people are driven by attachment.
we know this at the theoretical level, but on the theoretical level it's only mildly cool. of course people have things they like and don't like, and sure they cling to the things they like—cravings—and repulse at the things they don't like—aversions.
but i started to experience this at the experiential level at the meditation retreat, that might just be the equivalent of taking the red pill in the Matrix.
the teacher instructed us to, when observing a bodily sensation like pain or an itch, just observe. whatever you do, don't react. remain equanimous.
slowly you develop your level of equanimity. and you bring that equanimity to other things and you notice that you're equanimous when you wouldn't normally be. and you go aha! that was an attachment.
(tbh at a macro level you also notice your attachments at the retreat because you're basically deprived of most objects of attachment and feel the fallout)
what were the attachments i felt on an experiential level?
one thing i didn't know how much i was attached to was hunger. as i talked about in my last post, once i developed equanimity i could disconnect from the hunger. in normal life i get hangry and so i work hard not to be hungry. at the retreat, i started sneaking out peanut butter sandwiches so i wouldn't get hungry from our lack of dinner. no one else i talked to had such a problem with it. truly i didn't know you don't always have to react to your hunger.
a vivid memory: when i went to coachella with my friends in 2018, i chugged soylent in secret in the bathroom so i wouldn't get hungry.
all attachments, including hunger, are basically mental itches. if i react to them, i'm clinging.
on a deeper note i didn't realize how much i cling to people. i had a roommate at the meditation retreat. it was a silent retreat but we got to talk on the last day. we had a fantastic conversation and he was very cool. when we finished talking so we could go to bed, i felt a slightly sadness. i wanted to continue the conversation. i didn't want to go to bed. my mind started clinging to our pleasant conversation, our spark of friendship. it occurred to me that i could keep hanging out with him back home if i wanted back home. i could drive to menlo park. we could hang out a few times before i head back to new york.
in hindsight i realize this clinging to this pleasant conversation, this person i just met - this is the seed of what has caused me so much stress over the years. i don't let go of friendships easily. the year after graduation, i cried on a friend's couch in San Diego about that. I set up a spreadsheet for my close friends and visited and kept up with them but they had all moved to different places and i couldn't stay in touch. and it broke my heart.
back to my roommate: why can't i just have a pleasant conversation and just leave it at that?
i know on a macro level my hobbies involve some kind of clinging. i listen to korean songs, and why can't i just enjoy them and let them go? why do i have to learn korean lol. it's because i got a hit from it once and then like an addict i want it again. i cling to it.
i want to observe more where in my life i am not equanimous / have attachments. it's incredibly interesting.