Love and attachment generally stand at polarities from one another but they get embedded together in our human love. It is very rare to find a person’s love free of attachment. There is invariably a hidden agenda to our love. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo frequently distinguished between Divine Love and this pallid human substitute. So this workshop was organised to make us more conscious of our love. When consciousness is there, we can then seek to purify and refine it. That was the intention behind this workshop. To do that, we need to shed our attachments and attune ourselves to a truer vibration of Love.
35 people registered for this event. There were six sessions and six facilitators at this workshop. Each speaker evoked his or her particular style and approach. Dr. Alok Pandey, in the first session, The Great Secret: the Mystery of Divine Love, stated that in man’s quest for knowledge and power, love tends to get overridden and suppressed. In striving for intellectuality, he becomes insensitive to the pain in himself and others. When he suppresses his emotions, selfishness intrudes and the mind becomes rationalised. Without the energy of love, the world gets hardened and this makes people cruel in subtle ways.
How to reach the source of Love? In mankind there are gradations: at the bottom there is there is only love of the self; next there is love but expectation of immediate return; after that, one loves but from time to time seeks acknowledgment; at the summit, one loves but doesn’t need anything else. One loves for the sake of loving. Love, beauty, harmony and Ananda all go together. Love seeks the intensity and power to unite. Its energy seeks union at every level: at the physical level, at the sensory level and at the deepest psychic level. When we are open to the infinite source, we don’t need any physical source. When we become attached, we are attaching ourselves to a finite object. If we turn ourselves to the infinite source, all our expectations will become divine.
The second session conducted by Dr. Yogesh Mohan, Inner Freedom & Love, took the form of an interactive discussion, whereby the facilitator invited the participants to share their views on the subject and ask questions. In the journey of our life, he said, we experience love in different forms and stages: some of these are beautiful and others not so. Attachment is normal and can’t be wished away. The conflict between love and attachment largely emanates from our fear of ‘losing’. The idea of detachment arises out of our want to avoid the pain caused due to loss.
When we love, we invite the other person’s consciousness to become connected with our own. We accept the other as a part of our being. This results in an intuitive understanding of the other person’s experiences and feelings. Such relationships, where one is connected with the other through a deep bond of joy, are a blessing. These need to be nurtured and divinised. We need not run away from relationships or forcefully detach ourselves. There is a need to transform our loving relationships so that they become instruments for the expansion of our consciousness.
The purpose of human life is the evolution of consciousness. Therefore, we must also permit in our relationships enough space and freedom for love to grow for ourselves and others to mature and evolve. For this, we need to purify our relationships by removing the vibrations of the lower vital which are marred by possessiveness, jealousy, selfishness, control and other such lower elements.
The experience of expansion and elation that we feel when we are in a relationship of love is a result of our consciousness expanding to embrace the consciousness of the other as a part of our own self. In such a relationship, we are giving and sharing all that is good in us – love, care, wishes, prayers, grace… This experience of pure love elevates our being and refines our consciousness.
The next session by Dr. Monica Gulati looked closely at attachment also. She opened with a question, ‘If attachment is the cause of suffering (the Buddha), what is the need for its existence?’ Various answers came back: the need to experience the extreme opposite of love… but love is freedom, is it truly one side to a duality? Another said that there is a thin line between love and attachment. It is the first step of love. Another commented on the necessity of ego in our initial evolution. The ego, once a helper, becomes a bar.
The truth is, Dr. Monica said, attachment plays an important part in our evolution. Attachment-parenting for instance has an important role in overall parenting: skin-to-skin, physical attachment.
Later on in life, we need attachment to ‘complete ourselves’ in our relationships. Then it becomes a major barrier to our true love and a significant cause of our suffering. The truth is, we don’t feel complete. There is a part in us that is the ‘king’ (the psychic being) and another, which is a beggar, never satisfied and always craving more. When we are in a relationship, we look to the other person to make us ‘feel good’. Once one becomes the centre of attention, one feels a sense of worth. Life is fleeting though, and this worth soon disappears. It cannot rely on anything external to make one’s life complete. With parenting too, attachment stops the child growing because the parent is unwilling to let the child go and explore freely. Then it becomes abusive.
Dr. Monica said that we should endeavour to make our suffering active suffering, as a passageway to our growth. The suffering we feel makes us realise the True Light that is within us.
The fourth session by James Anderson, Refining Love & Disentangling Attachment was both practical and profoundly experiential. James said that there is no synonym for Love. Nothing can adequately define it. When received by the heart it dilutes into an emotion. It is a totally independent plane of consciousness. It is so sublime and rarefied that it constantly eludes humanity’s grasp. Humanity has to open to the Truth first. The Truth-Consciousness has to be brought down by humanity and into each individual. To establish Truth inside we have to, among other things, untangle our attachments. They are totally contrary to the Truth as they imply limitation and constriction. We have to learn to orient ourselves inside as attachment lies outside. From that poise, we work upon them.
A working exercise was shared. Everyone was asked to connect inside and then to erect a cinema-screen in front of their inner eye. All the interactions that we have had in the past or may have in the future with one central person in our life can be replayed on the screen. One observed as a spectator but was also the director and chief actor in the film. Everyone was asked to watch their reactions attentively. We were asked to watch how these distortions of attachment were affecting our being. Was one able to process them through the presence gathered inside or was one being pulled downwards? We were asked to try to keep a poise of detachment at all times so that these patterns could be processed. We were asked to use our consciousness to put a light on any negative patterns. We were asked to apply our will to conduct our everyday life in future from this poise. We were asked to gradually conclude the film.
Then we were asked to offer everything we have experienced and everything unprocessed to the Divine. We offer all that we are to the Mother.
Finally we were invited to open our being, from top to bottom, to the Force of Love and Truth. Observe it descending through our being, saturating everything with its unique Presence. We were asked to open every cell in our body to this Force. Like the petal of a flower opening to everything pouring down from the Divine. We were asked to let the ego melt under this Force. We were asked to feel our selves becoming a part of this Divine Love.
Keeping the poise at all time is central to all work. Any wrong movement, like attachment, should be ‘caught’ by our consciousness and offered to the Light.
The next session on, The Rungs of Love was facilitated by Dr. Soumitra Basu. As usual, he shared his clinical incidents to describe his experiences. As a practising physician, he said that he had witnessed the most perverse and macabre behaviour in people masquerading as love. Medicines can cure anger and hatred but not love or fantasy.
He mentioned that of the seven chakras given to the human being, it is the heart chakra which purifies our love. It is this chakra which frees love from attachments and ego and connects us to Universal Love. But the Mother and Sri Aurobindo have put forward an radically new dimension to Love in the 4th-dimensional principle of the Psychic Being, which is behind the heart chakra and and a projection of the JIvatman. This transcends everything that the heart chakra can offer. The Mother connects us directly to the Psychic Being. The connection goes far beyond everything.
Without establishing harmony in our being, we cannot love. We have to learn how to love. Love has its rungs. We have to graduate through them. At first, one loves only when one is loved. Next, one loves spontaneously but wants a return. The next rung one loves even when one is not loved, but still wants one’s love to be accepted. Finally there is no need, one loves simply for the joy of loving.
It is said that only the Divine knows what love is and the Divine keeps hunting us and testing us until we surrender to His Love. Whatever our conflicts, we are bound by our love for the Mother.
The final session, Opening to Divine Love, was conducted by Dr. Debabrata Sahani. Here he stated that the search for Divine Love only begins when one comes face to face with the inadequacy of human love. The knowing can only come from experience. After the frustration and anguish, one opens sincerely to the Divine.
If one has experienced stable, fulfilling and helpful human love, one can aspire for Divine Love. In spite of these positive experiences, they can never fill the void within. Only the Divine can do that. The grade 1 Love does not require any reciprocity. Experientially, love is the joy of giving. The endeavour is to move to this grade.
In human love, we suffer because our mind tells us that we are giving more and not receiving enough. Despite this perceived notion of imbalance between giving and receiving, we still stick to the relationship. This is because of attachment. To keep human love stable, we have to use reasoning. We suffer in relationships where the balance between giving and taking is disturbed. We give but receive less than what we expect. The only solution for this is to lower our expectations by reducing what we give to those who don’t reciprocate. Reducing giving will help reduce your expectation. This is a short-term, pragmatic solution.
The most important activity which connects us with Love is serving. The door to Divine Love is service. The attitude of gratitude is important: in our day-to-day life interactions with others,the feeling of gratitude opens us to the Divine.
The experience of Divine Love is unmistakeable. The signs are clear: self-forgetfulness; joy of giving; quietness and silence; empathy and kind and sweet words expressed in a selfless manner is a sign that the Divine Love is touching us.
“Got something or the other from all the sessions. Lot of positive takeaways from each session.”
“I enjoyed how the topic was structured around the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.”
“Peripherally. It definitely helped me understand that human love of necessity comes with attachments and I learned techniques to overcome attachments. Very, very helpful!”
“Each of the speakers brought a unique perspective on the topic of Love and Attachment, and put together, they formed a harmonious whole. There was such an undercurrent of joy and love in the sessions! Love to me is a part of a beautiful ripple that flows out as joy and beauty and peace and gratitude and harmony and all of these blend together to form the shades of a sunset in the evening sky over the ocean.. (I hope this makes sense, it is hard to express in words!)”
“The ones that resonated most with me were James' experiential session, which was very profound, Dr. Basu's words of wisdom and his reading of the four stages of love by as described by The Mother and the quote "I have a sweet little Mother who lives in my heart, we are so happy together we shall never part". I hope and aspire that I can live up to this… Also, Dr. Debu's practical guidance and his ‘attitude of gratitude’. Dr. Yogesh's thoughts on how love is wideness and joy. And Dr. Alok's talk made me think of ‘Love is what makes the world go round!’. And finally Dr. Monica's perspective on whether or not attachment is a bad thing or not.”
“Never have I felt so cared for in a workshop or class. Personal video and notes? Beyond belief.
For the participants, you demonstrated Divine Love in your actions.
Amazing seva, thank you.”