Love is one of the most used words. I love myself, I love my family, and I love ice cream. What is the difference between love and attachment? Is attachment pre-requisite for love? Or is it possible to be detached and full of love? Superficially, it is difficult to distinguish between attachment and love. In Vedanta, we find attachment is deplored but love is acceptable. While love is a source of joy, attachment leads to pain and bondage. One of the secrets of spiritual life is to know the difference between love and attachment. But the two have got so intertwined that we have both love and attachment in our life.
What is attachment? The Sanskrit word is Raga or Moh. Detachment is Viraga or letting go. Attachment can be to a place, person or object and is seen as getting involved in the world while detachment is seen as isolating ourselves from the world. Attachment develops with sense of 'I' and this sense of ego spreads its tentacles in the form of ownership and leads to idea of mine. 'I' seldom stands by itself. 'I' always wants mine. 'I' is weaker than not 'I'. So 'I' makes itself larger by owning something like my family, my community or my country. Thus, 'I' feels itself larger and it develops into 'Mine'. To defend this 'I', we add more 'Mine' and thus give rise to Raga.
'I' vanishes in deep sleep and so does 'mine'. So mine cannot exist unless 'I' exist. This attachment to 'I' and 'mine' produces all the problems we have in life. Attachment also brings fear, fear of losing. What am I attached to, what motivates me in life? Depending on the answer we get we will be able to understand the source of joy and sorrow, freedom and bondage. Attachment leads to bondage and stress while detachment leads to freedom.
True love wants freedom and joy just like detachment. The more detached we are, the more loving we become. Rama, Christ and Buddha were detached, yet very loving.