The nature of attachment

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The nature of attachment

Postby Luke » Sat Jun 06, 2009 7:11 pm

I created this thread to discuss the important Buddhist concept of attachment.

Specifically, I wanted to respond to Drolma.
Drolma wrote:
Luke wrote:I guess that all Buddhists who are not Buddhas are technically attached to spritual practice and positive emotions. Only Buddhas attain the non-meditation stage of Mahamudra and don't have to do formal meditation anymore and aren't attached to any concept whatsoever and see every concept and appearance as being empty. But the rest of us can't just skip to such a lofty viewpoint.


Attachment does not manifest all of the time, it is a mental affliction, based on ignorance. Where there is attachment - there is aversion. Aversion is what happens when attachment does not get what it wants.
Of course there is still the seed of attachment in the mind, or potential for attachment in the mind of ordinary dharma practitioners . But the teachings offer various antidotes for attachment, teachings on how to work with it when it arises in the mind, so practicing without attachment is not a lofty idea, it is just a practice, nothing more nothing less.
When we practice and make use of the tools and antidotes that work best for us, we don’t assume that because we are not following attachment blindly, that we are now liberated, but we also don’t blindly believe everything we think like we used to, either.
We are creating the causes for liberation. Liberation does not happen out of the blue for no rhyme or reason without causes and conditions, gradually we get to that point, but before we do - slowly we realize, you hear teachings, you contemplate, you meditate on them and you are cutting through the afflictions.

If there is attachment going on, there will be aversion. Aversion is what happens when attachment does not get what it wants. Where there is attachment there is intolerance, there is hatred, there is my way or the highway.
Nothing wrong with thinking that the teachings that you embrace are the best teachings in the world, of course they are- for you! - That is not attachment. Thinking that the teachings that you follow are best for everyone, and that all other schools of buddhism are wrong, stupid and useless, is.


(The red higlighting above was mine.)

Okay, my understanding is that there are both gross and subtle levels of attachment, and that just because someone doesn't display the more obviously negative types of gross attachment, it doesn't mean that they don't possess the more subtle types of attachment (what you might call "seeds of attachment" above).

At some level, we unenlightened beings experience attachment in one of our skandhas. We naturally feel drawn toward pleasant things and avoid unpleasant things. So, there is this at least this subconscious attachment in ordinary practitioners.

Sorry, my Buddhist terminology might not be exactly right, but I remember these types of things from books I've read. Our main difference seems to be one of terminology: you use "attachment" for only the obvious types of attachment, whereas I have the term include the subconscious grasping in the skandhas as well.

What I meant by "lofty view" is the view of a Buddha who has eliminated even the most subtle types of attachment and ignorance down through all his/her skandhas (levels of mind).

And which school of Tibetan Buddhism do you practice, Drolma? (If it's not to personal.)
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Re: The nature of attachment

Postby Drolma » Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:29 pm

Luke wrote:
Okay, my understanding is that there are both gross and subtle levels of attachment, and that just because someone doesn't display the more obviously negative types of gross attachment, it doesn't mean that they don't possess the more subtle types of attachment (what you might call "seeds of attachment" above).

At some level, we unenlightened beings experience attachment in one of our skandhas. We naturally feel drawn toward pleasant things and avoid unpleasant things. So, there is this at least this subconscious attachment in ordinary practitioners.

Sorry, my Buddhist terminology might not be exactly right, but I remember these types of things from books I've read. Our main difference seems to be one of terminology: you use "attachment" for only the obvious types of attachment, whereas I have the term include the subconscious grasping in the skandhas as well.

What I meant by "lofty view" is the view of a Buddha who has eliminated even the most subtle types of attachment and ignorance down through all his/her skandhas (levels of mind).

And which school of Tibetan Buddhism do you practice, Drolma? (If it's not to personal.)



I don't use the word attachment for only the obvious types of attachment, as I said, of course there is still the seed of attachment in the mind, or potential for attachment in the mind of ordinary dharma practitioners. Attachment is one of the three poisons and it is not completely uprooted until the path of seeing.

I have received teachings in different traditions, now my main practice is Gelug -but please don't blame them for my poor understanding and ignorance, it's all mine! :tongue:
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Re: The nature of attachment

Postby Drolma » Sat Jun 06, 2009 10:41 pm

Thoughts on Non-attachment:


"In the Buddhist sense, non-attachment means having a balanced attitude, free from clinging. When we are free from attachment, we won't have unrealistic expectations of others, nor will we cling to them out of fear of being miserable when they aren't there. Non-attachment is a calm, realistic, open, and accepting attitude. It isn't hostile, paranoid, or unsociable. When we aren't attached, our relationships with others are harmonious, and in fact, our affection for them increases."
Buddhism for Beginners - by Venerable Thubten Chodron.
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Re: The nature of attachment

Postby Luke » Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:50 pm

Drolma wrote:I don't use the word attachment for only the obvious types of attachment, as I said, of course there is still the seed of attachment in the mind, or potential for attachment in the mind of ordinary dharma practitioners. Attachment is one of the three poisons and it is not completely uprooted until the path of seeing.


Okay. I wasn't sure if Buddhism used two different words which I couldn't remember to distinguish between obvious and subtle types of attachment.

Anyway, I found what I was looking for here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klesha
Three Poisons

In Mahayana Buddhism, the mūla kleśa (English: root poisons) of the Twelve Nidānas are:

1. ignorance (Sanskrit: Avidyā; Tibetan: ma rig pa)
2. attachment (Sanskrit: Upādāna; Tibetan: len pa)
3. craving (Sanskrit: Tṛṣṇā; Tibetan: sred pa)

In other enumerations of the mula kleśa, hatred or anger (Sanskrit: dveṣa; Tib.: ཞེ་སྡང་ zhe sdang; 瞋 Cn: chēn; Jp: jin; Vi: sân) is substituted for ignorance.

These three mula kleśa are rendered into English as the 'Three Poisons' and are symbolized by the Gankyil.

These three klesas specifically refer to the subtle movement of mind (Sanskrit: citta) when it initially encounters a mental object (In Buddhist conceptions of the mind, 'mental object' refers to any object which the mind perceives, be it a thought, emotion or object perceived by the physical senses.). If the mind initially reacts by moving towards the mental object, seeking it out, or attaching to it, the experience and results will be tinged by the upādāna klesha. Unpleasant objects or experiences are often met by aversion, or the mind moving away from the object, which is the root for hatred and anger to arise in relation to the object.


Although I'm not sure if "aversion" is a klesha as well. Perhaps I'll find something more clear somewhere else.

Drolma wrote: I have received teachings in different traditions, now my main practice is Gelug -but please don't blame them for my poor understanding and ignorance, it's all mine! :tongue:

Haha. Your modesty is very cute. However, your understanding usually seems very good and your heart certainly seems like it's in the right place. :heart:

I frequently get Buddhist terms and philosophy mixed up. I'm slowly trying to educate myself about these things.
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