Sunday, March 20, 2011

Non-Attachment

Today’s thoughts are about non-attachment (in correlation to my unshakeable belief that happiness is one of human being’s ultimate goals).

There is much about the philosophy of “non-attachment” that lends itself to an easier, happier life. Let’s start with the simple relief from worry about how much stuff you’ve got at any given time, hauling it around with you, protecting it, preserving it, etc.

I recently read a passage someone wrote about all the things they’d lost recently in a tragic event. The words were something to the effect of: “… all the hard work over the years to collect these things and now they’re all gone. It’s like I worked all my life for nothing.”

Hearing this made me think about the way one’s life would be easier (mentally) if one embraced non-attachment. Then, if you lost your “stuff”, it wouldn’t seem like the end of the world to you.

But is it possible? I mean, for us raised in the Western hemisphere, in a capitalist society, with possessions being a focal part of our entire lives?

I’m in the process of downsizing… again. Not that I have that many possessions, but sometimes when you go from one location to another (particularly if the second one is miniscule), you’ve got to think about downsizing.

I realized that most of what I’m “holding onto” isn’t about “memories” or anything like that… it’s about value. I’ve collected things over the years that I’m having a hard time getting rid of because they are worth more than what can currently get for them.

So it’s only about money. Money. Phft! Yeah, money’s important, but I don’t need to stress and keep these things around me merely because someday I can go through a bunch of effort to sell them for a decent price and make what…? Just how much is piece of mind worth? Do I own anything that’s worth THAT much? No, I don’t think so. I need to let it go… just let it all go. *****breathe*****

But it’s not just about “stuff” (possessions). “Non-attachment” is also about people. That part can be much trickier to think about and I’m not actually going to talk about that today.

Does “non-attachment” make a person distant or seem non-caring? If you detach yourself from pain are you also detaching yourself from pleasure?

Embracing the philosophy of non-attachment makes sense when you consider we live in an impermanent world. Is there anything in this world that is permanent? Is non-attachment about enjoying what we have in the moment? Is it okay to grieve for our loss when something that made us happy is gone?

Buddhists believe (I think) that attachment is the root of suffering.

I think one of the things I’d like to meditate on is to question my motives. What is my motivation of any and all the things I do?

I can’t criticize anyone about anything… I see me in everyone else in the world. I am no better and no worse than others. I’m not even different. I am reminded daily that I’m a lot more ignorant than a lot of people who cross my path, but I cut myself some slack and just say that I’m still learning and hope to improve on a daily basis.

When you think about it, we can become attached, not only to material things and people, but also to ideas. I will continue to work toward not being fixed in my ideas, to really listen to others rather than be mentally composing my next sentence as the other person is speaking, and to try to keep an open mind at all times, seeing as many sides of the issue as possible… without judgment or prejudice.

Next subject for musing: right and wrong.

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