I'm not big on the whole detachment thing. Strikes me as horribly unnatural. Why should we give up attachments, desires, cravings, longings?
Than again, why shouldn't we?
If someone feels like being attached to someone or something, great. Go for it, dude or dudette. If someone feels like detaching from someone or something, also great. Let loose, let go.
There's no problem in wanting and not-wanting, clinging and releasing. Each of us does this countless times a day.
I just had a desire for a sip of coffee. I attached my fingers to the handle of my cup. I lifted the cup to my lips. Then set it down, loosened my grip, and went back to typing on my laptop.
Yet in many spiritual circles there's an attitude of attachment bad, detachment good.
Of course, people who think that way are attached to that notion. So I guess what they really mean is, some attachments are bad, and some attachments are good.
Can't argue with that. It all depends. Not on some Holy Cosmic Truth. On common sense and what works for us.
I hold onto a t-shirt until I feel like banishing it to the rag drawer, adding it to our Goodwill donation box, or giving it to a friend who often adopts t-shirts that I've grown tired of. But when I like a t-shirt, I'm bothered if something happens to it -- stain, rip, whatever.
Now, I realize that Buddhism and other attachment-phobic ways of looking at the world view clinging as the big problem.
There is nothing wrong with desires and relationships as long as one does not cling. I can truly enjoy a movie or a restaurant as long as I do not cling to them. I can have a meaningful and happy relationship with my wife as long as I work with her to mediate the tendency to either pursue (i.e. criticizing, complaining, endless questioning, etc.) or withdraw (getting defensive, checking out, shutting down, avoiding, etc.) during conflict. Both pursuing and withdrawing are clinging. Both are suffering.
Huh? Pursuing and withdrawing are suffering? When I see a new Crazy Shirts t-shirt design and pursue it with my VISA card, then eventually withdraw it from my t-shirt collection, where is the suffering in this?
What I feel is satisfaction. I get something enjoyable; then I let it go and pursue something else.
Methinks Buddhism and like-minded philosophies are too extreme, too ascetic, too (dare I say it?) attached to a view of human nature that is decidedly unnatural. Also, unscientific.
Most of what goes on in my brain, as in yours, is unconscious. We aren't nearly as much in control of seemingly conscious decisions as we think we are.
Thus while it is possible to engage in disciplines like meditation that seemingly have some effect on our ability to be detached from objects of desire/clinging, I doubt that much is happening other than, so to speak, exchanging one metaphorical t-shirt for another.
Yay, me! Ooh, I'm so enlightened!
Before I was attached to women, wine, and websurfing; now I'm attached to meditation, mysticism, and masters (Zen or otherwise). I'm still clinging, just to different stuff. The only way to be genuinely detached from desires is to be dead.
From my unlofty 65 year-old viewpoint, I can look down, or up, or sideways upon my life and observe...
Much of the time I've taken myself way too seriously. I've agonized over whether this-or-that was right or wrong, good or bad, desirable or undesirable. I've examined my shortcomings and tallcomings as if (1) I could identify which was which, and (2) I actually could do something about them.
When I've felt happiest and most productive, I wasn't trying to be anything other that what I was: simply me, doing whatever seemed worth doing at the moment. Detachment and attachment? Irrelevant.