Detachment

lunamoth

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Detachment seems to be a central part of most religions and spiritual practices. Let go of material things, don't cling to the world, remove desire, die to the false self...don't you ever wonder just exactly what will be left were we to achieve it? :)

Sometimes I feel that I have to work on detachment even when I don't want to, perhaps that's the main point of detachment. If it's easy then perhaps you didn't need to do it in the first place. But, I can be too detached from things, can't I? I mean, if my husband would not be too happy if I decided to detach myself from my desire to have a clean house. I barely cook as it is because I have never had a strong attachment to food, perhaps I need a little more attachment in that area (no, we don't eat out--we just eat simply). The harder things to detach from are my opinions and ingrained habits. I used to be almost O-C about keeping my desk and lab bench at work neat. Having kids went a long way toward detaching me from obsessive orderliness. And what about my opinions and thirst for knowledge? Who would I be without them? Yet these are the very things I should detach from.

In my worldview I believe that I get help in detaching from the things I probably most need to, but it's not always easy or pleasant to discern what's going on. I'll admit it, probably one of my biggest attachments is to my home. I'm a nester and a homebody, and I like to have a comfortable, inviting home and even though what we have is modest, I am attached to it. And I am attached to my friends and neighbors and the church I go it. But, I've had lots of practice in detaching from these things because for one reason or another it seems like we are always moving. Every time we move I mourn all that we have to leave behind, even the things I did not really appreciate while I was there. Sometimes it feels like I am reincarnated every four or so years, which is about how often we make a big move. We've been in MO for almost four years, I've started to put down roots, and now guess what. Well, we don't know for sure but my husband is interviewing...can you say Denver?

In Christianity we are supposed to detach from our idols. Really, talking about idolatry in monotheism or detachment in eastern religions seem like pretty similar things. In monotheism, what is it that gets between us and God? In eastern religions what is it that continues to drag us into samsara? Are these the same things?

Pardon my ramblings. What are you attached to? What do you think?

peace,
lunamoth
 
Namaste Lunamoth,

thank you for the post.

lunamoth said:
In eastern religions what is it that continues to drag us into samsara? Are these the same things?

we need to a bit specific here.. not all Eastern traditions have a conception of Samsara, in particular Taoism doesn't have this conception.

within the Dharma traditions, however, the primary factor which contributes to the cycle of samsara is Ignorance, not attachment.

attachment is, if you will, a symptom of the underlying Ignorance of reality which binds a being. it is, to borrow a metaphor, the root of the weed. we cannot simply remove the top of the weed and expect it to remain gone. we have to yank that joker out by the roots!

What are you attached to?

i am a very poor Buddhist. i have many attachments, sadly to say.

though.. one of them i have let go. i used to be quite attached to my anger.. perhaps dependent upon it, more closely describes the attachment that i had. anger was what warmed my body, it gave me sustanance and allowed me to function as a sembelance human.

fortunately, i've been able to let go of alot of this and resolve most of the rest... however, to my chagrin, i note that seemingly little situations can, under the right circumstances, can trigger an angry outburst almost without my violition. when it happens, it is hard to acknowledge what is going on... but... when i can... i am able to lessen the angers impact and, lessen the chances of it arising once more.

metta,

~v
 
Vajradhara said:
we need to a bit specific here.. not all Eastern traditions have a conception of Samsara, in particular Taoism doesn't have this conception.

Thank you for pointing this out. If ignorance is bliss, then I am in heaven, esp when it comes to eastern philosophies and religions.

within the Dharma traditions, however, the primary factor which contributes to the cycle of samsara is Ignorance, not attachment.

attachment is, if you will, a symptom of the underlying Ignorance of reality which binds a being. it is, to borrow a metaphor, the root of the weed. we cannot simply remove the top of the weed and expect it to remain gone. we have to yank that joker out by the roots!

Thank you again. This is a very helpful explanation. Unfortuantely my own root of ignorance is deep and wide...

peace,
lunamoth
 
Hi Vajradhara, another thought about your post. I take it that the way to remove Ignorance is through one's practice? And, are our direct efforts at removing attachments useless? Do we try to treat the symptom without removing the root cause?

lunamoth
 
Namaste lunamoth,

thank you for the post.

lunamoth said:
Hi Vajradhara, another thought about your post. I take it that the way to remove Ignorance is through one's practice? And, are our direct efforts at removing attachments useless? Do we try to treat the symptom without removing the root cause?

lunamoth

indeed... in our tradition, practice is the primary method by which one can remove the "blinders", so to speak, from our perception.

this is not the *only* method.... it is, however, the method that most often works for the majority of beings.

our efforts at reducing and/or removing attachments is not futile, regardless of our relative recognition of ignorance or not. the lessening of attachment to any object is a worthwhile endeavor. the salient point to bear in mind is that, without knowing the underlying source for our attachment, we are (borrowing the garden metaphor) pruning the branches rather than pruning the roots.

we can and often do treat the symptom without really addressing the underlying cause. we may not know what that cause actually is and thus, all we can really work on are the symptoms. in a sense it is like diagnostic medicine... we will try different things to determine the symptom based on the causes that present.

again... with the growing things analogy... it is well and good to prune our trees and pull weeds from our garden. however, if we fail to pull the weed out by its roots, it will, given the right causes and conditions, re-grow.

does that make sense?

metta,

~v
 
Lunamoth, as always Vajradhara has explained Dharma quite well. The "ignorance" he speaks of course in Dharma relates to our conceptions of "self" and "things" in general. To the degree we see our "self" as a "self-" a more or less permanent, independent, "thing," we set up a variety of cravings and aversions in our functioning, (in Buddhism, of course, those are the "3 poisons:" greed, hatred, and ignorance). So that is why "ignorance" of who we may ultimately be is the root of suffering. Though, as the old saying goes, "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional;" "enlightenment" doesn't give you a "get-out-of-pain-free card." As to what I have let to "de-tach" from-the list is endless:)
Have a good one, Earl
 
Thank you both, Vaj and earl. Those posts are helpful and nicely explained.

I'm wondering whether anyone has considered whether Buddhist practice, or any meditation or contemplative practice, has actual psychological healing power. I do not know a lot about psych counseling or therapy, but it seems that a lot of it is based upon some kind of talk therapy. A contemplative practice that assists one to let go of those roots (i love the gardening metaphors, BTW) seems like it accomplishes the same thing, but perhaps without a being ever learning exactly what it is they are letting go of.

Just some more uneducated musings. :)

If any of our Jewish and Muslim friends are reading, I'd be intersted to know about their religion's views on detachment and/or contemplative life.

And how about secularists/atheists? One doesn't necessarily need a worldview that includes God or religion to find benefit in letting go of some things. Is there such a thing as a non-religious meditation practice?

lunamoth
 
I'm a therapist by profession, Lunamoth-in the field nigh'on to 25 years. The biggest thing in psychotherapeutic innovation the past 8 years or so is the incorporation of Buddhist psychology and/or mindfulness meditative practices. Many many books published.

I was raised nominally Christian. Stopped "cold turkey" & proceeded to study Buddhism for some 20+ years before fortuitously discovering mystical Christian writings about 3 years ago. It amazed me how very similar they could be to Buddhism and as you may know their contemplative practices as in desert/hesychastic tradition bare similarities to some Buddhist meditative practices. They certainly emphasized overcoming what they termed the "passions", (or actually spoke of transmuting them into a "higher" form of passion), and they used that term in a manner essentially analogous to emotional patterns Buddhists would see as the form of functioning common to the human mind that is still tightly in the grip of "samsara."

Take care, Earl
 
hey Luna,

i know a way to detach yourself:p

for me, the one i like best is tell the truth or stop telling the lie about myself.
you know all the stories upon stories in my head, like a carousel that never stops long enough to get off.
glad i finally jumped off.
 
Bandit said:
hey Luna,

i know a way to detach yourself:p

for me, the one i like best is tell the truth or stop telling the lie about myself.
you know all the stories upon stories in my head, like a carousel that never stops long enough to get off.
glad i finally jumped off.

Yes, telling the truth is the right way. But sometimes we are good at deceiving ourselves. And as Vaj say, if you don't pull out the root, the weed grows back. 'course, it's interesting that this week's Sunday Gospel reading was about not pulling out the weeds that grow among the wheat.

What do you think about that?

lunamoth
 
lunamoth said:
Yes, telling the truth is the right way. But sometimes we are good at deceiving ourselves. And as Vaj say, if you don't pull out the root, the weed grows back. 'course, it's interesting that this week's Sunday Gospel reading was about not pulling out the weeds that grow among the wheat.

What do you think about that?

lunamoth

i think it is true. & it can come back 3 times as big. but we should pull it a the right time & not pluck up the good stuff next to it.
decieving ourselves is kind of what i meant when i said stop telling the lie about myself.

who am i, (i know i am a child of the King-but besides that) why am i, what about tomorrow, will i mess that up again, will they like me, did they like me, what is wrong with me, am i too arrogant, ...that is the carousel of stories i used to ride. i think a lot of people do this & dont realize the cycle.

do you know what i mean?
 
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