Showing posts from February, 2012


Where does the time go? It’s been all year long so far that I’ve been exploring the Brahma-viharas, the “Four Sublime Abodes” of compassion, equanimity, sympathetic joy, and loving-kindness (Sangharakshita, 1980, p. 141), and their respective “near enemies” of pity, indifference, comparison, and attachment (Kornfield, 1993, p. 190). Nonetheless, I think we’re ready to bring this series to a close. If you’ve had the opportunity to read the previous posts exploring attachment (all four of them!) you’ll know that it’s quite the near enemy of loving-kindness, the usual English translation equivalent of the Sanskrit word, metta, which is referred to by Rahula (1959) as the extension of “unlimited, universal love and good-will… to all living beings without any kind of discrimination, ‘just as a mother loves her only child’” (p. 75).

Clearly, the universal and non-discriminatory nature of metta as spoken of here reveals why attachment is its near enemy – especially the attachment that is ro…

Attachment, Sexuality, and Spirituality (Part 2 of 2)

At the close of the previous post I posed a rhetorical question that I will make even more specific here: How does a Buddhist who’s taken a bodhisattva vow to save all beings reconcile that chosen spiritual path – including its inherent admonition regarding the perils of the three poisons of attachment, aversion, and delusion – with the existence of a strong romantic attachment to one being in particular, and the yearning to physically manifest that love? Let’s see…, I probably won’t be able to convince you that I’ve transcended ordinary ideas regarding self and other, and, as such, am merely experiencing the pleasure of what is – these circumstances that I just happen to find my non-self in. Oh, and I probably won’t be able to convince you that I don’t really yearn for my beloved at all but, rather, simply find myself in her arms over and over again – enjoying great pleasure without ever feeling the need to be with her ever again. No, it seems that I’m left with only a few possible …

Attachment, Sexuality, and Spirituality (Part 1 of 2)

Let me be clear from the start that the term attachment as used here is in reference to that of the so-called three poisons of attachment, aversion, and delusion spoken of amongst Buddhists, and not that of attachment theory as furthered by the work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth and considered at length by counselors, psychologists, and developmental theorists. Come to think of it, there is probably much that can be said about the relationship between this Buddhist concept of attachment and the secure, avoidant, and ambivalent attachment styles that manifest during childrearing; for now, though, I must proceed with a narrower scope. Attachment, then, for the remainder of this post, will refer to that which is pointed to by the various terms and descriptions discussed previously: greed, lust, desire, craving, yearning, longing, grasping, covetousness, cupidity, and avarice; having hunger, thirst, affection, fondness, passion and/or sympathy for, or taking interest and/or delight i…

Attachment (Yes, I'm Still Stuck On It)

Last week’s post found us taking a detour from the path of loving-kindness – the one that we’re “supposed” to be on – in order to explore the path of its near enemy, attachment – the path that we’re not to venture down no matter what, right? At least, that’s the way it’s spoken of sometimes, isn’t it? Let’s face it, though, far from being “the road less travelled,” the path of attachment is the one that we’re usually on – we just seem to have the tendency to travel it at night, before the moon has risen, when we’re sleepy and have our eyes half closed! So, now that the sun has risen and we’re wide awake (you know, we’ve had our mandatory quadruple-shot mocha latte, and all), let’s embark down this path called attachment with the intention of examining closely the terrain.

By the end of last week’s post we’d sorted through an abundance of words related to all of the various and sundry ways that we get pulled from the path leading to that place of calm, non-discriminating awareness (eq…