Sunday Service: Nonattachment in Practice

Week of July 12 – July 18, 2015

Last week we brought you part one of a two-part series by Bhikkhu Buddhadasa on nonattachment and how all paths ultimately lead to one. This week we bring you the second part, which focuses more on what it means to be nonattached.

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa was an influential Buddhist monk from Thailand who lived in the 20th century and was best known for rejecting specific religious identification and considering all faiths as one.

I first ran across Buddhadasa when I was in Thailand late last year. I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks at Wat Suan Mokkh, the monastery he had founded. While there were differences on the outside between Vedanta and the Buddhist practices at Wat Suan Mokkh, on a deeper level the teachings were quite similar. I felt at home, and the guidance I received while there could just as easily have come from a Ramakrishna monastery.

I hope you enjoy this week’s talk as much as I did.

Peter Kowalke


BuddhadasaThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

Nonattachment in Practice

By Bhikkhu Buddhadasa

We already talked about the problem of language, and how it can make universal truth, dhamma, sound like many different religions. We now will talk about how to live this universal truth that is described so many ways. Buddhists call this nonattachment.

The Buddhist teaching on nonattachment is not unique. In fact, it can be found in every religion on the level of dhamma language. Its meaning is deep and profound, not easy to see and very often not understood correctly. Many religious people do not grasp their own tradition very deeply. For instance, we find in the New Testament that it is said, “Let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods.” This teaching is to be understood in the same way as our basic theme of nonattachment. That is, if you have a wife, do not be attached to her; if you incur sorrow or suffering, act as though it never happened and thereby overcome it.

Unfortunately, most people are dominated by their desires. They let themselves suffer intolerably over attachments and disappointments. As the biblical quotation points out, however, we should buy things as though we were getting nothing and had overcome a sense of possession. The passage “…buy as though they had no goods” has the same meaning as “Do work of all kinds with a mind that is void, and then to the voidness give all of the fruits.”

Ignorant people always have attachment in one form or another to everything that is or is not. As a result, desirable things are converted into causes of suffering. Good itself is transformed into suffering. Praise, fame, honor and the like are all turned into forms of suffering as soon as one tries to seize and hang on to them. Everything becomes unsatisfactory because of grasping and clinging. Whether good or evil, merit or sin, happiness or unhappiness, gain or loss–all dualistic concepts become causes of suffering whenever you are attached to one or the other.

When you are wise enough not to cling or be attached to any particular forms, you will no longer have to suffer because of these things. Good and evil, happiness and sufferings, merit and sin–all are an ordinary part of nature and naturally void. There is no suffering inherent in any of them.

(read more)


Vedanta Television

Finding lasting happiness. Applying the Bhagavad Gita to daily life. Learning about the history of Vedanta in the U.S. These are some of the topics covered at American Vedanta’s YouTube channel. We curate a list of spiritual videos that will help advance your spirituality and expand your mind. When wanting spiritual videos, give our YouTube channel a look.

We also recommend other resources such as Booksaudio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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