Karma & Attachment

Apr 15, 2019

QUESTION Dear Ven. Robina,

I hope all is going well with you. I have this chronic issue: painful romantic delusions. I recently watched your teachings on karma, emptiness and attachment online and realized that this painful attachment is a result of karma from previous lives that have been reinforced through habitual lies that I’ve believed to be true. I consistently want a romantic relationship with someone that is obviously not interested in me.

Then I believe that I’m not worthy of being in a relationship while the world around is me has no problem finding love. This problem is so embarrassing for me to admit, but I feel I need to address it before it gets worse. It’s been taking me off the path.

Although this problem seems comical, the thoughts have been torturous. I have not been in a relationship for several years which shows that I’m resilient enough not to give in, or rather don’t have the kind of karma to be in a healthy relationship. The problem is not the object of my romantic attachment, but rather my ego. It’s been a painful realization these past few months because I thought this problem was long gone but then resurfaced. Because I wake up feeling lost, I have a hard time engaging in my morning practice of taking Buddhist Refuge (however doing water bowl offerings has been consistent).

I currently find myself extremely attached to someone I’ve know for a few years, who shows no interest in me, is very self-absorbed and aloof. By analyzing my past habits, I understand that the problem is not necessarily this person (although they serve as a trigger), and if it’s not them, it would be someone else. I’m using this situation as Dharma practice and try to wish them loving kindness rather than feel aversion. 

To get rid of this affliction, I’ve been contemplating on the unattractiveness of the object, impermanence, reciting the Vajrasattva mantra, meditating on sending loving kindness to everyone around me, and not engaging in contact with them.

Is there any other recommendation or do you have insights into my issue? Any words of wisdom are much appreciated.


VEN. ROBINA You understand what’s going on perfectly! Yes, it’s a boring old habit, that’s all. Easy to say! So painful. And for everyone, just everyone, every single human on this planet, it’s the same: the only thing that’s different is the object, the action.

So, sweetheart, the first step is to recognize it, which you do. And then to keep moving, keep practicing.

The key thing is to try to not identify oneself with it. Which of course we do: it looms hugely in our minds, dominating us, right?

So we need to practice hearing all the crazy thoughts, all the stories, and learn to live with them. That’s why I like to use that analogy of roommates. It’s good. We have THOUSANDS of roommates in our heads: all our thoughts. We need to develop the intelligence to discriminate between the crazies and the good ones. That, really, in essence, is Dharma.

Our trouble is, we can’t STAND these thoughts and we wish desperately that they’d go away. 

Instead we have to greet them, welcome them, stop having aversion for them – just like you would have to do with the crazy roommates next door, let’s say, who shout and yell and make life miserable. We have no choice. They’re old, deep habits.

So, be brave. See them, hear them, but don’t buy into them. Don’t identify them as YOU. This is so so so important.

Recognize all your good roommates: your kindness, your intelligence, your wish to be a better person, etc. etc. etc. 

Already, what you’re doing is great. Keep doing it! But the biggest one is not to expect the thoughts, the feelings, to all go away. It really does take time. That’s why we need the practice of greeting them, welcoming them, not wishing they’d go away. that’s a wrong expectation.

Do you do any deity practices? Identifying with being Tara, for example, is so beneficial.

Much love,

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