confusion about "non-attachment"
Posted by: Missbee ()
Date: March 31, 2009 04:20PM

I just read a quick excerpt from Hassan's "Guru Papers" mentioning that the primary relationship of a cult member is expected to be that of "devotee" and "leader." generally speaking, other potential relationships are often disparagingly referred to as "attachments."

i left behind an off-the-grid community which i suppose wasn't a cult in the classic sense. there quite a few self-styled gurus, i suppose: leaders of smaller groups within the off-the-grid community. abuses of power definitely present. but there wasn't any one specific leader who ran the whole works.

one of the confusing things i encountered was this sort of this disparaging notion of 'attachment.' some of the women (this was a lesbian community) discouraged what they referred to as "attachments," or intense one-one-one bonds with a partner (even though this was actually practiced by them.) the ideal was to be non-monogamous. supposedly this was a way of circumventing the type of possessiveness that occurs in many relationships.

this led to (IMO) a kind of confusing sort of language around relationships. romantic pairings were often referred to as friendships. i took this literally several times and ended up committing a few (mildly) embarrassing social faux pas. the less severe one: i became a third wheel at a picnic i assumed was between friends (because that's what they called themselves); in actuality, i was kind of being a pest at a couple's date. the (slightly less) mild mistake occurred when i nearly ended up in a very awkward situation with someone whom i assumed was my friend, but who apparently had other plans.

i realize that many people in the gay/lesbian/bi/transgender community (of which i'm a part--can't erase that orientation--nor would i want to) have open relationships. i don't see a problem with that, as long as all involved are fully consenting.

my question: is it generally a good rule of thumb to avoid groups that endorse non-monogamy, especially if it is encouraged in the name of non-attachment? also--i guess even though this wasn't a cult in the classic sense--well--there was one small organization attached to the women's land (met there) that was more classically cult-like--

oh.. anyway--even though this may not have been a cult in the classic sense, does this focus on non-attachment seem unhealthy? or is this all about my black and white thinking?

anyway. i hope it makes some basic kind of sense, and i'll stop babbling now.

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Re: confusion about "non-attachment"
Posted by: rob ()
Date: April 17, 2009 07:18PM

Non attachement in the buddhist sense means (in a nutshell), that there is no permanence in human life, everything changes all the time. The clinging to what has changed or to what is gone causes suffering. Now this has to be seen in the WHOLE of the buddist teaching : compassion, interdependence, caring about all living beings, not deliberatily harming any living being, not causing suffering to others, commitment etc...
Most all verses of the bible, the koran and most buddhist precepts can be used to justify anything.
In my experience, people (whether gay or hetero) who sleep around, are doing this because they want to sleep around without making a commitment, not because they are practicing non attachement.

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Re: confusion about "non-attachment"
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: April 17, 2009 09:38PM

Rob is correct. The concept of nonattachment has been twisted for the benefit of those doing the twisting. It takes away any sense of personal responsibility. I saw this in Landmark as well as in my own personal experience with an alternative physician who was very Landmarkian but also into an eclectic mix of philosophies and therapies, all of which were used out of context and without compassion. In a medical setting, his use of nonattachment was dangerous. I recall hearing him speak at a seminar where a woman was trying to understand his comments regarding nonattachment as it would apply to watching a loved one slow die of cancer. He basically accused her of being selfish, because it wasn't really the death of the other person that makes people sad, but how the loss affects the survivors. He went on to explain that lifes goes in other forms (we're really just different manifestations of energy) so there really is no loss. Pretty sick stuff.

It was, however, interesting to see how he disappeared when a patient had some serious interactions from somethign he was treating her with. He just stopped answering the phone and skipped appointments. He showed up again weeks later and told me he didn't know she was as "sick" as she was, uh bipolar or something. So basically he went into hiding instead of taking responsibility. That's a great way of being nonattached, isn't it?

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