Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Is love attachment?

Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal DhammaWe(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
edited September 2010 in Buddhism for Beginners
How do Buddhists deal with love for family, friends and the goal of non-attachment?

Comments

  • edited September 2010
    Skillfully ;)

    Love is not an attachment. Love is pure.

    There is a clinging that we often call love, but it's really just a delusion. Love doesn't seek anything for oneself, love just loves.

    What we usually mean when we say 'I love this or that' is that we like what this or that does for us, how this or that makes us feel etc. That kind of love is an attachment.
  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited September 2010
    Attachment is an ambiguous term. It's important to get clear on what kind of attachment Buddhist practice brings to an end. The essay "Mind Like Fire Unbound" is useful for this.
    To understand further what is meant by the unbinding of the mind, it is also important to know that the word upādāna — the sustenance for the fire — also means clinging, and that according to the Buddha the mind has four forms of clinging that keep it in bondage: clinging to sensuality, to views, to precepts & practices, and to doctrines of the self. In each case, the clinging is the passion & desire the mind feels for these things. To overcome this clinging, then, the mind must see not only the drawbacks of these four objects of clinging, but, more importantly, the drawbacks of the act of passion & desire itself.
    There is more detail in Ch. 3.
  • ChrysalidChrysalid Veteran
    edited September 2010
    fivebells;129551 said:
    Attachment is an ambiguous term.
    I think it's love that is the more ambiguous of the terms in the OP.
  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    edited September 2010
    HHDL has some interesting thoughts (which of course, in themselves don't exist, but that's another story, that in itself, doesn't exist...) on this subject. When I read what he'd written, my confusion about this went away. Now, do you think I can find the article? I know it's here somewhere...
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited September 2010
    When we love someone we wish them free of suffering. Attachment is bound up in suffering. It is a wrong view of reality that causes the suffering. So to our loved ones we wish that they be happy and free of wrong views. We wish the same to ourselves, first.
  • edited September 2010
    Nope. Love is love. Attachment to love is attachment to love.
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless I say "pop" and "you guys" but live in the American SW Veteran
    edited September 2010
    Invincible_summer;129544 said:
    How do Buddhists deal with love for family, friends and the goal of non-attachment?
    personally, i try to remind myself of impermanence. i love my mother, but she will not be here forever. i will of course be sad when she dies, but because i know she will someday die, i will try and be better to her as a result. same could be said for my significant other. i know that love is ultimately an attachment, but to view it as such and to accept impermanence makes me treat those i love with respect. in the past, i feel that i did cling in relationships because i refused to accept that they could end. this attitude is ultimately a self-fulfilling prophesy.
  • edited September 2010
    You know what? You could be profoundly enlightened, and when someone you love passes, or is hurt, you will hurt too.

    Buddha's disciples were certainly not indifferent at his passing.
  • ThaoThao Veteran
    edited September 2010
    these posts are all so good. i actually thought that i would be reading posts that said that we should not have family and friends that we love, and that you would call this attachment, as i have heard in the past. thank you for these posts.
  • edited September 2010
    Mountains;129561 said:
    HHDL has some interesting thoughts (which of course, in themselves don't exist, but that's another story, that in itself, doesn't exist...) on this subject. When I read what he'd written, my confusion about this went away. Now, do you think I can find the article? I know it's here somewhere...
    Waiting...


    :D
  • edited September 2010
    I think the whole attachment thing is a bit tricky, because even striving to not be attached becomes an attachment.

    The thing is, that as long as we have a body, we will have some attachments, and we will have some suffering. There is just no getting around it.
    I think that we can eliminate some suffering, but mostly we learn what the source of suffering is, and are thus better equipped to deal with it, and cope better.

    I'm also not entirely sure completely eliminating suffering would even be a good thing while we are here. Suffering teaches much more than happiness. Almost all meaningful personal growth comes from overcoming adversity, and getting through difficult times and situations. Suffering motivates us to be more compassionate to each other.

    Last year I lost my cat Norman. I told his story in another thread but in breif, Norman came to us with a few problems...he had something called "Sotos Syndrome" which meant he had an oversized head, vision problems, slight mental retardation, seizures, and later in life scoliosis and heart disease.
    Norman had to take phenobarb daily all the time we had him which was 10 years.
    He had beyond question the sweetest disposition of any cat I've ever seen, and I've owned alot of cats. He was kind, affectionate, gentle, and loyal. All the vets that had to work with him over the years fell in love with him because he never resisted any proceedure, but would patiently let them do whatever they needed to do.
    Our other cats all knew Norman had problems, and they also loved him. They would wash him, step aside to let him eat first if he was not feeling well, and just obviously treat him with an extra degree of gentleness.
    Once norman developed heart disease he was on a number of meds that allowed him to live a very normal life for most of his last two years, and when he did have bad days, he was just a trooper about it.
    I honestly loved him as deeply as I would if he were my son.
    He loved to sit by my Butsudan (Buddhist alter) and especially when he got sick he would spend most of his time there. He would also push his forehead into my lips when I recited the nembutsu, and purr.
    When he died, I was crushed. I still, almost a full year later full out sob sometimes.
    And I wouldn't trade one second of my time with him for anything.
    If that level of love is attachment....I don't want de-tachment.
    Norman, and my love for him made my life better. Within his imperfections could be found absolute perfection. I am a better person for having loved him, and my sorrow at his passing bears witness to this.

    The beautiful prologue to this...several times since his passing I have had dreams...the most vivid dreams of my life. In these dreams there is no story line...none of the odd surreal events that usually happen in dreams. In these Dreams Norman comes back to see me. I know he has passed on, but he is back. I can smell his fur, feel the vibration of his body with his purr, smell his breath, hear his sheep-like bleat of a meow. It is as real as my fingers on the keys as I type this. and within the dream I know I am getting the most precious of opportunities...to re-unite with a lost loved one.

    Maybe it is just a dream. I don't actually think so...I think the suchness that was Norman manifests in the only way it can now with that specific form, and it is the magnet of our love that makes it happen. I think it is real.
    I don't much care if science or rationalism agrees, because experientially for me it IS real.
    btw, it is Norman in my avatar sharing time with a Buddha.
    Here is another shot of him...I made him a shirt because he sometimes over groomed until he was raw...another quirk he had.
    image

    and here is one of the last pictures of him, embraced by yours truly:
    image


    So again...if enlightenment meant I could not have loved Norman.....no thanks.
    I think the dharma lets us love more deeply, no longer fearing the loss, but understanding it, and embracing the love all that much more deeply.
  • edited September 2010
    How does one account for the suffering caused by the rejection of a romantic interest?

    I have been alone for a long time. I recently met someone and everything about the situation seemed right. we hit it off when we met and talked for a good while. we met up a week later and talked for another two hours. since that time she appears to be ignoring me.

    I know that the suffering must be of my own doing. Why does it hurt so much? And what can be done to avoid such suffering? Can someone open up their heart to a love interest and then not be hurt when he/she is rejected? Is the solution to not open up to people? I would bet that it is not.

    I suppose I don't know how to open up to someone without becoming emotionally invested in their reaction.
  • edited September 2010
    Shutoku,

    When the Buddha was informed of the death of 2 senior students he remarked that it was as if the sun and the moon had been lost. Clearly there is nothing in Buddhism that encourages a callous, unfeeling nature. Loss is loss and it's painful.

    This is not attachment as I understand it.

    It's not a goal to not feel pain at the passing of a loved one. A psychopath might have such a goal, but nobody else would. When one we are deeply interconnected with leaves our realm we are left 'disconnected'. That takes adjustment and will certainly be accompanied by a lot of emotion.

    Dispassion and lack of attachment do not mean lack of love, compassion or caring. It doesn't make us unfeeling robots.

    I am just going to stop typing now. I understand your pain with Norman passing and how special he was. I won't share my own pain and story, but please understand I can relate.
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited September 2010
    Invincible_summer;129544 said:
    How do Buddhists deal with love for family, friends and the goal of non-attachment?

    True love is unconditional. Unfortunately love is mostly conditional eg. "One loves only if the other makes one feel good." Conditional love can easily turn to hate. Conditional love is attachment.

    Loss of a loved one can cause emotional pain because that is human nature but suffering only arise if one becomes attached to the good feeling that that person elicited.
    17. Then, when the Blessed One had passed away, some bhikkhus, not yet freed from passion, lifted up their arms and wept; and some, flinging themselves on the ground, rolled from side to side and wept, lamenting: "Too soon has the Blessed One come to his Parinibbana! Too soon has the Happy One come to his Parinibbana! Too soon has the Eye of the World vanished from sight!"

    But the bhikkhus who were freed from passion, mindful and clearly comprehending, reflected in this way: "Impermanent are all compounded things. How could this be otherwise?"

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html
  • edited September 2010
    username_5;129618 said:
    Shutoku,

    When the Buddha was informed of the death of 2 senior students he remarked that it was as if the sun and the moon had been lost. Clearly there is nothing in Buddhism that encourages a callous, unfeeling nature. Loss is loss and it's painful.

    This is not attachment as I understand it.

    It's not a goal to not feel pain at the passing of a loved one. A psychopath might have such a goal, but nobody else would. When one we are deeply interconnected with leaves our realm we are left 'disconnected'. That takes adjustment and will certainly be accompanied by a lot of emotion.

    Dispassion and lack of attachment do not mean lack of love, compassion or caring. It doesn't make us unfeeling robots.

    I am just going to stop typing now. I understand your pain with Norman passing and how special he was. I won't share my own pain and story, but please understand I can relate.
    I think virtually everyone has a painful story about loss.
    It is like the story where a woman has lost her child, and goes to the Buddha hoping he can bring the child back to life, and Buddha tells her he will if she can collect some seeds, but all must come from homes where no one has experienced loss. Of course she cannot find such a home, and comes to accept her own loss.

    So I know my own story with Norman is ultimately no different from stories we all will have, or already have, with pets, with parents, with children, with lovers, with friends, and even with people we didn't personally know.
    There were as always many TV shows on sept 11 last week. I think it would be impossible to not be moved by that tragedy, and I never met anyone involved.

    Like i said, I think the depth of the pain is just a sign of how deeply we loved, and the Dharma can help us both love more deeply and unconditionally, and also help us cope with the inevitable pain of loss.
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Veteran
    edited September 2010
    Invincible_summer;129544 said:
    How do Buddhists deal with love for family, friends and the goal of non-attachment?
    It's okay to be attached to people you love. In fact it is natural to be attached to those you love.

    And you don't try to develop non-attachment. Just like you don't try to stop thoughts. Both efforts are equally impossible. In meditation, you focus on something else and the thoughts slip over you like water over a rock in a creek. You see this, but you are not moved by your thoughts. Acknowledgment, not denial. Awareness-of without being "hooked" by it. Same thing with attachment ... it doesn't stop. What happens is that gradually re-frame your attitude towards your attachments. And your aversions too.
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless I say "pop" and "you guys" but live in the American SW Veteran
    edited September 2010
    shutoku,

    thank you for sharing your story. :) made me cry a little. a very adorable picture too.
  • edited September 2010
    Shutoku, that's how I love my Molly dog, I can't bear to think what it'll be like without her... Be love an attachment or not, we're stickin with it :)
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited September 2010
    When kindness becomes attachment we use compassion to overcome the hardening of kindness. Compassion for ourselves to be stuck with that negative emotion.

    When compassion hardens into pity or overwhelm we use sympathetic joy to overcome the hardening. We remember the joy and delight of that person we love rather than pity them. Even ourselves.

    When the sympathetic joy hardens into grasping at a pleasant experience, envy or jealousy. In that case we use equanimity to make not so much a big deal and get some air into the situtation.

    When equanimity hardens into indifference or neutrality we rekindle ourselves with kindness..

    So it goes in a circle of antidotes for when we have hardened. We can practice this way.
  • edited September 2010
    That's really awesome, Jeffrey - forgive a newbie question; but is that a general teaching you're paraphrasing, or a specific wording by a teacher?

    In other words, there is nothing wrong with experiencing emotions resulting from love (or the loss of it) - as emotions are part of being human. The suffering really comes from attachment to the spin-off emotions and thoughts - wishing things were different, getting lost in what-if scenarios...

    Or something like that. Am I on the right track? :D
  • edited September 2010
    Love'N'Peace;129986 said:
    Shutoku, that's how I love my Molly dog, I can't bear to think what it'll be like without her... Be love an attachment or not, we're stickin with it :)

    Developing my awareness of everything as impermanent has helped me to focus more on what is possible right now ... thinking and imagining life with this or without that has become less of a trap for me over time - the losses that come, big and little, still hurt and somehow this change in focus has given me more capacity to feel, more directly face and gently move through them, as they arise, develop, change .... so different from my reactions prior to beginning meditative practice and still find it difficult to use words to describe the process.
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    edited September 2010
    I understand the concept (at least I believe I do) of impermanence, but it's just sort of difficult to realize.

    It just seems so easy to slip into nihilism.
  • edited September 2010
    The way I heard my teacher make the essential distinction recently was that "Nothing whatsoever should be clung to" rather than " There is nothing whatsoever worth clinging to " - I think - hope this is not misquoting to miss the important point.
  • edited September 2010
    In this same talk, it was explained that practice helps us develop the ability to not see " things" as occuring on such a personal level. In my experience I have noticed a decrease in the tendency to blame anyone because things are not exactly as I like or want. Rather than forcing or repressing anything it is the ability to accept the way "it' is and importantly the way "we" are right now.
  • edited September 2010
    Invincible_summer;129544 said:
    How do Buddhists deal with love for family, friends and the goal of non-attachment?


    There's nothing wrong in loving other beings. We just have to understand that because of impermanence and death, or of other separation for one reason or another, we have to just gently let go at some point.

    If we can fully accept impermanence, then we'll also recognise that powerful emotions, such as grief at the loss of a loved one, are also impermanent, and we'll still be able to carry on loving others too.



    .
  • edited September 2010
    Studying the four thoughts that turn the mind to Dharma helps us handle the loss that death of a loved one creates. Nothing is permanent, everything is like the shifting sands of a desert. People come, people go, happiness comes, happiness goes, like dreams in the night. Enjoy the times you have with those you love. Don't expect them to last, just enjoy the moment. Some day our lives will also fade away, like the foam of a wave in the sand. It's just the rhythm of life, just phenomena. Nothing to be attached to.

    Palzang
  • edited September 2010
    Thanks Palzang :)
  • edited September 2010
    Yes, that was beautifully expressed Palzang... many thanks from me also :)
  • edited September 2010
    Actually Palzang, that reminds of me of a zen haiku or longer poem of sorts I read once. I can't recall it word-for-word, but it talks about cherry blossoms. Just for a short time the tree will bloom into glorious flowers and scents, and in too short a time, the blossoms wilt and fall. However, the cycle continues - blossoming and falling, life and death, beauty and ugliness.
  • edited September 2010
    Invincible_summer;129544 said:
    Is love attachment?
    It depends on how many concubines there are
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited September 2010
    Gecko, I heard it on a pema chodron tape about the four immeasurable minds. Title: From fear to fearlessness. I paraphrased her teaching I can't remember her exact words.
  • edited September 2010
    Awesome, thanks :D

    Edit: Well, I can't afford to purchase the tapes, but I had a read on buddhanet.net :D
Sign In or Register to comment.