Posted by Wendie (220.127.116.11) on October 06, 2000 at 15:50:29:
In Reply to: Re: Sergio:Quit his desire posted by Sergio on October 03, 2000 at 11:39:20:
: Very Dear Jus Little:
: Your question is great: it is very simple but very important and valid. One could confuse easily. .
: My Lama Karam has given us a very clear point of view about the topic of desire and attachment, and he has emphasised us the difference between them since the beginning of my Buddhist education.
: He taught us that Buddhism is very new in the West (since England invaded India) so there are a lot of words very wrong translated and interpreted. Desire and attachment are the most important.
: To desire something is not the same that being attached to it. I’ll say it again: To desire something is NOT the same that be attached to it. I’m referring about things, people, ideas, circumstances, etc. You can desire to eat because you are hungry, but it is different that being attached to food. The definition that my lama gave us of attachment is the following:
: Attachment is a perception of an object, person, idea or circumstance that we look as if it was an inherent source of happiness or pleasure, and because we perceive it with that characteristic, we exaggerate any positive characteristic on it and we feel the need to be/have with this object/person all the time.
: For example, I have a problem with pizzas. A love them. When I’m hungry, I think always in the Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut (Meet lover’s flavour). This is desire because I’m hungry and I want to eat. I love pizza’s flavour so I think in Pizza Hut. I arrive to Pizza Hut and I eat. But when I’m full, I don’t realise that I’m full. I perceive this pizza as an inherent source of pleasure, so I keep eating. This is not a conceptual thing, you don’t think about it, you just do it and feel it. Because I like it so much, I exaggerate its positive characteristic (great flavour), and I keep eating. The problem is that when a person is full, anything else eaten causes suffering, not pleasure. But our perception of the thing as an inherent source of happiness blinds this reality, because our perception is nor real. So you have to wait until the pain of eating is very strong to stop. If you could perceive the objet without attachment, you’d stop eating it once you are full.
: This is even worse with people. Worst attachments are those that involve relationships, because energy lost in them are incredible, also the pain. You perceive your girlfriend as an inherent source of happiness, and you exaggerate all her characteristics. All people looks in her several defects, but you perceive her more than perfect. And because you make her in your mind a source of happiness, you feel great because you believe it. This is known in Buddhism as to live in an illusion, to live in a wrong perception where you see things as they are not. This is to be in love, a neurotic perception based in attachment. But once she changes, or circumstances change, and she decides to marry with other man, your entire life crashes because she was your inherent source of happiness. But she was never an inherent source of happiness, because she changes and all changes so nothing has the characteristic to generate pleasure forever.
: That is the main point you never sow. Otherwise any other people in contact with her had to experience the same pleasure that you experience with her, because happiness arises from her.
: It was your wrong perception about the way she exists the cause of your suffering (she exists as impermanent, without inherent/permanent characteristics).
: To be in love is different to love someone. The definition that my lama gave us about love under the Buddhist point of view is the following:
: Love: Make other people happy.
: So if we loved a person, we’d try to make her happy. But when we are “in love”, we want that person be always with us and also that she behaviours as we want, that way I will be happy. So that is a selfish attitude. An altruistic attitude would be to make all we can to make that person happy. But it doesn’t mean to make all we think that it SHOULD make her happy. In an extreme case, if the person told you that she would be happier with other man, then a loving attitude would be to let her go with him. But this is very sophisticated for people like us, isn’t it?.
: So there is nothing wrong about desiring. I think it would be a little stupid to think that we shouldn’t desire anything. We would be like statues: “You wouldn’t move because you don’t desire to move due to you don’t desire anything”.
: Of course we desire, and it is ok to desire. As a Buddhist you desire to get enlightenment, don’t you?.
: The main point is attachment, not desire. Of course that you might desire a person in your life, but it doesn’t mean that you should feel bad if you don’t have her or if you lose her. Even the Buddhas desire: They desire that all beings attain enlightenment. But they don’t suffer if beings don’t make it.
: So there is nothing wrong with desiring. I don’t mean that tomorrow we all should go to a Bar and party because we do desire. Remember that the Buddha taught the Middle Way: happiness is between total abstinence and its opposite.
: This is very important to understand. Otherwise you will suffer a lot. You will be a self-repressive person. You will select the ugly ice because the chocolate’s one is better. That would decrease the quality of your life very much. Or maybe you will never ask a girl to go out, and you will justify your action thinking “I have the balls, it is just that I’m a good Buddhist”. This is wrong.
: As Buddhists we want to enjoy life as much as we can, to sing under the rain. We are not self-repressive people. Of course we understand that all is impermanent. So once your girlfriend leaves us, or because of some circumstances your relationship ends, you will kiss her hand and say “goodbye”. No cries, no pain. Just a smile wishing her to be happy. This is elegant. This is only for a good Buddhist practitioner. And because we always knew it was going to end, we enjoyed each minute with that person completely. We didn’t have time for anger, fights or rancour. Small things didn’t consume our energy, it was time to be happy. That is to be a Buddhist. The Tibetan word for “Buddhist” is “Sang ye”, which means “to live from inside” or “to live with the heart”.
: Hope it be useful
Thank you so much for the wonderful pizza analogy! I have been weaving the
desire/attatchment issue in my head for a while now, you have helped me to clear
it up. I had a good friend in a motorcycle accident a couple of weeks ago. Since I
grew up Baptist-we always prayed in groups and holding hands for the well-being of others-but
as a fairly new Buddhist-I wasn't sure what to do to make myself feel better about not being able to do anything for him
(which is what prayer does, in my opinion)I wasn't sure if desiring my friend's recovery was the same as being
attatched to him. I meditated on the question and decided to just let it be the way it felt in me. Your reply has
helped me to understand the difference. Thanks again. Oh, and my friend is doing better too.
Post a Followup