Reflections on overcoming fear of abandonment

“Just because certain delusions are big within our mind does not necessarily make them complicated to understand or overcome.  We have a tendency to rationalize our failures to overcome certain delusions by over-complicating and over-dramatizing them.  In the end, the problem is not that our delusions are particular complicated or dramatic, it is just an issue of them being currently stronger than the opponents we have built up within our mind to oppose them.  We basically need to ‘bulk up’ our opponents through repeated exercise until eventually they are strong enough to overcome our delusions.  We need to be patient with this process.  It can take a long, long time for us to build up new sufficiently powerful virtuous mental habits to overcome our aeons-old deluded mental habits.  The Great Pyramids were built one stone at a time through back-breaking labor of thousands.  When it comes to building our own Great Pyramids of virtue within our mind, we work alone, and must place the bricks one at a time ourselves. The Buddhas can help give us strength, but we must do all of the work ourselves. 
 
While we are in this building process, we must accept that there will be times that our delusions will overwhelm us, arise within our mind and there will be nothing we can do to stop them.  We are simply not there yet.  We should not feel guilty or beat ourselves up when this happens, but we should also not fall into the other extreme of allowing this to happen unopposed or think that it doesn’t matter.  It does matter that delusions are running rampant in our mind, and this must eventually stop.  We lose many battles, but we use each defeat to strengthen our resolve that we must win the war.  If we never give up trying, eventual victory is assured.
 
As far as opposing the delusion itself, it primarily comes from two things.  First a very strong ignorance of grasping at an independent existence of our self.  If we realized that we are in reality an universal membrane of which each appearance is an inseparable aspect, then we experience first hand the impossibility of abandonment.  The fear of abandonment is the quite natural pain we feel arising from the false view of our separateness.  When the iron cage of our self-grasping melts away, we feel ourselves merge inseparable into an infinite ocean of everything from which we have, in reality, never been separate from.  It was only our ignorance that tricked us into thinking we were separate.  But we never have been.   We then rest comfortably in the knowledge that abandonment is an utter impossibility, a painful reflection in the distorted mirror of our self-grasping.
 
Second, it comes from plain vanilla attachment that, despite everything we know intellectually about the Dharma, still believes that our happiness depends upon ‘being with’ certain others.  We feel their presence provides us with some security against being alone.  We do not need anything from others, we need to do things for others.  When we  are becoming attached to somebody, especially as a Dharma practitioner, we tell ourselves all sorts of lies that we are not becoming attached, somehow everything is pure this time, etc.  In the beginning that may be true, but when we start to get those good feelings coming from being close to somebody, we start to grasp at them, consider them to be valuable, and mistakenly believe that they are coming from our relationship with the other person.  Since these feelings are good, and they are temporarily relieving the pain of our insecurity (coming from our grasping above), we then start to fear losing the other person, and with them our good feelings.  As soon as we assent to this mistaken view, we are doomed.  This is the pivotal turning point in the process.  If this lie arises in our mind, but we recognize it as wrong and deceptive, it will have no power over us.  But if we are not mindful and allow it to arise and we unconsciously assent to it, then it will sneak in and come to possess our mind.  The sad reality is when this happens, it is this very view that will 100% guarranteed destroy the very relationship we are so desperate to protect.  We then become high maintenance and needy, and nobody likes that.  It becomes annoying and a pain to be around us, and eventually people will leave us.  When we are in such a state, it really doesn’t matter what others say or do, nothing will convince us or prove to us that they love us, and the more we insist on such proof, the more annoying we become and the more quickly we bring about the very thing we fear – them leaving us.  
 
 
How do we convince ourselves that they love us.  Some would say it comes down to just choosing to trust them.  Certainly that is better than trying to have them prove it.  But the best solution is to give up even trying to convince ourselves by realizing it does not matter at all what they feel.  They do not need to love us, we just need to love them.  Full stop. 

One thought on “Reflections on overcoming fear of abandonment

  1. So easy to read,to consider, to accept,
    so difficult to put in practice, first you , then me.
    I loved the way you closed it:
    “They do not need to love us, we just need to love them. Full stop. ”
    Thanks KR.

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