Friday, October 26, 2012

Life in motion

Probably about two years ago, my good friend Mark and I were musing about life and love, and Buddhism, and inevitably reached the topic of attachment. Mark mentioned that, in a nutshell, Buddhism teaches non-attachment; the idea that we have to get rid of the desire to possess things, to attach ourselves to things externally, as this produces discord and addiction. The ideal way of thinking about this can be summed up in the following quote by Zen teacher John Daido Loori:

"[A]ccording to the Buddhist point of view, nonattachment is exactly the opposite of separation. You need two things in order to have attachment: the thing you’re attaching to, and the person who’s attaching. In nonattachment, on the other hand, there’s unity. There’s unity because there’s nothing to attach to. If you have unified with the whole universe, there’s nothing outside of you, so the notion of attachment becomes absurd. Who will attach to what?"

An amazing concept, but quite a feat to comprehend and employ in real life. From the moment we are born, we survive on the concept of attachment. It is a necessity for a child to depend on their mother for food, warmth, comfort. As we grow older, attachment is a means of carving out our world, being led by example, and forging our own path from the comfort and safety of a trusted source. Attachment is a means of survival.

But as we grow older, we may find attachment to be somewhat troublesome and addicting. First love, first heart break; first problems, first vices. Sometimes attachment becomes the kind that inhibits us from continuing on the path and expanding our world and consciousness; moving forward…

Love is the best example of this. How can a person NOT attach themself to the person they love? How can we live a seemingly emotionless, unattached existence from someone who is so close, someone who we exchange feelings and emotions with continually?
The sheer exchange of emotions plants memories, dreams, hopes and expectations in our minds and hearts. And these linger, especially in trying times, when these no longer match the current emotion experienced. Furthermore, discord occurs when the feelings experienced by two people no longer match, and therefore these dreams, hopes and expectations are not forged. This is where the attachment occurs. Emotions come and go, but the outcomes attached to these can stick around for a long time. A person does not get attached to emotions, they get attached to the predicted outcome of these emotions.

So knowing this how is it possible to live life unattached, yet happy and unified with others? Take a stroll down by the sea on a good surf day. There will be moments when surfers sit on their boards and wait for the waves to roll in, and there will be times they are catching each wave as it comes. What you will notice, every day, is that high or low tide, the waves never stop. Whether you experience the surf to be good or bad, is a subjective opinion. But the waves never stop, there is constant motion. That is the law of nature, of the sea.
Buddha taught the same principal: to live life in harmony and accept life as it is. To accept that life has ebb and flow, things which come and which go, things that are experienced as joys, and others that are experienced as troubles.
In accepting the unity, the perfection of the entire experience of life, we become non-attached. Because there is nothing to attach to, the experience is in us, and we are the experience. We live life in flow, in motion, in harmony; aware of the dichotomy, yet appreciating the perfection of life as it is.  

Copyright © SoulSurfer 26 October 2012 at 10.42am


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