The key to freeing yourself from attachment is knowing that you will be ok, safe, even if what you are attached to disappears. And one cannot do that without having faith that you will be ok regardless what life throws your way. This is of course contrary to everything we’ve been raised to believe, to our life experience (unless we examine it very carefully).
The way out of this conundrum and into the light is practicing The Heart’s Embrace (see my post of that title). Only then, when nothing offends, when your mind rests undisturbed, can you feel/know that you will be ok regardless what happens, que sera sera.
And when you know that, you are able to drop your attachment even to someone you love very dearly. This does not mean that you love the person any less. It means that you are not attached to that love; you know that if something should happen that takes that person away from you, be it death or something else, you will be ok.
Then there is the deepest attachment of all, and that is to life. Even that attachment I’ve dropped. Inspired by the story of a monk who every night turned a cup on his nightstand upside down in recognition of the fact that he might not wake, I have a practice where I turn a photo of my family on its face before going to bed and say, “I do not fear death for death is a natural part of life. It can come at any time, and when it does I will be prepared for I know that I have lived a good life: I have made a difference in other people’s lives and offered joy to others.” I have found that to be a very freeing practice.
This is another example of the truth I have quoted often from an ancient Chinese poem, “Affirming Faith in Mind.” “When faith and mind are not separate, and not separate are mind and faith, this is beyond all words, all thought. For here there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today; there is only the present moment, all else is thought.”
People often ask how one can have faith in a world like ours, how can one have faith that you will be ok regardless what happens. The answer is in two parts. The first is that the faith spoken of here is not faith in anyone other than yourself. It is the faith that by returning to your true Buddha self free of your ego-mind, nothing can harm your spirit, nothing can disturb your peace and happiness. If one doesn’t act out of fear, if the mind rests undisturbed, then you will be ok.
The other part is knowing what being ok, being safe means spiritually. As related in my post, “Safety Defined,” while for most people being safe means free of external harm, to a Buddhist, being safe means free of mental suffering. We can’t change the world, we cannot keep harmful things from happening to us, but we can prevent our suffering because that is a mental state. That is a product of our ego-mind, not our heart, our true Buddha self.