Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Non-Attachment, part 3

Part 2.

Emotional subtexts in our interactions with other human beings are essential ingredients of communication.  Especially in close relationships which require trust and altruism, feelings play an important part.  Without these feelings, we wouldn't know how the relationship is faring.

The human family is founded upon a fundamental promise.  That promise is cemented with feelings.  The promise is very simple: the long-term commitment and care for another even when it is not very "useful" to oneself.

Without this promise, and a periodic reassurance that this promise still holds, our relationships will either not exist or will be stressful, uncertain, and chaotic.

Also, while the outside world is an arena of competition, the family is a place for one to find validation and encouragement.  If the home is without affection and validation, it is very easy for people to lose their balance and become unhinged.

Too much abuse, and people give up on relationships.  Too long a period without affection, and people look elsewhere for validation.

Acts of caring and affectionate gestures are meaningless without the accompanying feeling that the recipient of the gesture, and what goes on within him/her, is somehow important for oneself.  That we care about the other person.  And that this care has an emotional basis.  There can be other bases for care, but only the existence of an emotional bond can lead to the assurance that one can count on this relationship even when times are tough.

Therefore, a caring gesture without a feeling behind it does not have the same effect as a gesture which is heart-felt.  We are feeling beings, and we thrive on affection and love.  We understand someone better when we understand their emotional landscape.  Without that understanding, we wonder about others' motivations.

Emotional bonds can break too, but their breakage comes with trauma.  An emotional bond is the best guarantee most of us have that our loved ones won't take advantage of us.

In Part 2, I presented the parable of the "functional kiss".  That kiss is meaningless because it is intended to produce an effect, and is not an impulse of affection or of love.  And since the feeling in the giver is lacking, the feeling evoked in the recipient will be extremely lukewarm, if it is there at all.

I present the next parable:


Dryden was very passionate about writing.  He wanted to write two books, a dream that he had since his childhood.  And he poured his heart and soul into writing the first one.  Since it was such a labor of love, he contacted every publisher of the land to get it published.

No publisher agreed.  The book was hard to understand.  Though all publishers agreed that it was a work of genius, none was willing to take a financial risk to publish it.

Dryden sold all his possessions and published the book at his own expense.

It didn't sell.  Not one copy.

Dryden didn't cry.  He was non-attached to whether the book sold or not.  He only wanted to publish it because that was all that he could do.  The rest was not up to him.

One day, he received a telegram that someone had indeed bought a copy of his book.  He was neither happy nor sad.  A few days later, another telegram came but he wasn't eager even to open and read it.

He did not write his next book.


(to be continued)

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