What It Means To Practice Non-Attachment
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Health and Wellness

What It Means To Practice Non-Attachment

Healthy detachment is the key to self-love.

What It Means To Practice Non-Attachment
Flickr/Avery Studio

While I am personally not very good at attaching myself to entire belief systems and accepting them as the whole truth—I like different elements of all religions—Buddhism is different. This is debated, but I see it as more of a philosophy than a religion. In fact, Buddha himself laid out his ideas not as a belief system that must be adhered to for salvation, but rather the best possible path to happiness based on his life experiences. Whether or not it is truly the best path, one idea that could be beneficial to people who follow any faith is non-attachment.

As part of the Four Noble Truths, Buddha taught that the one constant in life is dukkha, or dissatisfaction, which occurs due to constant wanting. Everybody wants something consistently, whether it be to unite with someone you have feelings for, to get a new job in order to increase your standard of living, or to find the meaning of life. The quest for what we want takes over our lives. We are always searching. Through his experiences, Buddha found that this dissatisfaction and suffering due to loss or unfulfilled desire was the cause for all unhappiness. It’s a very broad way to put it, but I agree that burning desire and attachment go together with suffering. Let’s take a breakup, for example—you are sad because you lost happiness you once had. More so, you were attached to that happiness from that person, so when you lost it, you suffered. It’s a normal part of life.

Buddha then believed that the way to reduce this suffering and stay happy no matter what life throws your way was a concept called detachment, or non-attachment. Using this concept, you do your best not to form intense attachments or rely solely on any aspect of your life, and in this, you can be more at peace. This does not mean, of course, that you cannot fall in love or be passionate about anything. What it means is accepting the constant state of change that the world is in. No part of your life, no person, place, or thing, is guaranteed or constant, and that doesn’t mean that this world is bad; this is simply the nature of life. Enjoy everything you have, but understand that change makes the world go round, and you must anchor yourself to a happiness that is within you rather than grounding yourself in any person or material thing. If you build your sense of stability on anything that is not inside yourself, you will not be able to guarantee your happiness. If you practice non-attachment, though, you can find comfort rather than distress in the tumultuous nature of life.

It sounds impossible, but it's not. Most of us base our lives on the people or things we are attached to, whether it be one’s family, romantic partner, home, or career. It is important to have a healthy home life, family life and love life, but aspects of all those areas can shift at any time. Paradoxically, change is the only constant. By recognizing this, we can work to live peaceful lives. The world around us is a rainforest, and instead of clinging to the moments of sunshine, sometimes our only option is to find beauty in the rainstorms.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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