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Clinging is the process of clinging to ideas, feelings, memories, experiences, people, events, situations, relationships, possessions. It is often referred to as 'attachment'.


Attachment is what happens when we seek to perpetuate pleasure; it is the need to attain a never-ending condition of satisfaction.
Life cannot just be pleasure - it contains a variety of situations that we construe as being good or bad according to whether or not they satisfy us. Yin/yang necessitates balance.


Attraction occurs when something or somebody catches your attention and you feel inexplicably drawn closer. This is a perfectly natural, healthy way to be and is not a problem in itself.


Aversion is the opposite of attraction. Neither attraction nor aversion allow us to see something as it is; our emotions and thoughts create a bias.

You should be cautious not to treat people in the same way.
Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through.
Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.
This is a kind of death.

(Anais Nin)


Affection is when you develop feelings for the object of your attraction; you have an emotional attachment. You care.
If this is a person, that is healthy - caring about their wellbeing is a good thing.
The only negative would be if your care was contingent upon utility; if you care only because the person serves a purpose, do really care at all?
Do you not care more for the function than the individual? Is your emotional investment given in the hope of reciprocity?

Emotional bonding

If you care about an object, this can be good - looking after belongings will increase their longevity. The worth of the object lies in its utility.
Be careful not to bond emotionally, because unlike a person, an object is an inanimate thing.


Be wary of projecting your feelings. It can be common for people to ascribe characteristics to another person that do not really exist.
The other person comes to represent a mirror for your own possibilities, a vessel for your dreams and ideas. Is any of it real? Or do you just see what you want to see?

Added significance

If this sounds far-fetched, then consider lotteries... people buy a ticket in the hope of winning more money. The ticket is no longer a ticket, it is the hope of a better life.
Yet, the ticket is still a ticket, and the additional meaning has been added by you.


Everyone experiences desire. Desire is what happens when you want what attracts you. Many religions speak of desire as being a bad thing... yet if you '
fight' desire, you have not stopped desiring at all.
You have simply realised that you desire but pretend not to, and this is merely a deceit.


Getting what you desire is not necessarily harmful in itself. The suffering occurs when you seek to own your object of desire.
There is little in life that can and should be possessed - even our bodies wither and fade in time. If we can see the truth of this, possession seems illusory.
We simply experience things for a time and then life moves on; nothing can be held forever.


Attachment extends beyond people and objects. You can be attached to habits, opinions, ideas and places. Or even the use of physical tension.
An attachment is anything that you get caught up with and refuse to let-go.


Attraction and desire will happen whether you want them to or not, but possession is another matter entirely. Suffering occurs when you want to keep the object of your desire and find that you cannot.
If you realise that you possess nothing, you become detached.

Let go

There is an immense freedom in letting-go of your need to own and control. You feel more capable of living for the moment, of seeing an opportunity and acting upon it.
Detachment is not a loss of passion or feeling; it is the ability to be passionate and creative without the illusion of ownership or permanence.

Two monks were once travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

"Come on, girl," said the first monk. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

The second monk did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he said. "It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"

"I left the girl there, the first monk said. "Are you still carrying her?"

(Zen story)

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Page created 16 August 1995
Last updated 04 May 2023