May 19 : The Flood of Attachment

Sweeping us in the torrent of cyclic existence, conditioned by the propelling winds of karma, we are tossed in the waves of birth, aging, sickness and death: The flood of attachment — please protect us from this danger!

The danger of attachment to your mind is grave. Think of being helplessly caught in a tsunami. It tosses you about, slamming you against any debris that happens to be nearby. It is overwhelming. You have no control whatsoever. It tosses you from side to side and very soon you are exhausted for trying to fight it. It drowns you unless you can grab hold of something to pull yourself out of it.

This is what attachment does. It keeps you helpless in cyclic existence, powerfully swept along by the current of time and space. Our obsession with what we cling to prevents peace, the peace of nirvana. The biggest attachment we have, that keeps us violently tossing about, is our attachment to this body and life.

We need to look at our attachments and figure out what it is that keeps us wanting more. What do we think will make us happy? If we get what we are attached to, will that bring us everlasting happiness? We need to reach out and grab a hold of the life preserver that Buddhism gives us. If we can grab it and use it in the way it is meant to be used, we can pull ourselves out of this endless sea of samsara and find safety on nirvana’s shore.

We do this by contemplating the transient nature of all things. Nothing is going to last forever. Therefore, even if we manage to grab hold of what we want, we will eventually lose it or desire to replace it with something new and better. Reflecting on the disadvantages of cyclic existence is another good antidote. When we look at samsara closely, can we see its unsatisfactory nature of it? Can we see the suffering that it brings to all sentient beings? Even if today is a good day, that does not mean tomorrow will be. We still have to keep struggling against pain and change and the all-pervasive conditioning that keeps us trapped in cyclic existence. Only by really examining our situation can we find the path that will allow us to get out of this current situation that we are in and find the path to true happiness.

“365 Gems of Wisdom” e-book is out now!