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In the last lesson, we talked about suffering, or dissatisfaction, which is what we feel when we’re frustrated, angry, disappointed, anxious, stressed, worried, sad.

When we suffer, we don’t like the way things are. We want something different, we don’t like things as they are, we crave something else or want to avoid things.

Why is that? Where does this feeling of not liking the way things are come from? It comes from attachment — attachment is the root of suffering. Attachment to desires, attachment to aversions.

We all have desires and aversions — we can’t help that. But the problem comes when we’re attached to them — it’s OK to enjoy chocolate, but when you need to have it, can’t stop eating it … then you have an attachment, and problems can arise. eating a piece of chocolate because you desire it is not a problem.

When you don’t like something, this is also normal … but when you are really attached to not having it, this can be a problem, instead of feeling the aversion and just letting it pass.

While attachment is the root of suffering, Buddhists also say that ignorance is the root. Ignorance of reality — we are limited in how we see things. For example, when we don’t like the way things are … we really want things our way. In this moment, we are attached to our self-centered view.

But what if we could take a less limited view of the world, and see that we’re just one small part of it, and that our interests are just part of what should be considered? We’d have a bigger view, and wouldn’t be so self-centered.

Buddhists also believe that we’re not separate from others … I don’t fully understand this myself, but just imagine what it would be like if we thought we are all part of the same thing, part of a team rather than a solo player trying to fight for what he or she wants in the world. If we aren’t separate, then we don’t need to defend ourselves against others, or fear losing out, we don’t need to prove how great we are to others … we can just love them like we might love ourselves. I don’t pretend to see reality this way, but when I act as if it is true, I feel better. Things are easier, rather than a struggle.

So … attachments and ignorance … how can we move forward? We start with awareness. Practice seeing your attachments, seeing when you’re being self-centered or feeling separate from others. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but it’s good to be aware of them.

We’ll talk about attachments in later lessons, but for now, just focus on being aware of them.


Please complete one of these exercises:

  1. Beginner: Every day, try to notice when you are attached to something, during your meditation. You might notice your suffering (feeling of frustration, anxiety, anger, sadness, dissatisfaction, etc.) and try to see what you are attached to. Write about it in your mindfulness journal.
  2. Advanced: As you do the above exercise, try to return to the present moment and see if you can be grateful for how it is, just as it is, in spite of your attachments. Let the current moment breathe. Let it be, as it is. Let yourself breathe, let yourself be, as you are. Practice with this.