Buddhism and Non-Attachment - add-on 7.23.19

I realized I glossed over the concept of detachment in my post from a couple of days ago.

When I was in my thirties, I perverted the concept of de-tachment in order to justify isolating myself and not letting anyone get really close to me. I thought it would be interesting to share someone else’s overview of detachment and how it’s perceived in Buddhism - because so much of how we view the world is through Western civilization and the Patriarchy, it’s really important to create a new pair of glasses in order to truly * SEE * the things and the concepts and the beauty of Eastern philosophy.

Let me be clear - the reason I’m using someone else’s words to explain this is because I’m a fucking rookie all the way around when it comes to Buddhism and meditation, etc. It’s something I’ve been exploring since college when I got sick, but I never went in deep. Now that I’m spending more and more time investing in my mental health and thankfully, finding friends who ARE enlightened about this, it helps elevate me.

There are a lot of descriptions of attachment and detachment since it’s a huge fundamental part of Buddhism - it was a misstep for me to casually mention it and then move on through my post without delving deeper.

So much of what’s wrong in our culture is deep attachment to things, to our outer shell, to concepts like marriage and status, money, all of it involves serious attachment.

I’ve known just enough Buddhism all these years to be dangerous. But I knew, I hoped! One day, I’d go deeper and really study it further. Now that I’m finding some new meditation groups and my friends who are Native American, I hope to delve deeper into Eastern philosophy, Buddhism and indigenous cultures that revered giving back to community, honoring the Earth, taking care of the sick and the poor, being kind to the animal kingdom, all the values that I hold dear.

It’s been a bit of a nightmare to be on the hamster wheel - that I willingly got on, that’s on ME and I take responsibility for that - of trying to achieve, trying to BE, trying to get somewhere.

What made me think about posting this is the conversation I had at the one on one meditation “class” last week.

I thought about how I was judging my writing - when I said maybe it’s irrational dogshit (judgment) or new age gold (still judgment) and they were extremes - which is the deal when codependent. Hovering in the middle, where HEALTHY exists, is always my challenge. It’s very easy for me to swing between the extremes. I’ve lived my whole life that way.

But I can’t anymore. If I want to be TRULY healthy - and the one thing I have a lot of control over is my THOUGHTS and how I REACT - that’s really the only thing I have control over, then I need to get more centered. The extremes have only brought me pain.

One of the reasons I’ve always been drawn to the polyamorous lifestyle is because it involves SHARING and a detachment from feeling like we “own” the other person - that’s always been super important to me, but I didn’t have the language or understanding of why I felt that way. There are a zillion other reasons which I need to share slowly - I still feel very…naked, when I share even a little bit. But after my phone call with the young person today, and thinking about my meditation chat last week (maybe I’ll try to go tonight even though I’m exhausted and about to meet friends for quick coffee), I think it’s more and more important for me to get out of my own way, stop judging what I’m saying or doing. Even that’s a judgment.

What I write just IS. Whatever it is, it IS and there doesn’t need to be a judgment attached to it.

Anyway, I don’t know what I can or can’t handle in this new chapter / life of mine regarding the poly thing. But I do think, it’s all tied together, which is why I’m mentioning it here. It’s so important that young people feel like they can experiment and explore without the kind of judgment too many generations have faced. I want them to feel FREE to be whoever they are, even if I struggle with it, or not a huge fan of having someone I love feel distant. It’s more important that the people I love understand that I want them to fully actualize, figure out who they truly are, with the knowledge that I’m here, always and short of becoming a serial murderer of children or something, I’ll still be here, when they want to re-connect.

It’s not easy! OMG it’s not easy. I’ve got that Jewish mama, Spanish blood, be next to me, codependent want to wrap myself around them, spoon feed them soup and never let them go.

But that’s not healthy. What’s healthy is the detachment and knowing that we’re always going to BE connected - and that’s the core of Buddhism and detachment, there is no need to feel * suffering * at feeling detached, because we are all one and connected in so many energetic ways that we’re never truly DISconnected, so to be sad about it is very human, but not necessary. At least this is my interpretation of it.

It feels really important to me that I get my head screwed on straight as the world keeps getting worse. The young people need as many adults as possible who have done their work, and can explain things and how to navigate the world as so many good AND bad norms are broken down. Eastern philosophy has been around a long time, obviously! And an excellent touchstone for anyone that’s feeling adrift at sea - a feeling I know all too well.

I really do want to focus on bringing more elevated conversation and love to the world - but I’ve got to work through my own anger, and frustrations and limitations first in order to do that. Must go to coffee!

Here is the overview that I found but there’s a on excellent reading on Buddhism in all kinds of places!

Here is an overview which I hope is okay to repost with acknowledge that it’s from this site:

https://www.learnreligions.com/why-do-buddhists-avoid-attachment-449714 - check it out:

To understand the concept of non-attachment, you'll need to understand its place within the overall structure of Buddhist philosophy and practice. The basic premises of Buddhism are known as the Four Noble Truths. 

The Basics of Buddhism

The First Noble Truth: Life Is “Suffering”

The Buddha taught that life as we currently know it is full of suffering, the closest English translation of the word dukkha. This word has many connotations, including “unsatisfactoriness,” which is perhaps an even better translation than "suffering." To say that life is suffering in a Buddhist sense is to say that wherever we go, we are followed by a vague feeling that things are not entirely satisfactory, not quite right. The recognition of this dissatisfaction is what Buddhists call the First Noble Truth.

It is possible to know the reason for this suffering or dissatisfaction, though, and it comes from three sources. First, we are dissatisfied because we don’t really understand the true nature of things. This confusion (avidya) is most often translated as ignoranceand its principle feature is that we aren’t aware of the interconnectedness of all things. We imagine, for example, that there is a “self” or “I” that exists independently and separately from all other phenomena. This is perhaps the central misconception identified by Buddhism, and it is responsible for the next two reasons for suffering.

The Second Noble Truth: Here Are the Reasons for Our Suffering

Our reaction to this misunderstanding about our separateness in the world leads to either attachment/clinging or aversion/hatred. It’s important to know that the Sanskrit word for the first concept, upadana, does not have an exact translation in English; its literal meaning is “fuel,” though it is often translated to mean “attachment.” Similarly, the Sanskrit word for aversion/hatred, devesha, also does not have a literal English translation. Together, these three problems—ignorance, clinging/attachment, and aversion—are known as the Three Poisons, and the recognition of them constitutes the Second Noble Truth.

The Third Noble Truth: It Is Possible to End the Suffering

The Buddha also taught that it is possible not to suffer. This is central to the joyful optimism of Buddhism—the recognition that a cessation of dukkha is possible. This is achieved by relinquishing the delusion and ignorance that fuel the attachment/clinging and the aversion/hatred that make life so unsatisfying. The cessation of that suffering has a name that is quite well known to almost everyone: nirvana.

The Fourth Noble Truth: Here Is the Path to Ending the Suffering

Finally, the Buddha taught a series of practical rules and methods for moving from a condition of ignorance/attachment/aversion (dukkha) to a permanent state of joy/satisfaction (nirvana). Among the methods is the famous Eight-Fold Path, a set of practical recommendations for living, designed to move practitioners along the route to nirvana.

The Principle of Non-Attachment 

Non-attachment, then, is really an antidote to the attachment/clinging problem described in the Second Noble Truth. If attachment/clinging is a condition of finding life unsatisfactory, it stands to reason that non-attachment is a condition conducive to satisfaction with life, a condition of nirvana.

It is important to note, though, that the Buddhist advice is not to detach from the people in your life or from your experiences, but rather to simply recognize the non-attachment that is inherent to begin with. This is a rather key difference between Buddhist and other religious philosophies. While other religions seek to achieve some state of grace through hard work and active repudiation, Buddhism teaches that we are inherently joyful and that it is simply a matter of surrendering and relinquishing our misguided habits and preconceptions so that we can experience the essential Buddahood that is within us all.

When we reject the illusion that we have a “self” that exists separately and independently from other people and phenomena, we suddenly recognize that there is no need to detach, because we have always been interconnected with all things at all times.

Zen teacher John Daido Loori says that non-attachment should be understood as unity with all things:

"[A]ccording to the Buddhist point of view, non-attachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In non-attachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?"

To live in non-attachment means that we recognize there was never anything to attach or cling to in the first place. And for those who can truly recognize this, it is indeed a state of joyfulness.