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Attachment to Love — Darkness to Light

Dr. Monica Gulati


As human beings, our journey is from attachment to non-attachment, or from suffering to bliss. We all think about and have imaginations about unconditional pure love. But as human beings it is mostly not our reality. Our love is mixed with a lot of physical/emotional wants, insecurities, dependencies, with mental opinions and rigidities. Owing to this mixture present in us, we suffer and struggle; we get entangled, and have conflicts and dramas in our relationships. Is it possible for us to use attachment/suffering and entanglement as raw material on this path of sadhana? Is it possible to use attachment as raw material to move towards love? This article explores this possibility in the context of day-to-day human life.

The base camp of attachment

As human adults, at the ordinary level of consciousness, we start our journey towards pure Love from the base-camp of attachment. What we call ‘falling in love’ is mostly/usually coming out of a sense of lack — ‘you fill my void, I will fill yours’. In the beginning, in these relationships, things are new and exciting and have fervour, a fresh air around them. But very soon reality dawns and we see that depending on another person for emotional security and fulfilment is an abuse, a torture, an entanglement, and it just complicates life. We can clearly see that no matter how close a person may be, he/she cannot fulfil all our desires, or we cannot make the other person a source for our peace, contentment and happiness. It is just not possible. The more demanding or expecting we become in a relationship, full of a vital/emotional vigour, full of mental rigidities and opinions, the more abuse, entanglement comes into that relationship.

What to do?

This is our journey as human beings: to start from attachment, to see what torture, misery and suffering it brings, to see that all our attachments are our weaknesses and soft spots, and to begin to use it as raw material for inner growth, to come back to an inner poise and quietude of the being, and slowly to sort out the mixture of emotions, mental opinions from our relationships and move towards love, love as a way of being (1).

The false/ illusory promise of attachment

The Buddha said that attachment is the root-cause of suffering. It seems that it is very valid when we look at our experiences as human adults.

At all the places that I am attached, the promise that attachment implies is: if I get that particular thing, that particular life-situation, that particular person in my life — there would be something that will get added onto me, I will be peaceful, happy and content. And on the contrary, if I lose someone special, or something special, then something will get subtracted from me, and I will lose harmony, peace, joy and content.

In essence this is not true. We slowly realise through our life-experiences that nothing can get added onto me and nothing can be reduced from me. We are all whole and divine in essence. Yet, having said that, to attain a progressive refinement, purity and perfection, our outer consciousness needs to be worked upon in order to bring out the complete light of our divine essence. So, in this sense, it is a never-ending journey towards perfection of this instrument— the human being. And yet, at the same time, we are whole, full and complete.

It is amazing to see that I have to embrace both aspects of myself: the inner being, full and whole, full of divine light and understanding and the outer being (thoughts, emotions, feelings, physical being, behaviour, tendencies), crude and full of ignorance. Only when I embrace both fully, can I begin to master my movements and bring integral harmony gradually into the outer consciousness.

Using attachment as raw material for progress

Is it possible for me to recognise all the places in my life where I am attached, spots which bring in misery, spots where I feel weak in my knees, spots which bring in elation, spots which bring in despair and which also have the capacity to throw me up in the air?

For these are the places I need to use as raw material to work upon. I would see, at the same time, that there are many people, many things and situations with respect to which I am relatively unattached. They don’t bother me much, whether given or taken away for I am not seeking from them to make me whole and complete. I feel whole and complete with or without them. And yet, there are those people or things or situations in my life (my soft spots, my weak spots), with respect to which I have desires, I have attachments, I have my own mental rigid opinions that this should go this way only, like a sort of stubbornness. All this is a manifestation of the desire-soul/ego (2). This is not the manifestation of my true essence, and hence these are my areas of work in this life.

Saint Kabir says, “Neither the illusion/Maya dies, neither the desiring mind dies, all that dies or withers away is the body, the matter. Your thirsts, your hopes, your desires, your incompletions did not die.” (Maya mui naa Mann muaa, mar mar gaye shareer, asha-trishna naa mari, keh gaye das Kabir) (3).

It becomes clear to us then that our task as a human being on the path of life as yoga is not to nurture and sustain our sense of incompletion, nor to nurture our insecurities, our hopes and fears, our emotional and mental insufficiencies and rigidities; but the task is to overcome them all, to know thyself beyond all the illusory insufficiencies (4). And, in knowing yourself above and beyond all those insufficiencies, they can all be further worked upon, refined, made purer; and hence we begin the walk towards progress and perfection of mind, vital and physical as instruments of the Divine/of Truth and not falsehood/ego.

To stop fuelling the beggar tendency in me

In those places where I feel weak in my life, attached in my life, there is an illusory beggar in operation. ‘Beggar’ is a term used here for the sense of lack or insufficiency, sense of unworth, sense of incompletion. Whenever I am working or relating in my life from this sense of lack, I am fueling the falsehood, the beggar tendency in me. Whenever I am listening to the dictates of the beggar, who is always asking, always demanding, always incomplete with a bottomless void, I am fueling the falsehood, the ego, the beggar.

Whenever I see the beggar rising up in the being, and become aware of it acting out, can I be vigilant? Can I not feed this illusion, the illusion of lack? Can I stop acting out the beggar tendency in my relationships, in my workplace, in my life? Why must I stop feeding the beggar in me? The one who keeps on desiring and desiring and desiring? Because I see clearly that a desire fulfilled doesn’t satisfy the beggar, another desire comes, and yet another. The stomach of the beggar forever remains empty, unfulfilled; as if its hunger is a mirage that can never really be realised.

So, the best way to move on then is to notice and then ignore the demands of the beggar tendency; and make discernment/viveka, the light of understanding as the King of my being. Out of my understanding and life-experiences, I see that no matter how many times I have tried to fill the tummy of the hungry beggar in me, it has never really put him to rest, it always remains unfulfilled and restless. So, can I just not drain my energies further in order to be a slave to the dictates of the beggar? Can I stop being a servant to the beggar, the ego, the falsehood of incompletion?

When I stop fuelling the beggar, gradually, I can be a servant to my Truth. I will not be a slave to the dictates of the sense of incompletion, my tendencies, my mental opinions, my attachments and insecurities. When I step back from all of that, I can gradually take charge of my whole being, as if the king is back in the kingdom and now can master the movements of the kingdom and create a new life for myself. Now, the king is back, and taking the throne up himself, gradually he can work with all the imperfections of the being and raise them towards purity and beauty.


1. Sri Aurobindo. The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volume 31. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2014, pp. 283-84.

2. The Mother. The Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 8. 2nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003, p. 303.

3. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 14th May 2021].

4. Sri Aurobindo. CWSA, Volume 23; 1999, p. 352-53.

Dr. Monica Gulati, a learner and explorer, is based in Gurugram, India. She is co-founder of and shares her experiences on going through cancer with faith at

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The Buddha


Saint Kabir


Servant to the beggar