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Episode 156 = Practicing Non-attachment with Family

Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Release Date: 12/13/2022

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We must work on our minds to overcome the habits of attachment--which always bring suffering--whether one is a monk or a family man. The context of a monastery versus a home with young children will make the practice different in some ways, but in other ways achieving levels of nonattachment remains the same! 

 

Loving our family is not in contradiction to the practice of non-attachment. Attachment is self-focused: we are attached to what we think will make us happy. Love, the opposite of attachment, is focused on what will make our friend or loved one happy. In fact, improving our practice of non-attachment is what will make our love more unconditional and stable. 

 

We might practice non-attachment with a family member by examining what we are very attached to in our relationship with them. The things we are most attached to can be identified by looking at what causes the most discord. How sad this is. We may discover that our attachment to them being different than the way causes the most suffering. Or we are very attached to our children or partner being what we consider successful. We can then practice mindfulness with the intention to let go of attachment to that particular thing and to accept them just the way they are. That person might not know you’re practicing non-attachment, but they will like it! This non-attachment will make our relationship with them much happier-- and we’ll be more at peace too.



The Story of an Ex-Bhikkhu

 

“While residing at the Veluvana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (344) of this book, with reference to a bhikkhu who was a pupil of the Venerable Mahakassapa.

 

As a pupil of the Venerable Mahakassapa, this bhikkhu had achieved the four mental absorptions (jhanas). But one day, as he went for alms-food to his uncle's house, he saw a woman and felt a great desire to have her. Then he left the Order of the bhikkhus. As a layman, he was a failure as he did not work hard. So, his uncle drove him out of the house, and subsequently he became mixed up with some thieves. All of them were caught by the authorities and were taken to the cemetery to be executed. The Venerable Mahakassapa saw his pupil as he was being led out and said to him, "My pupil, keep your mind steadfastly on a subject of meditation." As instructed, he concentrated and let himself be established in deep mental absorption. At the cemetery, while the executioners were making preparations to kill him, the ex-bhikkhu was very much composed and showed no signs of fear or anxiety. The executioners and the onlookers were awe-struck and very much impressed by the man's courage and composure and they reported about him to the king and also to the Buddha. The king gave orders to release the man. The Buddha on hearing about the matter sent his radiance and appeared to the thief as if in person.

 

Then the Buddha spoke to him in verse as follows: 

 

[Though] clear of the underbrush 

And out of the forest, 

Someone attached to the forest 

Runs right back to it. 

Come, see that free person 

Run back into bondage. (344)*

--Buddha, Dhammapada



References with Links

 

Buddha (1986).The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories. Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A. (Website). Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon. Courtesy of Nibbana.com. For free distribution only, as a gift of dhamma.

https://www.tipitaka.net/tipitaka/dhp/verseload.php?verse=344



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