sand mandala
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Attachment

Affirmation:   I love unconditionally, non-judgmentally and without attachment.   
When my husband and I went to the Grand Canyon we took a walk along the south ridge and there in the middle of the walk was a logged bench.  It must have weighed a couple of tons.  It was a lovely spot to look out over the Canyon.  When we rose, we noticed that the bench had been chained down.  What we couldn’t figure out is why.  It seemed virtually impossible for someone to move the bench no less pick it up and take it away.  I can only guess they had their reasons.  Maybe they needed to give someone a job and they made that one up.  Maybe they caught a few people trying to move the bench and decided not to take any chances.  Maybe you can think up a couple of reasons why they felt they needed to chain down a bench of that size and weight. 
Over 2,000 years ago Patanjali, the grandfather of Yoga, recorded Yoga sutras (threads of wisdom) that can help us cope with limitations of the human condition.  In writings that reflected the knowledge of all the yogis before him, Patanjali claimed that these practices would help conquer the five human afflictions that cause suffering (kleshas): ignorance, ego-ism, aversion, possessiveness and attachment.
I have read that in India loggers use elephants to help them do their work.  They begin training the elephants from the time they are very young.  One of the training tools is a steak and a chain.  They chain a baby elephant to a stake so it will stay put.  When the elephant is an adult, they use the same procedure.  The adult elephant still stays where it is put because it believes it cannot free itself. 
In both cases the chains are superfluous.  They serve no purpose whatsoever.  They are simply used to give the illusion that the item needs to be attached to something.  It is the season of Advent as I write this.  We have been inundated with advertisements about all the stuff we should want, want for ourselves and want for others.  And, along with all the material possessions we are seduced by there is also the expectations we have about what the holidays will be like, who we will be with, what events will take place, how much attention we will receive or are expected to give.  We are attached to so many things, material and emotional. These can be the chains we have created that keep us connected to things that we don’t really need to be connected to; chains that we’ve created that are useless, superfluous.   Can you see why Patanjali thought attachment was a human affliction?
One of my affirmations is:  I love unconditionally, non-judgmentally and without attachment.   It means I must leave my ego and my expectations aside.  Of course being human means we do become attached to people and things but not feeling like you own them and they are fully yours takes effort.

Have you ever had the pleasure of watching the Tibetan monks create a sand mandala?  When they were here in Raleigh, N.C. I went to watch them create it.  They had these little tiny tubes of colored sand and they placed the sand grain by grain where they wanted it in order to make the picture.  I’d say it was about six feet square.  It took about a week.  I also attended the final ceremony.  They scooped up all the sand and walked it to the lake and poured it in.  They completely let it go; they released it.

I’m sure it’s the same as the artists who do the sand sculptures or the ones who do the chalk drawings.  I find it fascinating that someone can spend so much time creating something so remarkable and beautiful and yet know that it will not last, it will wash away.  All mothers and fathers create this precious one of a kind piece of art, our children.  Perhaps, that’s the final lesson.  All the things of this earth, of this world, of our world will not last; they will one day be gone.  If we can find a way to embrace that concept, life will be less painful, more serene. 
I have a vision that not only has the elephant finally found its freedom but so has that bench.  Just like in the cartoons, it looks down, sees that silly chain and snaps it off as it goes to find its perfect location; as it goes to find its freedom and its bliss.  What do your chains look like?  What attachments are causing you angst or sadness?  How long have they been holding you there?  What would it take for you to break the chain or to at least pull it out so you can run free?