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Thread: Non Attachment VS Apathy

  1. #1

    Non Attachment VS Apathy

    K here goes... I have been really struggling finding a balance on non attachment and apathy. I am struggling on how to really tell the two apart. I try to not attach to things by not placing to much emphasis on anything, but I am afraid that with that comes an air of apathy, the dreaded I don't care mode of thinking, I guess I am asking if others are battling this issue and if so what has helped you to push through it (not that it ends I guess). I would appreciate any input you all may have.

    Gassho,
    Damian

    m( )m - this is supposed to be me bowing to all of you

  2. #2
    Yes, I can relate. I'm not sure I can offer you advice though as I too have yet to find my ballance. Personally I like the Christian prayer:

    "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
    The courage to change the things I can...
    And the Wisdom to know the difference…"


    I hope this helps,
    Gassho,
    -K

    PS- Palms up... w( )w :lol:

  3. #3
    I went to a teacher with a similar concern. She put it to me this way: There is non-attachment, and there is the fact that everything we do does have an effect in the world. Both of these things are equally true.

    This really clicked for me.

    One of the aspects of this tradition that has really opened my eyes has been its perfect acceptance of contradiction.

  4. #4
    Hi Damien and Kelly,

    I understand the feeling. My experience has been to use my feelings to distinguish between the 2. Apathy to me feels negative and heavy and it suggests to me that I'm still attached but in a negative way. I guess another way to say it is that for me, apathy = stealth attachments that have gone under the radar.

    Being non-attached feels more neutral or having a quality of equanimity to it. It is not heavy or light, not negative or positive, it just is as it is where it is.

  5. #5
    I suppose this is the reason why we have such an emphasis on the virtues of wisdom and compassion in Mahayana Buddhism. Wisdom without compassion might lead to apathy, but compassion and apathy, to my thinking, cannot coexist in one's mind.
    I'm not saying this very well . . .

    My best,
    Bill

  6. #6
    What helps Damian? Sitting

    Don't let the idea of non attachment prevent you from enjoying things, just remember that they are impermanent. Helping others is also a good way to get out of that.

    Gassho Will


  7. #7
    Stephanie
    Guest
    A round for Shane, for putting it so well.

    I experience apathy or something like it sometimes. It feels like something "turns off" inside. It's a sick, sick feeling. Very different from how it feels when I'm experiencing equanimity borne of zazen practice, which is just as fearless as apathy, but warm, compassionate, caring. There's a bit of a tender sadness that comes along with it for me--you watch people suffering and are moved; you feel the loneliness of your own position relative to them. But yet you don't freak out when you see pain and darkness and loss; you know that this is the way of things, and in your own tender, caring way, you accept it. I think the Japanese have a term for this--mono no aware.

  8. #8
    Shane:
    I understand the feeling. My experience has been to use my feelings to distinguish between the 2. Apathy to me feels negative and heavy and it suggests to me that I'm still attached but in a negative way. I guess another way to say it is that for me, apathy = stealth attachments that have gone under the radar.

    Being non-attached feels more neutral or having a quality of equanimity to it. It is not heavy or light, not negative or positive, it just is as it is where it is.
    Very nice, and I concur. Apathy has the quality of being turned off to the world, shutting it out perhaps. Awareness of impermanence, and balancing your desire seems to bring a refreshing clarity, an elevated conciousness— and it is one with equanimity in it.

    Great post.

    Gassho,
    Chris

  9. #9
    Hey Guys,

    Many good perspectives presented by folks here. Let me add this:

    I use some of those "simultaneous perspectives" to deal with "non-attachment" vs. "apathy". I combine emotional equanimity and "just as it is" total acceptance on the one hand, with passionately held emotions, experiences and desires on the other. Sounds like a recipe for conflict perhaps, but it is not at all. Let me give you a few of examples ...

    -I can often savor one moment in life passionately, but without clinging to that moment or demanding that it last. One good example was when my mother was dying: I was able to be with her fully just in the moments she had left, yet fully embrace that such moments would not and need not last much longer. In that way, I was fully 'in the moment' I feel, but did not cling to the moment.

    -I often can passionately feel that there are many things about this world that need fixing (war, famine, abuse, for example, that we discussed yesterday), and passionately hope and work for their remedy ... yet have equanimity and total acceptance, even resignation, regarding their existence.

    - I can seek to take an experience or aspect of life as "perfectly just what it is", without demanding that it be "perfect", and in that way "perfectly" enjoy or appreciate it. The best example is that I used to be much more judgmental of people of events that did not meet my expectations of objective perfection, but now have a greater ability I feel to take even "imperfect" people and things as "perfectly what they are". I used to have little patience for, for example, rainfalls that "ruined" my hopes for a "perfect" picnic. Now, the sunshine is just the sunshine, the rain just the rain, and a wet picnic perfectly wet!

    Some folks believe that Buddhism is about quelling and calming the passions. And it is. But, I believe, that need only be done on one "level", while simultaneously on another "level" (not two) we can live as vibrant human beings with passions. This allows non-attachment, but no need for apathy I think.

    Oh yes, and as Kelly said ...

    "Buddha grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
    The courage to change the things I can...
    And the Wisdom to know the difference…"


    I am very tired today. I hope that is a little clear. Oh well, it is just perfectly imperfectly what it is!

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kent's Avatar
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    non attachment vs apathy

    Thank you Jundo that was very clear and perfectly helpful! Kent

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    A round for Shane, for putting it so well.

    I experience apathy or something like it sometimes. It feels like something "turns off" inside. It's a sick, sick feeling. Very different from how it feels when I'm experiencing equanimity borne of zazen practice, which is just as fearless as apathy, but warm, compassionate, caring. There's a bit of a tender sadness that comes along with it for me--you watch people suffering and are moved; you feel the loneliness of your own position relative to them. But yet you don't freak out when you see pain and darkness and loss; you know that this is the way of things, and in your own tender, caring way, you accept it. I think the Japanese have a term for this--mono no aware.

    This rings true for me. Thanks for expressing it so well. I often find myself "thinking" compassion but not really feeling it. Perhaps it is the feeling that keeps us from apathy.

    Gassho,

    Linda

  12. #12
    "Can of tuna fish, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
    The courage to change the things I can...
    And the Wisdom to know the difference…"

    Its all the same I suppose. :wink:

    G,
    -K

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