Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

A Glimpse into Attachment and Aversion


As a musician, returning from a tour can be tough. After nights of gigging, seeing new places, meeting new people, being the center of attention – to come back to the mundane existence of the same old neighborhood and dusty apartment can feel very dissapointing. It stirs up huge amounts of attachment to the “exciting parade” of touring, and aversion to my “boring life back home”.

As they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn. How true. Allow me to share the rays of today’s sunrise with you.

Whether it’s love one wants, or money, or security, or an object – the feeling of “being incomplete” until the object of desire or situation is acquired is itself the source of misery. How many of us walk around feeling incomplete all day long? Maybe your job is not good enough, the car, the house needs fixing, I want a new gadget, etc. It goes on endlessly until the madness is seen for what it is. Must we walk around feeling incomplete? We often do so automatically without inquiring into this feeling.

For about a two weeks an intense feeling of wanting has come over me due to the ending of a relationship. Being the spiritual seeker that I am, I decided to use this situation to look deeply into the nature and causes of my pain and suffering. It’s one thing to do it in the abstract – but to really apply knowledge and insight when the emotional rubber hits the road is quite the test!

By knowing the feeling of “not having” this person in my life, it follows logically that I know what it feels like to “have” her, right? Both feelings are accessible to me, right? If I know the pain of being without something, then I know the love of being with it, right? Could I somehow find harmony and oneness in this duality of having vs not having? Is there one big reality that contains both feelings? Can I discover the “coin” that these 2 sides belong to?

I started doing this inquiry on the plane ride home from Europe, and at the same time found myself contemplating how we were chasing daytime around the globe. I observed that it is always day, and it is always night somewhere on earth. There’s always part of the globe illuminated and part not. These 2 are linked, like yin & yang. One can think it is night yet it is day somewhere else, right? It’s not day or night – it’s both!

Aha! From an earthbound standpoint it either has to be day OR night – but stepping back to a more cosmic viewpoint, one sees it is equally both at all times. Could I see that feelings of having and not having are also aspects of one unified, non dual reality as well? Could I “go cosmic” in regards to my feelings of wanting versus having?

Much to my surprise, I easily called up the feeling of the “having” the love I yearned for – and let go of the lacking feelings for a brief moment. I fooled myself by asking if I could allow myself 30 seconds of relief to feel the “having feelings”. I felt it not as a memory, but a present moment feeling of “I have it now” – much like what is prescribed in visualization books. In an instant, I entered a whole new place through letting go of a lacking feeling.

Just think of all the things you have had in your life, toys as a child for example. You may no longer have them, but you might not feel that you need them to be complete now. You can feel that you have them even if you don’t, right? Can you see that the feeling of having is not necessarily based on the physical presence of an object? Like wise, you can have something and feel that you don’t have. Look at the person with the 5 million dollar house who wants a 20 million dollar house – they feel they don’t “have”. Crazy but true.

For example – I feel that I have my beloved Grandmother in my heart, with no longing to have here on this plane. The same for the beloved pets I have had. They are with me, and I feel that I have them despite their not being here. On the flip side, I have been on international tours and still held onto the feeling of “I need to get more gigs”. Crazy but true.

Can you see now that the sensations of having and not-having are ONLY feelings? I repeat – crazy but true. But sane to investigate this! 🙂

Lester Levenson laid it out simply. Want equals lack. Give up the lack feelings, and have it all. Simple and profound.

A shift in my viewpoint started a deep sense of “everything is ok”, “it is all given”, and peace emerged. Things still are what they are, but the feelings of “I’m incomplete” and “I want” transformed into “It’s all ok” and “I am at peace”. A shift in perception! Now that’s a true miracle.


Here’s a little illustration you might enjoy:

“Christmas is coming and it’s time to get a tree. A feeling of incompleteness settles because we want but don’t have a tree. It’s urgent and necessary – we gotta have a tree. We get the tree and have to decorate it. More wanting, we gotta do it and won’t feel complete until we do. We do it, and sit back and ahhh…we feel complete for a little while. A week later – hey the tree is getting old, we gotta take it down. We gotta put all the ornaments away and sweep and dispose of the tree properly – more wanting. We’re incomplete until we do so. We do it and feel complete again now that the house is all cleaned up.”

Ok – nothing wrong with a Christmas tree, of course! But what I am looking at is the thread of “incompleteness” sewn through the experience and the relatively few moments of feeling complete woven through this whole scenario. Isn’t the feeling of completeness accessible to us more than this? I think so.

This example is just a microcosm of how we live life. I know there is a happier way. The feeling of completeness is always accessible to us, just the same way silence sits behind noise, waiting patiently.

Happy Holidays! I hope Santa brings you everything you want 🙂


Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

7 thoughts on “A Glimpse into Attachment and Aversion

  1. Good post, good work. I shall read some more…

  2. Hi Adam,

    Your post really stirred up some emotions and made me wonder if I’m at peace or if I want more! You are right that the feeling of completeness is always accessible to us and I shall live up to that spirit this Christmas and following up to the new year 🙂

    But to put it into an interesting perspective, I didn’t feel complete until I purchased your Stevie Wonder’s DVD and after I did so… I felt complete (for a while) – now I want more!

    Hope that the Christmas will bring you the feeling of completeness and more musical prowess!

  3. Hey! Thank you for this post! (and for all your great guitar music on YouTube! I found your music through Sungha’s YouTube posts.) I often write about Yin & Yang in my blog posts (see here, for example: ) and so I appreciate when I read others doing the same!

  4. Hi Adam,
    how interesting that you are quoting Lester Levenson. When you performed at my cafe and spent time at the cabin, I hadn’t known about Sedona Method. Not sure if you had that knowledge at that time either.
    However, after healing a client of a wrist injury that he had carried with him for more than 20 years, he shared his recent experience of taking a Sedona Method course in Arizona.
    I investigated and now use that simple, yet effective process in my own life and healing work.
    Then I recently discovered Ho’oponopono. That is as interesting in a similar, yet perhaps more challenging to understand way.
    It all comes down to the basics. Love is the state of the Divine from which all inspiration arises. You dear friend, and your music are inspirational.
    That place of the Divine within you, IS you.
    Love and Joy

  5. Hi Adam,

    I happened to catch you on Youtube tonight playing “I Can’t make you love me”. I’ve just been sitting here in the dark letting yr guitar wash over me..Truly amazing and heart rending. Hav you played an acoustic version of “Apologize” by Timbaland? My daughter sings that song and I would love to hear her with an acoustics set-up.

    Anyway, thanks for touching a piece of me that’s kept hidden most of the time. have a great Xmas



    In cold, grey, England

  6. when I’m with somebody, I feel complete, but I feel I’m the half the man I used to be as well 😉

  7. I don’t know Adam. The whole thing smells a bit like a scam we play on ourselves if we merely try to bring on this sense of “having” by eschewing the “longing”. I would guess it’s cold comfort to someone hungry, cold, and alone under a bridge because there’s nothing of reality in it. No matter how much we try to convince our minds that all is well, our external reality will always unveil the truth of the matter.

    Also, sometimes real joy is found in the longing rather than the having. Once we have a thing, we begin to take it for granted, and before long the joy disappears. But there is a certain joy to be found in longing, desperately seeking out a hidden jewel. The closer we come to having it, the more that joy is intensified. But once the jewel is ours, joy quickly leaves.

    Have a good one.

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