Accepting Attachments/Household Life

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Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby Zealot » Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:41 pm

I am struggling. I see two paths in front of me: One where I relinquish all my possessions, take up the robe and bowl, and find a master to teach me or a forest to live in. The other is the life Im living now, the household life. Though a few books Ive read talk briefly of this lifestyle, mostly I've come to understand that the edge here is sharper and the path more difficult.

Well, I've certainly ran out of clarity. How does one live the household life? How can I own things yet remain unattached to them? How do I enjoy the company of my family when their enjoyment is intoxication and sloth? Maybe Im being melodramatic. My family likes to sit down and watch TV at the end of the day. There are cigarette smokers, coffee drinkers, and cannabis tokers. We eat throughout the day. The more I think about it, the more household life seems to be an intoxicant: once the work is done, enjoy the spoils. Do I accept these pointless pleasures while trying to maintain mindfulness? It seems to reject them is to reject my family and house.

Confused and curious,
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"My life for Aiur!" - Protoss Zealot
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby PorkChop » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:01 am

Are you the owner of the household?
When you say "my family" are you referring to living in your parents' (or siblings') house?
Or are you talking about a family that you started?

If you don't like the path that you're parents/siblings have laid out in front of you and you really want to practice Dharma as a renunciate (sp?), then as long as you're old enough to make your own decisions I don't see why not.

However, if you have a house that you own and a family that you started (ie wife & kids), I don't know that anybody in good conscience would recommend that you abandon them; unless you have someone like Suddhodana to provide for any & all of their needs.

As far as how folks practice while living the household life?
It's a matter of reserving time & space in order to practice, to develop a clear mind, and to not let the craziness get to you.
I have my study, with my shrine, and I retreat there early in the morning and late at night.
For possessions, remembering impermanence and remembering to not let the things you own, own you really helps.
The stoics have a practice of occasionally visualizing losing the objects & people in our life that we cherish in order to understand their impermanence and appreciate them more. I find this helps.
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby greentara » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:11 am

I've thought along these lines... but the truth is is you had no doubts you'd be long gone! It's also better to look at the family with their many habits and foibles with compassion rather then distaste
Who knows maybe they need you or rather you need them...thats for you to figure out. Leaving the family maybe like pulling out the stem of the flower, which supports the petals.
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby Zealot » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:32 am

:namaste:

Porkchop, I am not the main provider of this household. I could leave this life behind. It would be hurtful, but only emotionally. If I were to keep the household life, likely it would end me in a position as provider. But currently, I could in good conscious leave.

Im a little more concerned with the heedlessness and waste that comes from a household life. Should I not watch television with my family and loved ones? What about eating three meals a day and snacks?
"My life for Aiur!" - Protoss Zealot
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby tomamundsen » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:21 am

Zealot wrote:Im a little more concerned with the heedlessness and waste that comes from a household life. Should I not watch television with my family and loved ones? What about eating three meals a day and snacks?

I don't think anyone would recommend TV over dharma practice. But if you do decide to vege out with the family, you can still practice internally while doing that.
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby Quiet Heart » Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:37 am

:smile:
Zealot:
I do not mean to be unkind, I really don't.
But in my personal opinion you seem to have a very idealised and simplistic view that there are only two ways to go....either the path of total abandonment of the world or a path of total attachment to the "sinful" and evil world.
There is a middle path you know.
The thing you seek is inside you, in your true nature. It is not going to be found outside of your self, your true nature,
You can find it as easily in a crowded street in a busy city as you can find it in a forest Wat in Thailand isolated from the outside world. (By the way, as I live in Bangkok, I can tell you that these days....although you WILL find some pretty isolated Wats in some areas....the ideal of finding an isolated Wat in a peaceful forest and living apart from the world....actually takes a lot of work....because such places are hard to find these days).
If you feel you must leave your family, then do that.
But, as I said, not being unkind; but the answer you are looking for is NOT outside....it is inside you.
That's the place to look for it.
:smile:

P.S. Read my signature that adds itself automatically to the end of this post just below this.
Shame on you Shakyamuni for setting the precedent of leaving home.
Did you think it was not there--
in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
Did you think you had to go elsewhere (simply) to find it?
from - Judyth Collin
The Layman's Lament
From What Book, 1998, p. 52
Edited by Gary Gach
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Where shall I live?

Postby Zealot » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:58 am

Thank you for the reply, everyone, and in particular, Quiet Heart. You are right that what Im looking for is right here, it is right in front of me, but I keep being dragged back into defilement in this household life. My wish to leave it behind is pure, and wind of travel is within me. I need somewhere new so that I can leave behind all these things and find out what baggage Im still carrying. I need a master, a lineage to be a part of, a light to guide me. Because although I have pure intentions, my mind and body are lacking.

As much as I have tried, I cannot accept the household life. Perhaps the Sangha will guide this body to its proper place?
"My life for Aiur!" - Protoss Zealot
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby duckfiasco » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:19 am

Do what you can where you are and don't worry too much. :twothumbsup:
Namu Amida Butsu
Amida gathers over the dry heart and sends living rains; the earth he covers in hands to bear up our steps; in each dark and bright place is written his Name for us to find. Wonderful, wonderful!
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Re: Where shall I live?

Postby Yudron » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:21 am

Zealot wrote: I need a master, a lineage to be a part of, a light to guide me. Because although I have pure intentions, my mind and body are lacking.


That's a really good idea. Take your time, investigate, and find the person you think is the best master in the world for you. It sounds like you need someone to really guide you in a personal way and field your questions. So, you might look at lamas who are really available to their students periodically for one to one guidance.
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby KeithBC » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:52 am

You asked a really important question:
How can I own things yet remain unattached to them?


While I have the greatest respect for those who wear the robes, I have noticed that the monastic life attracts many who do not wish to face this question. Perhaps that is how they need to address the issue at that point in time. That's not for me to judge. But it seems to me that there is a risk that, if the issue ot attachment is avoided in this way, it might not get dealt with. The attachments remain.

The householder's life offers ample opportunites to face one's attachments head-on. Of course, the risk then is that one just goes with the flow. Still, the attachments remain.

For me, the choice is clear. I feel that the householder's life is a calling, a vocation, every bit as strong as that of a monk. Yes, I am full of attachments. This is samsara, after all. But in this life, I can see my attachments. I can practise awareness of them. I can analyse their consequences. I can practise letting go of them.

If I were a monk, I might see some beautiful object and wish I could have it, knowing that I couldn't. Very frustrating. As a householder, I can see the beautiful object, know that I could buy it if I chose to do so, and then freely decide not to, knowing that I don't need to own it. Practising non-attachment seems to me to be a more active process in the householder's life.

Your mileage may vary.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 20, 2012 5:44 am

Go halfway and see how you feel.

Live a simple lifestyle isolated from family. Maybe just have a cot in a small flat somewhere with your books and meditation cushion. Keep working of course, though retire in the evening to study and meditate. Avoid socializing just for the fun of it (talking Dharma over coffee is of course beneficial and rewarding).

If you can tolerate being away from family and potentially all the drama that comes with leaving them at a distance, you'll probably understand whether or not you're ready to dump the household life. Human relationships and our emotional and psychological dependency on them generate a lot of stress, though they're still hard to let go.

The path of renunciation includes abandoning family ultimately. That's easier for some than it is for others.

As Nāgārjuna said,

If your wife is evil and your friend evil,
If the King is evil and your relatives evil,
If your neighbour is evil and the country evil,
(Then) abandon them for a distant (land).


Earthly life is not stable,
Wealth and enjoyment are not stable,
Wife and child are not abiding,
(Therefore) trust in religion and (good) reputation.


When your eyes are fixed in unconsciousness
And you have come to your last breath through constant hiccoughing,
As one led in the dark to a great precipice,
Of what assistance can child and wife be then?
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"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby Jnana » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:16 am

Huseng wrote:Go halfway and see how you feel.

Live a simple lifestyle isolated from family. Maybe just have a cot in a small flat somewhere with your books and meditation cushion. Keep working of course, though retire in the evening to study and meditate. Avoid socializing just for the fun of it (talking Dharma over coffee is of course beneficial and rewarding).

If you can tolerate being away from family and potentially all the drama that comes with leaving them at a distance, you'll probably understand whether or not you're ready to dump the household life. Human relationships and our emotional and psychological dependency on them generate a lot of stress, though they're still hard to let go.


:good:

Take one step at a time.
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby PorkChop » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:53 am

Zealot wrote:Im a little more concerned with the heedlessness and waste that comes from a household life. Should I not watch television with my family and loved ones? What about eating three meals a day and snacks?


What's wrong with 3 meals a day?
Snacking you could probably do without.
For householder rules, it's more about moderation with food.
For monks, it depends on which Vinaya you follow. I don't believe all of them dictate the 1 meal a day (could be wrong). I know for sure that not all of them stop eating by noon. I remember reading it was more about begging alms too often or at inappropriate times.

There's some debate over whether or not eating once a day is healthy for your body.
I know dietitians and nutritionists that would scoff at the idea that it's healthy.
A calorie bomb once a day, especially one of limited protein, probably wouldn't be all that great for your insulin levels.
If you look at the following study, although there was a reduction in bodyfat percentage, there were increases in cholesterol and it may impact cardiovascular health.
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/4/ ... type=HWCIT

As far as tv, I don't zone out in front of the tube.
Sometimes I'll zone out on the net, but it's usually places like here or dharma talks on youtube, not the reddit frontpage or 4chan.
I will watch something specific occasionally, either a movie, a documentary, or a specific show; but I don't watch just to watch.
My kid's 3, all he wants to watch is cartoons, so I'm not really missing much by not sitting with him.
What I will do with him instead is try to play with blocks or play tag, something that's real interaction and not just mindlessly staring at the glowing screen.

I don't really have any solid advice to give one way or another.
You gotta do what's best for you.
Couldn't tell from your post if you've got kids or not.
If you do, I guess if you think so little of your role in their life, then they're probably better off - but you may want to think of the impact you'd be making on their life.
If you don't, then not as much to worry about.
If you think you're just going to forget about your family when you go into a temple, I believe you're mistaken.
My coach ordains for a week about once a year and he can barely concentrate because he's thinking of his family too much.

I didn't really (re)discover Buddhism until I already had a family.
My family is one of the bright spots in my life.
With all due respect to Nagarjuna; one of my heroes, it's obvious he never had a family.
I, my wife, or my kid(s) could be dead tomorrow and I would not regret one minute I spend/spent with them.

I may renounce after retirement, we'll have to see how my life goes. Until then, there are obligations to be met - my family wouldn't do too well without me.
In the meantime, I'm going to try to do retreats like my coach does, I'm going to practice as hard as I can, be the best person I can be, and not waste too much time worrying about it.
If I don't make it to a first bhumi Bodhisattva or even take official Bodhisattva vows; hopefully my aspirations and feeble amount of merit can help me get there next time around.
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby lobster » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:59 am

Take one step at a time.


Is there any possibility for you to go on retreat?
How many hours are you meditating, studying in your room/space? Which groups have you contacted, made arrangements with? Are you able to not smoke, not watch TV, not take intoxicants, eat less? What are you doing to simplify your living?

These are the first steps. :yinyang:
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:06 am

Zealot, no matter where you go your mind goes with you. Your attachment is a quality of your mind. You can be by yourself at the top of a mountain peak, in a cave, or living deep in the forest and still have attachment, yearning, memories, aversion, etc... Peace of mind and equanimity are an inner quality, not an outer quality. Renuncuation helps because you do not have objects of attachment at hand, but if you understand the emptiness of these phenomena, that the qualities you crave for or are repulsed by are just projecions of your mind, well then...

Find yourself a good teacher and stop beating yourself up. Stop being so dramatic all the time, just relax. Cut the idealism and be more pragmatic with what you are capable of RIGHT NOW.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby Jesse » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:42 am

Do I accept these pointless pleasures while trying to maintain mindfulness?


Pleasure isn't pointless, pleasure makes life worth living.. Imo the real menace isn't possession's, it's like the other posters have mentioned, it's the mind, and really meditation is the key to understanding the nature of attachment. You can meditate on your comfy leather couch, or in a cave, or lying in bed, or 10,000 miles from home and you'll come to the same conclusions in the end.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby Seishin » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:46 am

Middle road is best for now. Get rid of things that you know you don't need. De-clutter so to speak. See how you get on. Meditate daily for at least 30mins :smile:


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Re: Where shall I live?

Postby seeker242 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:16 pm

Zealot wrote:Thank you for the reply, everyone, and in particular, Quiet Heart. You are right that what Im looking for is right here, it is right in front of me, but I keep being dragged back into defilement in this household life. My wish to leave it behind is pure, and wind of travel is within me. I need somewhere new so that I can leave behind all these things and find out what baggage Im still carrying. I need a master, a lineage to be a part of, a light to guide me. Because although I have pure intentions, my mind and body are lacking.

As much as I have tried, I cannot accept the household life. Perhaps the Sangha will guide this body to its proper place?

If millions of honest men in worldly life find Pabbajja, the Going Forth, obnoxious; if they condemn the incomprehensible act as wrong, as unnatural, or deplore it as a mental aberration, they are quite right from their own standpoint; no intelligent man will contradict them. They act in accordance with their conception of duty, and are "great, great in their place" if, before all things they care for beloved parents, for wife and children, and strive to fulfill the manifold important duties laid upon them by their life in the world. Also the few who have a bent for the ascetic life and honestly long for it, but feel themselves bound one way or another to their wanted way of life and therefore remain in its bondage — they also are right from their own standpoint. So also are those individuals right who go forth, being no longer bound inwardly. It is not the outward circumstances that bind a man; by himself is man really bound, by himself is he really free.


It is said that it is not things that bind a person, but only yourself that binds you, is it not? Of course, having things in close physical proximity one could argue makes it more difficult to let go of them, but certainly not impossible to a degree. You find you keep being dragged back into defilement in this household life? Who is the one doing the dragging except only yourself?

Self alone is the lord of self. What higher master can there be? By self alone is evil done, by self one is defiled; By self is evil left undone; by self alone one is purified, Pure and impure on self alone depend; No one can make another pure.


Just leaving behind physical things alone does not make you pure. Of course being a monk is good, but it's certainly not impossible to live a pure household life, for the time being at least. Heedlessness only comes with a household life if you let it. There is nothing "heedless" about going food shopping or mowing the lawn. If you need a master, a lineage to be a part of, then go seek one out. Where do you live? Go find a nearby Buddhist temple and go there a lot. Make friends with the monks, attend retreats, etc. Of course being a monk is good but my point is that you don't need to become one first, before you can start being "purified". That can start right now, regardless of where you live. If you don't want to watch TV, then go meditate, read a dharma book, or do walking meditation around the block or something. You don't have to partake in that stuff.

As for what to do right now, I would be going to look for a nearby Buddhist temple or center or something. Someplace where you can connect to a sangha and perhaps a teacher and go on from there. And doing meditation in my room or something when everyone else is busy drinking and watching TV :smile:
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Where shall I live?

Postby alpha » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:27 pm

Zealot wrote:Thank you for the reply, everyone, and in particular, Quiet Heart. You are right that what Im looking for is right here, it is right in front of me, but I keep being dragged back into defilement in this household life. My wish to leave it behind is pure, and wind of travel is within me. I need somewhere new so that I can leave behind all these things and find out what baggage Im still carrying. I need a master, a lineage to be a part of, a light to guide me. Because although I have pure intentions, my mind and body are lacking.

As much as I have tried, I cannot accept the household life. Perhaps the Sangha will guide this body to its proper place?



I am sorry to say ,but you cannot leave anything behind.
Wherever you go there you are.
There is no physical location where you can go and be different.
But if you must go at least be aware of the above facts and in this way you wont build up much expectation.

Anyway ideally one learns how to integrate in their own condition whatever events or situations one has to deal with.
But for this to work you need to have some knowledge of your own state and how whatever appears to you is none other than your own state and empty of any essence whatsoever.
You would typically learn these things from a teacher who can introduce you to your nature.
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Re: Accepting Attachments/Household Life

Postby greentara » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:42 pm

Perhaps you need to be stingy with the books you read, stingy with concepts, stingy with likes and dislikes. There is a 'pattern, the most obvious, perfect, and beautiful, in which a man is born, grew to manhood, married, produced children, toiled for his bread, and died;' but there are others, intricate and wonderful, in which happiness did enter and in which success was not attempted; and in them might be discovered a divine grace.
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