Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Attachment


http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedfoo/203990279/


Question:(unedited)

HI...what does it mean if you love your children too much? Someone I was speaking to,made it seem in Buddhism you can't love your kids too much...it might have something to do with reincarnation,I'm not sure.We never finished our conversation on it and I need to understand this completely.Thanks for your help:)


My comment:

Hi, the one with no name.

Thank you for asking me.

First I must say that I am in no position to answer your question directly, because it would be unfair of me to make judgment on such little information. However, I can express my opinion in general from the message that you provided.

It is very common (and a great problem) for people to misinterpret the Buddha's teachings, especially regarding subjects like craving, attachment, and desires. The Buddha's message is that if we blindly attach ourselves very strongly to things or persons, we will in the end suffer when these things or persons are taken from us. If we are crazy seeking ways to fully satisfy our every desire we will in the end suffer when we realize that we cannot have full satisfaction from all our desires. The Buddha advised us to be very careful when we are especially attracted to things or persons because of the inevitable consequence of losing them in the end. Moreover, in the process of this grasping or attachment of things or persons, we inevitably want to exert control over them, thinking that they belong to us and we have every right to control and manipulate them at our whims and fancies.

The advice is to be careful not to be over-attached or become over-obsessed over our possessions; and this includes our loved ones. We must definitely love our children. We must love them a lot. This is the duty of parents. To neglect them or to reduce our love for them is downright foolishness. The Buddha's advice was that if we were attached to things or persons, be mindful that one day we might have to part. With this mindfulness when things get wrong we will not be too devastated.

What has reincarnation got to do with this?!! By the way the Buddha explained the concept of "rebirth" and not "reincarnation" which is a different concept. Should you wish to know about this, please come back.

5 comments:

Barry said...

I raised my daughter as a single parent through her teenage years (she's now a young adult). As a result, I have some experience this issue.

I produced great suffering for my daughter (much less for myself) because I was attached to certain ideas about how I thought her life should be.

As she grew up, the reality of her life finally exposed my attachment. It wasn't pretty. But I learned a great lesson:

If I could let go of any idea about how my daughter's life "should" be, and simply perceive her for who she actually was at any given time, then she would in that moment experience my full love.

In a very real sense, attachment to some idea prevents us from loving. And loving is the point!

Justin Choo said...

Barry,

I can understand. I have 2 adopted children of different race. Eldest daughter is now 26 and her younger brother is 22.

Not much problem with my son; but my daughter is so different. My wife and I are now taking care of our daughter's 3 yr old child full time.

Justin Choo said...

Barry,

Take a look at my 3 yr old granddaughter, Serena @ my other blog:
http://blackandwhite999.blogspot.com/2008/09/clowns.html

A true Malaysian said...

Justin,

Is this 'Attachment' one of the reason why Buddhist monk and nun are required to give up all their attachment ( or possession) which includes their immediate family members like husband, wife or children before they are qualified to be ordained as monk or nun?

Giving up of attachment like this is a very difficult matter to decide as to a certain extent, 'cruel' to their loved ones.

Are there any 'contradiction' in this matter to your point of view, Justin?

Justin Choo said...

A true Malaysian,

It is very difficult to make a firm decision to become a monk if one is married with dependent children. Personally, I would not encourage anyone in this situation to become a monk. He has to fulfil his obligations as the head of the family and take care of them.

Only when the children are grown up and independent, then it is different.

That brings you to ask another question. Then what about Siddharta the prince? To leave family and children for spiritual pursuit at that time in India was quite common practice. Furthermore, the prince's family was well taken care of by the king.

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