Attachment versus Love

Attachment versus Love [1]

Many of our teachers say that attachment will be our major source of suffering at the time of our death: attachment to this life, to our loved ones, to our possessions and most of all to our body.

Therefore, before we die, and whilst we are still capable, we should spend some time trying to pin down the meaning of attachment, what we are attached to, and learn how to overcome attachment and replace it with loving-kindness (‘love’).

The well-known nun, Thubten Chodron, has written a book about the main questions she has been asked over the years. The book is for those interested in Buddhism as well as those who have studied or practised it for many years but who are still unclear about some points.

In Buddhism, says Thubten Chodron, attachment is defined as an attitude that exaggerates other people’s good qualities, or projects good qualities that aren’t there, and then clings to these people. With attachment, we care for others because they please us. They give us presents, praise us, help and encourage us.

On the other hand, with love, we want sentient beings to have happiness and its causes simply because they are living beings just like ourselves.

When we are attached to others, we don’t see them for who they are and thereby develop many expectations of them, thinking they should be like this and they should do that. Then, when they don’t live up to what we thought they were or should be, we feel hurt, disillusioned and angry.

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[1] Extracts from Buddhism for Beginners, by Venerable Thubten Chodron, Snow Lion: Ithaca, 2001 page 30, selected by Len Warren