The foolish person thinks,
Dhammapada: verse 62
Happy New Year!
It is well understood that attachment is the condition for our suffering and that whatever we are attached to will hurt us This attachment will always manifests in a possessive relationship with life and everything that it contains, and is revealed in the words ‘I, me, mine and my.’ When using these words without wisdom and understanding we open the gates to our unhappiness. The answer to the question, ‘who suffers ?’ is always the same, ‘I do !’
Attachment is always possessive, but what is it that we think we own ?
What is it that we can keep forever ? If we don’t own this mind and body that we call ours, how can we own anything else ? If we can’t own it , how can we control it ?
In truth it is only the ones who don’t understand reality who try to control it !
To be attached to our friends, family, country, relationships etc, is easy to understand and the consequential suffering does not come as a surprise. Even the attachment to ideas, beliefs and concepts is not difficult to explain or point to the inevitable suffering when they are attacked or simply not agreed with. We will always know whether the view we hold is a belief or a personal and direct experience of the truth by the way we feel when it is attacked. If it feels personal, an attack against you, it’s just an idea or a belief you are carrying.
If we truly don’t mind what others feel or say, this particular truth has been understood at the intuitve or heart level and is a part of us. Now there is never the need for us to defend it or later, attack from it. When we know, we know, and that knowing can never be taken away from us.
However, attachment is much more subtle than these simple ideas. Attachment and it’s suffering belong to an aspect of the mind called in Theravada Buddhism, ‘vedana’ usually translated into English as ‘feelings,’ or ‘sensations.’
It is said that in reality there are only three feelings and that these feeling dominate our life, moment after moment.
They are : pleasant feeling (happiness), unpleasant feeling (unhappiness), neutral feeling (boredom).
As human beings we want always to be happy and so expend enormous amounts of time and energy into this pursuit. However, it is not possible to live this life and not experience the other two aspects of vedana. As much as we may try to avoid them, unhappiness and boredom present themselves to us at every possible opportunity.
However, this is life, and with wisdom cultivated from love and acceptance, there are no problems. The feeling of happiness (pleasant sensation) arises and passes away. The feeling of unhappiness (unpleasant sensation) arises and passes away. The feeling of boredom (neutral sensation) arises and passes away. Although it is difficult and often uncomfortable, when we can be at peace with these feelings or sensations without wanting to change them, they will fall away by thelselves and we will be at one with the ever changing nature of the mind.
The Great Way is not difficult.
picking and choosing.
Zen Master Joshu
So, in conventional language we can say that we are attached to our children, family, friends country, etc and we will all understand at this level.
At a deeper level we can say that what we are attached to is only our personal idea of our children, family, friends country, etc.
However, here is the Dhammic truth that we must understand if we are to go beyond attachment and it’s inevitable suffering.
What we are really attached to is not the person, belief or idea, neither is it our idea of that person, belief or idea. it is the feeling or sensation (vedana) that these things bring.
The thought of our children brings a happy feeling. The thought of our children being hurt brings and unhappy feeling. Conditioned by our attachment to these feelings we make our we make our life.
Every moment the mind presents something to us, something conditioned from outside or something conditioned by the mind itself and we grasp or reject that which is pleasant or unpleasant accordingly.
Without true understanding we will quote scriptures and famous masters but never really understand why life stays the same.
This however does not mean that we should not be involved in life or romantic or emotional relationships. In fact the opposite is true.
Love completely and without reservation, but don’t be attached to a result.
Give fully, but don’t be attached to a result.
Immerse yourself fully in Dhamma, but don’t wait for illumination.
Without attachment there is just life manifesting moment after moment. Sometimes the sun shines, sometimes it rains, but everything is O.K provided we do not cling to an idea of how it should be.
May all beings be happy!
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