What is a Good Life? #15
Letting Go of Attachments with Benjamin Western
On the 15th episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast I am joined by Benjamin Western, who is the Founder at The Shining Light Project, a trustee at Hope & Aid Direct, and Head of Sustainability at LRQA.
This episode is different from the others, as this is more a conversation than an interview, and we are focussing on the teachings of Anthony De Mello.
Anthony De Mello was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. A spiritual teacher and author of several spiritual books, two of which, Awareness and The Way to Love, have had a huge impact on both mine and Benjamin’s lives.
In this episode we explore and reflect on the core teachings of De Mello, essentially that our attachments in life are making us suffer. We explore where we as humans are most attached, to possessions, caring what people think of us, achievement, habits, our beliefs, and our proclivity to chase thrills and excitement rather than what brings us real happiness.
I loved discussing these themes with Benjamin, who is a wise and thoughtful soul, and it will give you plenty to contemplate in terms of your present attachments in life.
The weekly clip from the podcast (3 mins), my weekly reflection (2 mins), the full podcast (65 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
2. My weekly reflection
“Finally comes the conviction that you will not be happy without this person or thing, for you have equated the pleasure it brings you with happiness. You now have a full blown attachment; and with it comes an inevitable exclusion of other things, an insensitivity to anything that isn’t part of your attachment….
The symphony of life moves on but you keep looking back, clinging to a few bars of the melody, blocking your ears to the rest of the music, thereby producing disharmony and conflict between what life is offering you and what you are clinging to”
Anthony De Mello, The Way to Love
This book has had the biggest impact on me of any book I’ve read before or since. It is a relatively short book, but each short chapter packs a punch that really makes me question how we are living our lives, what we are chasing, and why.
De Mello suggests you can have your attachments, or you can have your happiness - the choice is yours, take it or leave it. While we remain attached to so many things we never attain happiness, we simply enjoy thrills and pleasures that give us respite from the perpetual suffering the attachments cause.
To be clear dropping attachments doesn’t mean renouncing everything, you can enjoy something without being attached to it.
When we think of attachments, we may think of something really obvious like a drug addiction, but De Mello suggests that we have many socially acceptable attachments that are making us suffer (as Benjamin points out in the video above) and that the programming and beliefs we live by don’t work - consider how many truly contented people you know within your own circles?
The antidote is continued awareness and paying attention to what is, not wanting yourself and others to change, but first, to see everything as it is, and then to observe it naturally change from that space of awareness, love, and acceptance. It is not about forcing change, it is about letting go of attachments.
3. Full Episode - Letting Go of Attachments with Benjamin Western - What is a Good Life? Ep. #15
4. This week’s Questions
What attachments of yours do you believe cause you the most suffering presently?
If you stopped trying to force yourself to change, do you trust how you might naturally evolve?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around what life, myself, and existence are all about.
I create corporate programs for companies to foster greater psychological safety, trust and purpose (click here for reference). While I also work with high-performing, individual clients who have hit their material goals and are trying to understand what comes after performance.