Not to Attach is the Way of Peace

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The Buddha realized directly that a discrete, independent, persisting self cannot be found. Delusion is simply not having realized what The Buddha realized. Delusion is living the unrecognized assumption that life revolves around a discrete, independent, persisting self.

Simply to believe and attach to the idea of a persistent self is to live life filled with craving and dissatisfaction. Unwittingly holding this fundamental belief, our actions perpetuate and radiate turmoil, as we try to bring our individual ideas of right and wrong to the world of many ideas.

We typically assume we can bring peace by lobbying for changes that match our beliefs, explanations, or philosophies about life. We have taken our formulas about life as absolute truth, and we attempt to make the world bend to those held formulas. This is already to stray from peace.

Each of us has the capacity to realize exactly what The Buddha realized. To thoroughly recognize our identification with this fabricated self, is to be released from the turmoil of craving and dissatisfaction. We can, just like The Buddha, realize directly the fluidity of reality from which the illusion of separateness arises. From this knowing of wholeness and non-separation, activity is manifested as a life of open response (rather than personal-agenda-response). With this knowing, activity attends to the life of All-Beings, which is none other than this life, here/now.

Not to attach to a self is exactly not to stray from peace.

© 2012 Bev Forsman and Letters from Emptiness. If you share this material, please include direction to the original content. Thank you.

6 thoughts on “Not to Attach is the Way of Peace

  1. Ken Christenson says:

    There’s a famous picture of Einstein and Niels Bohr sitting together. Both lost in reverie. Bohr seems heavily focused on his personal agenda, frowning (“attached”?). Einstein on the other hand is sprawled in his seat, eyes wide open and focused on something near the ceiling. Both are involved with an agenda, but Einstein seems to admit the possibility of opening to the world around him. Is he also “attached”? I think so; how could he not be, given the implications of his agenda? Perhaps his attachment is more conditional on his direct experience? I don’t know “loose” our attachment should be that allows us to put real energy into abstract understanding, and also allows us to be creative in our problem solving. Perhaps there’s less of a “self” when you’re being an Einstein?

    Since there’s no other responses yet Bev, I thought I’d take this in an unusual direction. Thanks.


    • suvinita says:

      Thanks Ken, for the direction.

      In the meantime, in response to your ponderings… We spend so much time speculating about others (and our own assessments of practice), when, actually, we have ample opportunity to look at our own minds. All this trying to figure out and settle upon something is to veer away from direct experience. The “churning mind” trying to attach to an answer, is the hindrance to realization. Have you noticed that creativity arrives (or that forgotten word or phrase) when the mind isn’t striving for particular-ness?


      • Ken Christenson says:

        Yes, I’ve noticed that. I just wanted to open up a discussion on the second level of the eight-fold path. We hear a lot about right view, right speech, and right action. Given the need in this day and age for us to unravel and ADVANCE our knowledge of the bewildering complexities we find in new technologies and in ecosystems (the latter need at least is obvious), how can we make such necessarily abstract thinking “right”? I thought the picture I referred to might help (“worth more than a thousand words” even related to my own experience?). The degree to which attachment, and surely the degree to which attachment to self, comes into this sometimes “ponderous” sometimes chastening work is relevant. (If Paramahansa Yoginanda had done more of this work I would not have given up on meditation forty years ago. Luckily Steve Hagen opened the door for my skepticism again with his book: “Buddhism Plain and Simple”. So even though my “unusual direction” here may have only a tenuous connection to your post, there’s IS a connection between the two comments you’ve received. Karma works!)


        • suvinita says:

          Attaching to self is not a matter of degrees, but rather zero or 100%. In our confusion we see an object and try not to cling too tightly. We don’t realize the assumption of self that is inherent when playing with the “attachment to object.” This is to be 100% caught, attached.

          Relative experience cannot be separated from the Absolute. When it is said that a particular self cannot be found, it does not mean that actions are without consideration. The three times and the ten directions are included in this here/now experience whether there is clarity or not. The Awakened know thoroughly that what has “come to the surface”* is none other than Totality. This is the True Self, not an object, impossible to measure.

          All there is, is action. There is a subtle, but profound difference in the actions of Wisdom and the actions of confusion. The Awakened attend to Totality as it appears (what has come to the surface). Wisdom manifests as right speech, action, and livelihood.

          Abstract thinking is not wrong, is not bad. We simply cannot use it to realize the Absolute.



  2. Jose Palmieri says:

    Great photo! Years ago I read The Autobiography of a Yogi by Swami Yogananda. He founded the Self-Realization Fellowship. I didn’t quite understand what was meant by self-realization at the time but it sounded good to my uninformed mind. Yogananda’s teachings were not, as you say, about recognizing our attachment to a fabricated self so I suspect the meaning is opposite to what perhaps could be called in zen “not-self-realization” or “un-locatable self-realization”.


    • suvinita says:

      The photo is a stock photo at pdphoto. I am actually thinking of taking a picture of the peace pole at the Lake Harriet Peace Garden and placing it in this post instead.

      I don’t know much about yogic self-realization except as I’ve understood it from a small sampling of yoga practitioners. Perhaps there is a more subtle understanding than that expressed by those I’ve talked with (or than those who write autobiographies) but I haven’t yet found it. I appreciate your term “un-locatable self-realization.”

      Thank you for your comments, Jose.


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