Welcome to That’s Philosophical, a newsletter that probably talks too much about Buddhism. Once a week, I send you inspirational ideas to become a more mindful person in a world that can’t take a break.
You can read the web version here.
For me, the Buddhism philosophy is one of the best ones at identifying my weak values or bad habits. Sometimes you just…live, but then you see that everything you did was stupid and doesn’t actually give you fulfillment. Then you try to change your bad habits. But you always feel bad when you notice you keep repeating these mistakes
I learned about the next thing that is going to make me feel bad- the attachment effect.
The Poison of Life
Even though Buddhism is all about getting joy out of life, Buddha was sure that life is full of suffering, or more precisely- dissatisfactions. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we will always be followed by a feeling that something is not right.
According to Buddhism, there are 4 steps to achieving the permanent state of joy- Nirvana, known as the Four Noble Truths (simplified):
Recognize that life is full of suffering.
Recognize the “3 poisons”- ignorance, attachment, and aversion.
The end of suffering is Nirvana.
How to achieve Nirvana? The path to inner peace.
The easier way to understand this according to K.R. Norman is:
"This is pain"
"This is the origin of pain"
"This is the cessation of pain"
"This is the path leading to the cessation of pain."
One of the hardest challenges on the path to Nirvana is overcoming the 3 poisons, and one of them is attachment.
What is Attachment?
The concept of attachment is based on incompleteness. We attach to material things in order to feel complete, but it’s an illusion. Buddhism says we should stop being attached to things, we can be fulfilled without them. Once we understand this, we don’t need attachment anymore.
Attachment can be different, it can be an attachment to opinions, beauty, stuff, etc. But the universal truth is that we should understand that change is everywhere and we shouldn't try to keep everything in the same place.
How Do You Remove Attachment?
I like a fake rose analogy. Why do we prefer real ones over plastic flowers? Artificial roses never die and always look perfect. Real ones, on the other hand, won't last forever and you have to look after them every day. We will always choose the real one, even though we know this beauty won’t last. The same happens with all things in life. If it's something worthwhile, then it's probably going to change, and it’s okay. We will have to let go.
“Nothing is permanent, except change.”
Not being attached to anything doesn't mean you should live without love, joy, and close people around. According to Buddhism, real love comes from genuine understanding and compassion, not from attachment.
And not being attached doesn’t also mean rejecting everything. As odd as it may sound, you should aim for “non-attachment”. As Barbara O’Brien writes:
Occasionally when Buddhist talk about the problem of attachment, someone will raise a hand and say, “Is it bad to be attached to Buddhism?” Yes, it is unskillful, in fact. Then, often, the next comment is, “Well, then, I’ll stay away from dharma centers and not get attached!” Um, “staying away” also is attachment, sorry.
Apparently staying away from things is also attachment. So should you be mindful and not let it become a part of your life? I don’t really know.
It is actually really interesting because most religions are all about commitment and staying true to them, but Buddhism just puts out the philosophy and waits for people to come and use it.
Buddha once said: “do not mistake the finger pointing to the moon for the moon”, and wow, hearing this was eye-opening. Buddhism’s purpose is to get you from point A to Point B. It’s pointing in the direction and says what is better to do. The philosophy is just a tool, not something we should be 100% committed to.
Takeaway: What’s Your Take?
While most religious philosophies are about working hard towards some state of greater peace, Buddhism just says to settle down and find it within. We all are joyful deep inside, we just need to identify our bad habits and mindsets that steal our joy.
I realized this is the most unintended link That’s Philosophical has to Buddhism. When creating this newsletter, I wanted to slow down too and focus on what’s inside of me.
“Better a single day of life seeing the reality of arising and passing away than a hundred years of existence remaining blind to it.”
I don’t know why I feel like I completely misunderstood attachments, what do you think is meant by attachment in Buddhism and how do you get rid of them? Is it the attachment to material things to feel complete? Or is it just about the fear of change? I would really love to hear your opinion below :)
Thank you for reading!! See you in a week guys.
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