In Heartfull meditation that I practice, and all meditation practices that I think off, they all prescribe not being attached. When we meditate, thoughts come up. They should be treated like a passing cloud, the prescription being: don't get attached. The problem: I never understood what it meant operationally. What exactly should I do??
I think I've found an answer in a parable from Buddhism.
A farmer walks to the market holding a rope, at the end of which there is a cow. He is asked by the passersby, "Why are you tied up to the cow?” Why is it controlling you?" And he says, "The cow isn't controlling me, I'm controlling the cow." "Well, if the cow is not controlling you," they respond, "why don't you let go of the rope?"
He can’t. The cow will wonder off.
Whatever you control, controls you. The cow is holding you captive as much as you are holding the cow captive. You have money, assets? Good. You control it? Yes, but notice, it controls you too. You can’t let go of it easily.
Whatever you are attached to, is attaching you back.
Think of an artist who was dreaming of becoming famous. He eventually made it and became well known appreciated, and respected. He now “owned” the audience but the audience owned him too. He could not cross a hotel lobby without being mobbed to sign autographs or to take pictures with people. He lost his privacy, lost control of his time. He got the public attached to him but the public had him attached to it too.
Let's look at my favorite prayer:
Speak without offending.
Listen without defending.
Love without depending.
And live without pretending.
Talk without offending can be interpreted through this principle of non-attachment. Why do we offend when we speak? We are trying to defend something which is dear to our heart, either an argument, or a point of view. We are attached to it, and now we must win our point of view. We can not let go off it. It controls us and we over "sell" our idea, our prejudice, trying to dominate the other party to accept our point of view and by doing so we offend, we attack.
Same applies to “listen without defending.” Why we defend? Because we are attached to some idea that needs defending.
Not to be attached means to be above any idea, be free of owning it. Like in meditation, let the clouds pass by, let that thought pass by without elaborating it, without being interested in it to the point that you own that thought, and in the process of owning it, it owns you and you become its prisoner.
Be above your thoughts. Be above your point of view. Have no prejudice, remain open-minded. That is what makes you free. Being attached is being a prisoner of what you are attached to. And when you are above any argument, any idea, looking at it, observing it, noticing it, without feeling that you own it and thus not in need to offend or defend you are free to learn, to grow and develop. .
Ichak Kalderon Adizes