Attachment, Non-Attachment and Dissociation: Finding the Middle Way To Enjoying your Life Fully

Non-attachment is a major part of any path of inner growth. All the great spiritual traditions teach it in one form or another. As the Buddha said (many times in one way or another) “All suffering comes from attachment”.

Usually  the way to overcome attachment we are told is to practice non-attachment. People being told this often misunderstand and go to the extreme of dissociation (dis-association), completely cutting themselves off from their enjoyments, their emotions, their passion, their enthusiasm.

As a result of falling into dissociation, they lose their authentic connection to their life, relationships and their spiritual path.

So, really non-attachment is a path that steers between the extremes and illusions of both attachment and dissociation.

Lets define our terms:

Attachment is a state of mind that has become so absorbed into or addicted to an activity, person or object that it cannot be happy without that “thing”.

Dissociation is when we completely cut ourself off emotionally, personally, mentally from a person, object or enjoyment in the false belief that non-attachment means being completely above and beyond any kind of human connection, if we are enjoying ourself it must be wrong, and cannot be spiritual!

Genuine non-attachment is the key. A person who has balanced non-attachment is someone who is able to fully enjoy and engage in their relationships, work, leisure activities and so on without being totally reliant upon those things for his or her inner happiness and sense of wellbeing.

So, with non-attachment it is not just a matter of cutting ourself off from attachments, it is also avoiding the extreme of dissociation. In order to be happy, we need to be fully committed to life, we need to be passionate, we need to care, we need to get emotional, we need to be able to positively direct our desires toward constructive goals.

Many well intentioned and aspiring mediators and “spiritual” people live a life of inner conflict because they think they are practicing non-attachment, when in fact they are practicing dissociation which put bluntly causes misery in the long term.

If you know the difference between attachment, non-attachment and dissociation, you can begin treading the happy, vibrant, engaged path of non-attachment in your daily life. It is a comfortable, radiant middle way that enriches us all the way up and all the way down; physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

Here’s to all of us trading the middle path of engaged non-attachment!

Thanks for reading,


Article © Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use it, but you must seek Toby’s permission first. Contact