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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

May 4, 2019

This episode is about FREEDOM:

freedom from sorrow

giving others freedom

freedom from the past

In other words, we look at how to lessen our habit of attachment. This exploration of attachment is in the context of an ordinary, modern life with marriage, children, jobs and family. Attachment is a habit of mind, like anger and jealousy are habits of mind. Attachment is the habit of viewing something as a cause of our happiness and then feeling that we need it in order to be happy. Attachment is not desire. There are many times we desire things without becoming attached. For example, we may desire to park our car. This is usually a neutral desire. However, if someone takes the parking spot we want, then attachment might arise and we become irritated. Attachment is not about the physical things, it is about how we relate to them. Giving up attachment doesn’t mean we shouldn’t own things, but that we don’t let things own us.


You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”

--Thich Nhat Hanh

If someone says, “have no attachment to your spouse or child,” it does not mean giving up loving them or feeling connected to them. It means that we give up being attached to what we want them to be or do. If we are attached to them becoming a football player and they want to be in the Drama Club, we might become frustrated or disappointed in them. That disappointment or frustration comes from being attached to how we want them to be, rather than how they are. We practice non-attachment when we give them them freedom to be themselves. We try not take take things personally. We let them go through what they need to, even if it’s hard. Attachment doesn’t make us closer; it creates anger or lack of acceptance, which undermines the connection between two people.  Attachment and love are opposites.

Can there be love without pain? Yes. If we oppose our attachment habit in relationships. To have a peaceful, happy relationship, we increase our habit of love in a relationship and decrease our habit of attachment. Attachment manifests in our selfish intentions and actions. Love is the habit of cherishing them. Attachment is our selfishness with others.

Practicing non-attachment also means we try to accept situations just as they are, without wishing them to be other than they are. When we are attached to something being other than they way it is, we suffer. This resistance to ‘what is’ is futile, but we are deeply habituated to this reaction. Buddha taught that freedom is possible right here in this ordinary way of life.


The fever of passion exists not for him who has completed the journey, who is sorrowless and wholly set free, and has broken all ties. (90)

The mindful ones exert themselves. They are not attached to any home; like swans that abandon the lake, they leave home after home behind.

Those who do not accumulate and are wise regarding food, whose object is the Void, the Unconditioned Freedom -- their track cannot be traced, like that of birds in the air.

He whose cankers are destroyed and who is not attached to food, whose object is the void, the unconditioned Freedom-- his path cannot be traced, like that of birds in the air. (93)



Buddha. The Dhammapada: The Buddhist Path of Wisdom. Translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita. Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc., pp. 27. (PDF version)