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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Apr 21, 2019

The Eight Worldly Concerns represent the attachments and aversions that keep us trapped in a cycle of suffering and elation, with an unstable mind that is like a balloon in the wind. The 8 Worldly Concerns consist of the following four pairs: pleasure and pain, gain and loss, praise and blame, and fame and shame. When we experience pleasure, gain, praise and fame we are happy, but when we experience the opposite we become fearful, depressed or angry. We can look closely at our mind and see if there is a certain pair that affect us most deeply. This is an indicator of the attachment and aversion that causes us the most trouble. Perhaps we discover that we are obsessed with wealth (gain) and worry a lot about money. Understanding what keeps us locked on a rollercoaster--that is down and much as it is up--is the first step toward mental freedom. The second step is observing how this aversion and attachment affect our mind; watching your mind for this is the suggested mindfulness practice for the week.

One underlying problem with being attached to the worldly concerns is that we believe our happiness comes from external sources like fame or praise. Thus we are always subject to rising and falling happiness, rather than stable happiness that comes from within. We also create negative karma by acting in unkind or unethical ways to have what we want. With strong resistance to things not going as we want them to, we sometimes respond with anger or by hurting others with words or actions. This also created negative karma, the true cause of future suffering. Once we perceive the effects of our attachment and aversion to worldly concerns, we can use many different Buddhist teachings to detach from them. Know your own mind and you will awaken.


As a solid mass of rock

Is not moved by the wind,

So a sage is unmoved

By praise or blame. (81)


As a deep lake Is clear and undisturbed,

So a sage becomes clear

Upon hearing the Dharma. (82)


Virtuous people always let go.

They don’t prattle about pleasures and desires.

Touched by happiness and then by suffering,

The sage shows no sign of being elated or depressed.


A person who would not wish for success by unethical means,

Not for the sake of oneself,

Not for the sake of others,

Not with hopes for children, wealth, or kingdom,

Is a person of virtue, insight, and truth.


The Dhammapada, by Buddha. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 20-21

Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, by Je Tsongkhapa, Volume 1. Pages 350-354. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua Cutler, Editor-in-Chief, and Guy Newlan, Editor.