Friday, February 23, 2007

Dealing with suffering; Buddhist detachment

Picture taken by Jan-Pieter Nap ( ) in 2004


"Kisa Gotami comes to the Buddha cradling her dead child. She is distraught, even a little crazed, and cannot accept that her child is dead. She has heard the Buddha is a great man, a great healer, and begs him to provide medicine for her ‘sick’ child. The Buddha replies that he will help her. She must find a mustard seed as medicine, but there is one condition: it must come from a household that has not known death..." fwbo :: All Embracing Urge

The following is fiction:

John - My friend Betty is in hospital. I had a sleepless night. I feel bad in my guts.

Mary - A hundred people have just died in an earthquake in China. Did that give you a sleepless night?

John - No.

Mary - Would it have helped these hundred dead Chinese if you had been worrying about them and having a sleepless night?

John - No

Mary - Does it help your friend Betty if you have a sleepless night?

John - No. But I'm very fond of Betty.

Mary - You feel compassion for Betty. So what do you do? You visit her in hospital and take her flowers. That helps Betty.

John - So why do I have a sleepless night?

Mary - Think of the hundred people people who died in China. Their deaths did not affect your 'ego'.

John - So how does Betty's illness affect my ego?

Mary - You're thinking of how Betty's illness affects you. At the moment, she can't come round to your place to give you a cuddle. Your life is being disrupted. If she were to die, it would be you that would feel great loss and anguish.

John - I should feel compassion though.

Mary - Yes. Compassion is positive. But we should try to avoid the negative stuff. Just imagine if we all got pains in the gut every time someone in Africa was to die.

John - But I love Betty.

Mary - We should try to have compassion for everyone; not just one person or group of friends.


"It is generally true that the more emotionally involved you are with someone, the more you are liable to be caught in attachment. At worst this can mean limiting, insecure ways of relating, and unhealthy dependence. Attachment is difficult to recognise and can be easily rationalised as something less selfish..." fwbo :: All Embracing Urge

Pascal said: "The king is surrounded by persons whose only thought is to divert the king, and to prevent his thinking of self. For he is unhappy, king though he be, if he thinks of himself.This is all that men have been able to discover to make themselves happy. And those who philosophize on the matter, and who think men unreasonable for spending a whole day in chasing a hare which they would not have bought, scarce know our nature. The hare in itself would not screen us from the sight of death and calamities; but the chase which turns away our attention from these, does screen us."


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