Becoming our own person

Jan 25, 2024

One of our deepest attachments is this craving to be approved of; everybody has it. It’s the subtlest attachment of all. I mean, we talk about attachment to cakes, and attachment to sex, and attachment to music or whatever, but the most primordial attachment that so utterly drives us, that’s so hard to see because it’s there all the time, is what they call in Buddhist psychology, “attachment to reputation.”

And all it is is the emotional hunger to be seen and heard and approved of by other people. 

In general, attachment is a symptom of being half a person. You feel empty, bereft, lonely. Something’s always missing; that’s its nature. So you feel hungry – emotionally hungry for something out there, and the obvious level of this is the objects of the senses, such that when you get them, you’ll feel full. 

But the deepest way it manifests in all of us, to one degree or another, is this craving to be seen and heard, to be validated. Putting it simply: we crave to be liked, crave to be seen as a good girl.

What this tells us is that we have very little self-confidence. If you already saw and heard yourself, if you were fulfilled in yourself, confident, you would not have a craving to be approved of by others.

And even when you’re in a relationship, you can feel empty, like you’re no one, especially if you have a bitter relationship, and the husband doesn’t even look at you, doesn’t talk to you. You’re like invisible.

We have this yearning to be heard, and as soon as one kind person asks a question, our heart pours out. It’s really poignant. 

We’ve got to ask ourselves the question, and this sounds so shocking: I wonder why I need to be liked? 

We’ll say, “What a stupid question. It’s normal to be liked.” But we’ve got to ask it: why do we have the yearning to be liked? 

What it tells us is that who I am, what I am, is not good enough until someone else approves of me. It’s quite shocking, actually! All the more, because it’s so totally normal. The entire world is this way.

Look at us. We all think we’re less. We all think we’re a failure to one degree or another. We don’t know how to listen to our own thoughts; we don’t know what we think; we don’t know what we want; we don’t know what’s valid. We only know that if someone smiles at me, what I just said must have been okay. 

Look at the world! Look at the loneliness! Loneliness is the symptom of a person who doesn’t know themselves, who isn’t happy with themselves. We feel that we have no one to share our thoughts and feelings with. Well, what is it about my thoughts and feelings that aren’t valid until someone else hears them?

Wow!

In the West, we talk about learning to love ourselves. We need to become our own person – my mother would say that. This is the consequence of giving up attachment. 

Then we can move forward, grow as human beings, and develop our amazing potential for clarity and goodness.

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