In the last e-newsletter, we briefly addressed the four Noble Truths, starting with the first Noble Truth: simplified to “All life is suffering.”  Then we realize in that in the second Noble truth: the cause of suffering arises from attachment. 

What is attachment?  It can be good (such as the attachment to a loved one that allows you to care for them more easily) or bad (attachment to items that are impossible to have, which leads to greed, one of the three poisons. But the idea of good and bad is still a human judgement. What if that loved one decides to separate? Being attached to them can then lead to a lot of hurt feelings.  How do we remove our hurt or suffering? Well, we would need to remove the root source of the pain – the attachment.  That is why in normal everyday life, people say that “time heals all”. 
Sometimes it takes time to detach from things that cause suffering. But as (Vajrayana) Buddhists, we are blessed. We are given a large toolbox of methods to decrease our suffering in general and it all starts with our cultivation practice. We have a practice that purifies of body, speech, and mind (the four preliminaries) which is one of the practices that Grand Master Lu encourages every lay practitioner to practice daily. Those of you who do, already know that it has changed you, and helped decrease suffering, and increase awareness.  For some, it’s an awareness of a bigger picture.  For others, it increases empathy for all sentient beings.  That bigger picture, and empathy, comes from the understanding that all the things that we attach to are inherently empty.  Friendships and relationships may come for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  Those in the first two groups are transient and impermanent.  If we learn to detach ourselves from those relationships that naturally fade away, we wouldn’t suffer as much. The same goes for material items.  Inherently, if you want the most current iPhone, just knowing that if you wait a few years, a newer one will replace the current version, and in a sense, each version is impermanent (it doesn’t stay new).  What is the difference from getting one now or later? The reason behind your desire for the new phone often stems from marketing, in which properties of those material items are advertised, to create an attachment.  If you never saw the marketing in the first place, you wouldn’t have a desire for the item!  Isn’t that the most artificial causes of desire, and doesn’t it easily lead to greed?   Don’t get me wrong – I am the MOST susceptible to marketing (food, electronics, clothing, fitness classes – you name it, I want it).  I need to cultivate more to offset those desires, temptations, and cravings. We are all human after all. However, the best part is that the more I cultivate, the less I am influenced by those attachments.  What are your experiences? I’d love to hear about them. 

Yvonne Wong, Ph.D.