Cravings and Attachments Come From Fear

“If we have fear, we can’t be completely happy. If we’re still running after the object of our desire, then we still have fear. Fear goes together with craving. We want to be safe and happy, so we begin to crave a particular person or object or idea (such as wealth or fame) that we think will guarantee our well-being. We can never fully satisfy our craving, so we keep running and we stay scared. If you stop running after the object of your craving—whether it’s a person, a thing, or an idea—your fear will dissipate. Having no fear, you can be peaceful. With peace in your body and mind, you aren’t beset by worries, and in fact you have fewer accidents. … Fear spoils our lives and makes us miserable. We cling to objects and people, like a drowning person clings to any object that floats by. By practicing nonattachment and sharing this wisdom with others, we give the gift of nonfear. Everything is impermanent. This moment passes. The object of our craving walks away, but we can know happiness is always possible.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh


We generally don’t relate cravings to fear, with a few exception. A craving for peace relates to a fear of war. Craving health relates to a fear of illness and death. But we don’t think of most cravings as being about fear.

But any craving can be connected to a fear, either directly or indirectly. A craving for chocolate may have developed out of a craving for food which comes from a fear of starvation. A craving for expensive clothing may come from a fear of poverty. A constant desire for entertainments like concerts and movies may be hiding a fear of facing reality.

Legitimate Cravings

There are cravings that are good. When your body craves water, for example. Or when you realize that materialism is empty and start to crave something more. Craving something your body actually needs isn’t wrong. Craving those things we don’t need, and which often harm us, is wrong. We all have cravings though. Continue reading “Cravings and Attachments Come From Fear”

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Possessive Ownership is Attachment to Things

“It is not love but lust—the possessive case, the very food of selfhood—which poisons the relation between the self and the external world and ‘immediately fatigues’ the soul. Divide the world into ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ and unreal standards are set up, claims and cravings begin to fret the mind. We are the slaves of our own property. We drag with us not a treasure but a chain. ‘Behold,’ says the “Theologia Germanica,’ ‘on this sort must we cast all things from us and refrain from claiming anything for our own. When we do this, we shall have the best, fullest, clearest, and noblest knowledge that a man can have, and also the noblest and purest love and desire’”. ~Evelyn Underhill

Detachment from Possessions

Some people think that when spiritual books, Gurus, and prophets advise us to get rid of all attachments to the physical world and anything in it, that we must lose all love for our relatives, friends, and things we enjoy. Underhill attempts to clarify this.

She says it is only the possessive types of attachments that we need to release. We can love the scent of the rose, as long as we don’t claim the rose as our personal property. Loving our spouse is fine, as long as we don’t think of them as belonging to us. Within reason, we can even love some of the luxuries of life. An occasional glass of fine wine is not a problem. Claiming ownership of the vineyard is. Living in a nice house is good, as long as we don’t think of it as our property.


We should think of ourselves as transients in the physical world. In a sense, that’s what we are. We are here temporarily. Like a traveler who never settles in one place ,we can’t speak of things in the possessive sense.

The transients love the hotel they stay in. They never think of it as their property. That is how we must think of our homes, apartments, farms, and other places. Lovely to visit, but we don’t own them. Even if man’s law says we do, in reality we don’t. We have to think that way to become detached.

We see movie stars appearing at an event wearing a million dollars worth of jewelry. In most cases, it has been loaned to them by a store or designer. They may love the design, but they don’t think of it as their. They have no possessive attachments to it. They can happily hand it back to the designer after the event, and borrow something different for the next one. That is how we must think of all objects we have. Our jewelry, no matter how valuable, or how much we love it, can’t be though of in a possessive way. We are here temporarily, the jewelry is here temporarily. Attachments to the temporary that prevent the growth of your permanent self are destructive. Continue reading “Possessive Ownership is Attachment to Things”

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Spiritual Sabbath and Spiritual Circumcision

“In the Law and the prophets reference is made to the Sabbath, Sabbaths, and Sabbaths of Sabbaths; and to circumcision and circumcision of circumcision. …

“The Sabbath signifies the dispassion of the dieform soul that through practice of the virtues has utterly cast off the marks of sin.

“Sabbaths signify the freedom of the dieform soul that through the spiritual contemplation of created nature has quelled even the natural activity of sense-perception.

“Sabbaths of Sabbaths signify the spiritual calm of the dieform soul that has withdrawn the intellect even from contemplation f all the divine principles in created beings, that through an ecstasy of love has clothed it entirely in God alone, and that through mystical theology has brought it altogether to rest in God.

“Circumcision signifies the quelling of the soul’s impassioned predilection for things subject to generation.

“Circumcision of circumcision signifies the complete discarding and stripping away also of even the soul’s natural feelings for things subject to generation.” ~The Philokalia

Sabbath and Circumcision

Most people think “Sabbath” means the day of the week devoted to God or attending religious services. So Jews think it is Saturday, while Christians think it is Sunday. It is more accurate to say it means the last day of the week. It is the day of rest after God labored for six days to create the world. More accurately, however, it is derived from the Hebrew verb sabat meaning to stop, cease or keep. This is quite different from the definition found in the Philokalia.

The use of the word circumcision is also unconventional. It does not, according to the quote, involve physical mutilation of sex organs at all! There is evidence in the Bible itself that circumcision doesn’t always refer to physical mutilation. In it, there are references to a “circumcision of the heart,” which is obviously not a physical thing at all.

It is simple logic that if you want to make the physical body stronger or healthier, you do things on the physical level(mostly). If you want to become more spiritual, however, you must do things on the spiritual level. That included following the Sabbath and circumcision.

Spiritual Sabbath

Another way to word what the Philokalia is saying is that the Sabbath is all about the spiritual journey of the soul. The Sabbath could be considered to be that initial awakening of the soul. The Sabbaths would be the continued growth of that awakened soul until it achieves Gnosis. The Sabbaths of Sabbaths would be when the soul reached the highest level of consciousness possible and joins in permanent oneness with God. Few, if any,achieve that during their physical life on Earth, but the quest continues on the spiritual side.

Sabbath,therefore, would not be something limited to a specific day of the week. The quest for spiritual awakening and development should be done daily. It doesn’t have to be for hours. If you know what you’re doing, a few minutes each day is enough.

Spiritual Circumcision

As a man myself, I find the gross misunderstanding of the ancients rule of circumcision resulting in the mutilation of millions of male babies to be a very sad affair. We laugh at a primitive tribe that turns an airplane into a god after seeing one fly over for the first time. We are supposed to be civilized and educated people, yet we allow this barbaric practice to continue. In some parts of Africa, females are also mutilated. That is probably even worse, but all forms of mutilation of our babies is wrong.

As the Philokalia correctly notes, real circumcision, spiritual circumcision is not about physical mutilation. Spiritual circumcision is similar to what the Hindu’s call detachment. It is not cutting skin from male children, but cutting attachments to things in the physical world.

We need to be circumcised of out attachments to places. Every time there is a natural disaster approaching, there are always a few people who refuse to evacuate. They usually say it because they must protect their property from vandals, or they have lived there forever and they are not abandoning it now. It is kind of a “the captain must go down with the ship” mentality. But your real ship is your soul, not your house, not your car, not your shares of stock.

Releasing ourselves of such attachments is not easy. We must do it a little at a time. But we must remember when doing so that attachments are like anchors that hold us down when we try to rise to higher spiritual levels of being and consciousness. The more anchors we have, the harder it is to soar. So work diligently on removing the anchors. Live the spiritual sabbath and be spiritually circumcised of all attachments.