Contemplations from the 17th lesson on the Shiva Sutras. 


The perfection of the aspirant is discovered through a veil of attachment. 

This week’s Sutra has an intriguing ring to it, and its aroma is redolent with an air of almost mischievous paradox. So what is Shiva, in full dancing, prancing and chancing mode, tantalising our noodles (minds) with this time? 

Surely attachment is a no-no… a spiritual cul de sac strewn with the wreckage of many a fragile human heart? Don’t all the teachings in all the wisdom traditions tell us so?! Surely attachment deserves its reputation as the very bondage of the soul, the DIY prison cell that incarcerates us all, the direct cause of ALL our suffering and the staunch limitation on every aspect of our lives… the ruthless killer of all joy, no less!!?? Yes this is true. Attachment can and does cause our lives to shut down and darken quicker than a branch of Blockbuster Video; so what is The True Teacher as The Cosmic Dancer leading us on a light fandango toward here? How can our perfection come through such a clearly contrary concept? 

This seemingly playful and contradictory Sutra is saying, listen seekers, attachment ain’t so bad. Really it’s not! The root cause of all our worldly suffering is in fact a blessing incognito, an essential stepping stone and stage post en route to perfection as a liberated being. Shiva’s saying, with a provocatively arched eyebrow and an enigmatic half-smile playing on his lips, attachment is a necessity, it’s a means to the enlightened state; think wobbles on the road to balance in Tree Pose and you’ve got the general idea. He’s asserting that, for the simple reason that pain instructs like nothing else, attachment should be viewed as a hyper-effective learning resource with the power to make super-clean detachment ninjas of us all. Precisely because it clogs and stings, blackens and fractures, scuttles and sinks our vital vessels like an egoic Exocet; attachment shows us precisely what not to do. It thus reveals the efficacy and outright majesty of focussing on its tricky, less sticky counter-posture… detachment. Through this process of attaching, suffering, learning and rehabilitating, the aspirant is led lovingly through the steps of the Cosmic Dance by Shiva to eventual maturity, self-reliance and ultimately perfection of the Soul. 

The veils of attachment, or curtains of clinging; these dastardly drapes of desperate, dire dependency, are hung says Mahadev, all along the path to perfection. It is by passing through them with tenacity, consciousness and courage that the aspirant gradually reveals her/his latent perfection and finds liberation in so doing. 

By discovering how toxic the effects of clinging and grasping are to the psychology and physiology, we incrementally build a certain awareness of when we’re attaching or even just about to attach. Here we become more astute at winding our sensory tentacles back in quickly and efficiently. This way, in time, we can pass through these veils of attachment like hot Durga swords through butter. At this point our ‘Cling Time’ becomes less and less as we process the inner mechanism to attach with increasing skill and discernment, learning to ‘drop’ external objects like a ‘Hot Potato’ before our hands get burned. 

Shiva has bright, heart-warming news as a footnote to this Sutra, and it too is laced with delicious paradox. As the bold, noble Yogi proceeds along the road less travelled toward Self-realisation, swatting veils of attachment and all manner of other ethereal, membranous obstacles to one side, with the Staff of Shiva held firm in hand, she/he develops in a dichotomous two step Tandava, a 
divine dance in which the Yogi simultaneously opens increasing his/her capacity for attachment, but equally grows more and more established in the Self and dextrous in the art of loving liberated detachment. Such rigorous, razor’s edge journeying is not for the faint of heart, nor for one who is content with mediocrity, stagnation and torpor. But it is the exhilarating seat of the pants, heart in the mouth choice of the Yogi who seeks to serve the greater energy and make their life a grateful, dignified offering and a truthful, meaningful experience. 



The perfection of the aspirant is discovered through a veil of attachment. 

Pass through these veils, although they sting, 
They teach us wisely not to cling. 
We need to feel attachment first, 
Before we can it’s bubble burst. 
Then once we’ve made this bold correction, 
We march on swift to our perfection.

~ by Elliot Donnelly.


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