I Believe

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The definition of attachment is an obscure and complex. What is attachment? Specifically, what is the kind of attachment Buddha and Lao Tzu warn against and is it truly a detriment to our lives? Through the course of my final semester here at Punahou my beliefs on this matter- what attachment encompasses and whether it is an aid, a hindrance, or a crutch for something greater out there- have changed drastically from on extreme to the other in large part to the insights brought on by the different teachings of worldwide cultures. I've come to a conclusion that is by no means final, but suffices for my life at the moment. Life is ever changing and I understand as I gain a deeper understanding of myself and the world I live in I will find clashing beliefs and ideas that will challenge and enforce these conclusions.

A lot of my digressions come mainly from the three eastern religions we covered: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Our brief look into these philosophies all supported the fact that attachments were not only unbeneficial to our lives, but should be actively expunged from them. Or rather this was my initial impression of their core teachings. I wrongly believe these religions were suggesting that deprivation and impassivity to all aspects of life was the only path to being 'enlightened'. I defined attachment in this sense as I heard it- anything in your life your show a preference or detest for. Not only material goods, but the people your love, your health and life, the activities and foods you enjoy- the enjoyment of all of these were to be suppressed. In this way I came to strongly support that attachments were unavoidable. The mere thought of being able to follow these ideas were deemed ludicrous to me and so I freely attached and reveled in my intellect at being able to see that these attachments were the choices and preferences of a free mind.

Then I suffered. It was fortunate I formed an unhealthy attachment at this time because otherwise I could potentially have spent a lifetime foolishly believing that the aforementioned philosophies were restrictive, self-disciplinary, and without purpose. I developed an attachment, as most high school adolescents do, to a person of romantic interest to me. Certainly I've been hurt by attachment before, but this one was just so convenient the way it ceaselessly hammered at the cracks in my heart, reminding me of those other hurts I experienced due to attachment as these ideas were ever present in my mind at the time. I experienced jealously, insecurity, wants cleverly dressed in the guise of need. Addictive and unable to find serenity from these distractions and defaults I decided to practice in part a form of deprivation. I would force myself away to hopefully lessen a dependence on his presence. So in this way I came to the second stage of my mindset on attachment- the definition of an attachment was simply him and things like him- metaphorical drugs, the things we mental feel we can't do without and form dependency on- and the consensus was that this attachment was indeed something to be avoided, cut off. Whereas before I believed life encompassed of good and bad experiences where one had to take the pains along with the pleasure through attachment (and that Buddhism and the like were antithetic- practices where you tried to only and perpetually feel lukewarm content through detachment), I could now see how certain degrees of pain caused by this new form of attachment- "suffering" as I defined it (is this how Buddhism defines it?)- should perhaps be removed.

In the end, looking further into the ideas of Hinduism (the gita mainly) and Buddhism I discovered how the gita defines discipline as refraining from over indulgence as well as deprivation. From what I read and digested, the core principles of these beliefs lie in living in the moment. Nothing belongs to anyone- we come into the world without 'attachments'. People, things, moments do not belong to us. We experience them and take pleasure and pain the same way. There needs to an understanding that these things, these attachments do not ultimately belong to us and changing circumstances (a constant in life) will take them away or change them. To truly be enlightened, you have to enjoy who you're with and what's in your life without fear of losing them- you will eventually lose everything in death and be one with everything at the end of the process (nirvana). I can't avoid suffering through forming attachment and hold onto them for dear life nor by cutting it completely from my life. When he leaves, he will leave. It's an unavoidable truth and I need to accept this. When I do I will be able to enjoy our moments together before we part without despair at parting tingeing every day.


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