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Thread: Attachment

  1. #1


    Hi Everyone;

    I hope is well with you. I have been told that i analyze too much and too much and too much. But I have been pondering a few things with regard to attachment, and I can go a little crazy. So I don't want to be attached..but yet, I am attached to so much in my children, home, food, etc....but relating it to my practice and Buddhism in general....don't we choose to be attached to a path of Buddhism in which we feel most comfortable? Those of us who practice Zen, zazen, all things associated with it, aren't we attaching ourselves to this particular set of beliefs in order to detach and someday maybe reach enlightenment all along the way helping others? I was thinking last night that if I were not attached to anything, and I mean, anything, would I just be a some big void blob? That surely isn't enlightenment, is it? So I am attached and yet I am trying not to be attached. Then what? And all the while I am maybe attached to some line of Buddhism that says this is what we do toward enlightenment or helping others. Everything is attachment, attached to a certain set of belief systems whether, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic....etc. You get my point....If I choose not to attach myself to ANY set of belief structures, whatever they are (even the many ways to approach Buddhism), what does that mean really? I am a very black and white person in a world of gray. This is part of the problem, I know. Just food for thought....Feedback welcomed. Gassho, Saij

  2. #2
    Hi Saij

    It is said that "the ultimate path is without difficulty - just avoid picking and choosing."

    So, how do we do this in everyday life and even, as you say, deciding which spiritual path to follow? The obvious answer is we can and can't. Clearly we get to choose what to wear, what to eat, who we marry, what religious path to follow but the results of that choice are often outside of our hands. That is where we shouldn't pick and choose as that leads to aversion and attachment.

    I would say that choosing doesn't necessarily mean attaching and not having any opinion definitely isn't non-attachment but a refusal to engage. In life we have to engage but we can choose to do so wisely or not so wisely. Before buying a car we would be mad not to research prices and performance a little, likewise a school for our children, new town to live in etc.

    Doubtless we start off with some attachment to our chosen spiritual path and other things in our life but in my experience the more you sit, the more these things fall away. Thinking more about it definitely doesn't lessen attachment but can often lead to confusion.

    I am a very black and white person in a world of gray.
    I think you have diagnosed yourself. Black and white both have a tendency to fall away in Zazen, though.

    In all seriousness, this is a very common question and one I have tied mysel up in knots with too. Zen health warning - Buddhist philosophy can do your head in if you think about it too much!


  3. #3

    I see "attachment", in the sense of what I seek to avoid, as being different from being "attached" to certain things in the sense of being associated with those things. As a business owner, I have a lot invested in my business and shoulder a lot of decision making responsibility. I love my work. You could say I'm "attached" to my business in more ways than one. But this is my second business. I closed my old business and quit doing that work when my arthritis made it too difficult for me. And I had put a lot into that business, as well. It was a painful decision for me, but I needed to move on and do something that would allow me to work with my limitations and be successful, not hold onto an idea of, "But I've put so much into this and it's my business and I don't want to let it go!" I could not allow myself to be THAT kind of "attached".

    Zen is what feels natural to me, so I choose zen. It's like just moving a few feet over and continuing to run in the direction I was already running, rather than trying to radically change course. If someone told me tomorrow that "zen" now refers to a bunch of things that do not fit me so well and that what I practice is now called ... I don't, make something up... "rainbow breathing", then I would say I practice rainbow breathing. What I do would not change, only what I call it, because I'm not strongly attached to the word. What I do might change if I find something that fits even better for me, or something to add to my practice that enhances it more. I'm not strongly attached to a concept of "THIS is what I do, nothing else".

    The question for me is, "Is this something I associate myself with, or something I define myself with?" My associations can change as needed. They can be fluid. Things I make a part of my identity, though, will be more difficult for me to change. This is something I've been working on because I spent years deciding "who I am" before I realized that concept is a problem for me. When I decide "This is who I am" (rather than "this is something I believe at this time" or "this is the work I do at this time") it means I've also decided other things are NOT part of who I am. I become attached to those ideas and limit myself in order to maintain that image. That's the attachment I seek to avoid.


  4. #4
    Certain attachments are healthy and normal. If you weren't attached to your children or your life, I think you would be a robot. But I think this type of attachment is a desire for things to be different from what they are. Not a desire as in you see something you want to change and change it but a desire that you obsess over and which paralyzes you from living your life.

    For instance, let's say you want to lose weight, quit smoking, etc. YOu can become atttached to that idea and feel horrible about yourself. Or you can note where you are and start taking realistics steps to change.

    Positive change and attachment in a certain sense are always good things... but attaching to things we have no control over, or grasping at things that will never be the way we want.. those are the the types of negative attachments I think.

    But what the hell do I know? I'm attached to my own opinions (kidding -- but sometimes I am :P )


    Last edited by Risho; 07-27-2013 at 10:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Progress but not perfection works for me.

    Gassho, John

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk 4 Beta

  6. #6
    Hi Saij,

    I usually tell people that our Way is attachment without attachment, choosing without choosing ... as if out of one eye we live one way, from the other eye are beyond all need to attach or choose. Two eyes not even one, all a Buddha Eye.

    I also tell folks not to over-think things, but to come to live and feel this in the bones. Thus we sit Shikantaza, Sitting Buddha in a Buddha Eye.

    First, on attachment, I recently wrote someone else ...

    Our way is to be "non-attached", not "detached" and "unattached". That means that one can emotionally savor, to the marrow, what is happening in life right now ... and one can commit to that and pour oneself into that ... but just do not cling to that, be willing to let it go. Appreciate this life while it is here (for our self for for those selfs we love) ... and when it is over, release (feeling grief when grief at loss of those we love is called for). Feel all emotions, yet simultaneously see through them as mental theatre, do not be imprisoned or made a puppet, seek to keep moderation and balance (although ... even then, moderation may not always be best when it comes to love).

    I think of this quite frequently as our son gets bigger. He is getting older, a time of bitter-sweet happiness. I do not want to be emotionally detached from that, but neither do I want to cling to this moment, try to keep him from growing up, and be unwilling to see it all pass.

    Early Buddhism did emphasize emotional detachment more than the later Mahayana. As I said, now we tend not to see our thoughts and emotions (i.e., the "self") so much as the "enemy" as bits of theatre that have to be seen through, handled wisely, not allowed to tie us up. That is a big difference. Same with ordinary life, which is no longer seen as something to "escape", but as something to also be seen through, handled wisely, not allowed to tie us up.
    One can be attached to Zazen or Buddhism, the people we love and such. Just cling lightly also, even as you fully savor each. Also-also (a double also ) know the Buddha's View free of all views and attachments, All At Once, As One. ... squeezing hard, squeezing lightly and also-also fully open handed AT ONCE! Attached and present, yet not attached in the least. A kind of healthy schizophrenia ... not a "split" personality, but a Whole!

    Likewise, learn to "Choose Without Choosing", choosing with one eye, free of all choice with the other eye, all Buddha Eye. One much choose to live. Otherwise we would not choose to get out of bed in the morning. We must have likes and dislikes, aversions and attractions. I sometimes choose to post the following ...

    In our Zen Practice, we drop judgments and preferences. We also learn how to drop without dropping. We do both at once. In "Just Sitting" Zazen, we drop all judgments and learn to live from such perspective, but people often misunderstand what this really means. Of course, if we are to live as human beings, we must have preferences and make choices. Otherwise, we can't function. We could not choose to stand up or sit down, wait for the green light to "go" instead of running red lights, we could not even choose to get out of bed in the morning.

    So, how to do both at once? Ah, this is one of the great discoveries of Zen Buddhism, namely, that folks can live on a couple or more "channels" (for want of a better term) at once, seemingly conflicting viewpoints without conflict.


    Well, for example, we drop all "likes" and "dislikes" on one channel, even as we must have "likes" and "dislikes" on another. The result is
    like choosing what you like, and avoiding what you dislike, but fully accepting either one ... all at the same time. For example, you go into
    life's ice cream store and ask for vanilla. But all they have is strawberry, which you hate. You embrace the fact that life sometimes
    gives strawberry. When vanilla, eat vanilla, when strawberry ... savor the strawberry.

    Do you see a bit how that works? Most folks think that you must only live on one channel or the other.

    HOWEVER, during Zazen itself, we practice dropping all preferences PERIOD. In life, we can live having both preferences and no preferences, but in Shikantaza, we just practice having no preferences. This is very important.
    Sit and learn these two eyes that are one eye, a Buddha's Eye, like two side of a no sided coin.

    We move forward in this Practice, becoming ever more Buddha-Like ... all while also piercing that we are already Buddha all along, Buddha in each step and no where to go or in need of going. It is much like a journey toward the top of a mountain and back down, where the whole mountain and each step (and the climber too) are all Buddha climbing Buddha all along. Buddha Buddhaing Buddha.

    Learn to Live So ... and not over-think it! (one of the hindrances to living so!)

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I also wrote this week to the fellow who wants to lose weight ...

    A ZEN DIET: No thought of gain or loss (even as we may cut or add the calories to get healthy) ... nothing to achieve, even as we stick with it. Nothing to measure, even as we check the scale.
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-28-2013 at 12:33 AM.

  7. #7
    Strong desire equals strong attachment.
    it seems that the struggle with attachment is never ending but letting it go for an instant and everything is revealed as it is. Just don't know what's next because the thought of it is too much.

  8. #8
    Grateful for the lesson teacher.

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  9. #9
    Hello Everyone:

    Thank you so much for all that you have said. I think I have a better understanding of what you are saying, Jundo. But not

    "Attached and present, yet not attached in the least. A kind of healthy schizophrenia ... not a "split" personality, but a Whole!"

    I can understand having attachment to the things that make us function in this life, but not attaching myself to anything. Attaching myself to anything would keep me stagnant and be purposeless. Not aware of the true inner self....the selfless self. Climbing the mountain but not really touching the mountain. Having Buddha but not attaching myself to the Buddha...just becoming but not going anywhere in particular. Sitting and going nowhere, just being...clears the mind of clutter and better allows us to be nothingness. The nothingness that we feel is not necessarily attachment, but the nonattachment to self and the ability to help people comes with the ability to sit and know that you know nothing. Egoless with space and the freedom to know that you don't have to attach yourself to anything is freedom...freedom to know that we don't get it. This is where the growth comes. Choosing things in life makes us human...not attaching ourselves to the outcome, I think, is maturity....but not superiority. This teaching has been priceless....deep bows.....saij in the moment.

  10. #10
    Hi Saij,

    I would say to avoid too much analysis, and simply pierce this on the cushion. Then, rising from the cushion, pierce and practice such in life.

    To much philosophizing about and categorizing "attachment" and "freedom" is binding.

    Gassho, J

  11. #11
    Hello Jundo,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    I usually tell people that our Way is attachment without attachment, choosing without choosing ... as if out of one eye we live one way, from the other eye are beyond all need to attach or choose. Two eyes not even one, all a Buddha Eye.

    I also tell folks not to over-think things, but to come to live and feel this in the bones. Thus we sit Shikantaza, Sitting Buddha in a Buddha Eye.

    First, on attachment, I recently wrote someone else ...
    (Did not want to quote everything for simplicity, but the following refers to the entire post in this thread)

    This is probably one of the most important teachings you offer here at Treeleaf (IMHO) and I am thankful you communicate it in such a clear way.
    Maybe you should consider making this "Sticky" in the forum...


    no thing needs to be added

  12. #12
    Thank you all for this post, esspecially Jundo, as it is something I have contemplated sense beginning my journey into zen buddhism



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