lessons you have had in non-attachment, small or large!

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2 thoughts on “Sutra Sunday: A lesson in Non-attachment

  1. I had a really hard time moving from the UK to Australia. We got rid of all but the essential items and I thought my heart would break. Now six months later I couldn’t even compile a list of the things I cried about. Strange, how these things work out in the end and how we misjudge the importance of items. 🙂

  2. I’ve moved around so much from the time I was 18 (because of college and post college life), that I actually have less stuff than I did when I was younger, and this is after getting married, combining stuff and getting wedding gifts. It is just so much easier to own less and not have to worry about having things around that take up space.

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