Attachment & Letting Go

Just a small reminder to some people about attachment to material things. I found this useful and thought I would share. A reminder that as quickly as somethings come, they can be taken away.

The Zen Habits Guide to Letting Go of Attachments

I’ve been finding more and more that the Buddha had it right: pretty much all of our struggles, from frustrations to anxiety, from anger to sadness, from grief to worry, all stem from the same thing …

The struggles come from being too tightly attached to something.

When we’re worried, we are tightly attached to how we want things to be, rather than relaxing into accepting whatever might happen when we put forth our best effort. When we’re frustrated with someone, it’s because we’re attached to how we want them to be, rather than accepting them as the wonderful flawed human they are. When we procrastinate, we are attached to things being easy and comfortable (like distractions) rather than accepting that to do something important, we have to push into discomfort. And so on.

OK, if you’re ready to accept that being too attached, clinging too tightly, is the cause of our struggles … then the answer is simple, right? Just loosen the attachments. Just let go.

Easier said than done. Any of us who have tried to let go of attachments knows that it’s not so easy in practice. When our minds are clinging tightly, we don’t want to let go. We really, really want things our way.

So what’s the answer, then? In this short guide, we’ll look at a few practices to help with this.

Letting Go Practices
We can help dissolve these attachments with a few different practices:

Meditation. Meditation is simply sitting still and trying to pay attention to the present moment — whether that’s your breath, your body, or what’s around you right now. What you’ll find is that your mind runs away from the present moment, attaching to worries about the future, planning, remembering things in the past. In meditation, you practice letting go of these mini attachments, by noticing what your mind is doing and letting go, returning to the present moment. This happens again and again, and so you get good at it. It’s like muscle memory after doing it hundreds, thousands of times. You learn that whatever you were attached to is simply a story, a narrative, a dream. It’s not so heavy, just a bit of cloud that can be blown away by a breeze.

Compassion. In this meditation, you wish for an end to your suffering, or an end to the suffering of others. What happens is that this wish transforms you from being stuck in your attachment, to finding a warm heart to melt the attachment and find a way to ease it. You become bigger than your story, when you wish for your own suffering to end. And when you wish for others’ suffering to end, you connect yourself to them, see that your suffering is the same as theirs, understand that you’re in this together. What happens is that your attachments and story become less important, not such a big deal, as you connect with others in this way.

Interdependence. Try meditating not only on the wish for the suffering of others (and yourself) to end, but for others to be happy. All others, whether you like them or not. Again, through doing this, you start to see that you’re all connected in your suffering, and in your desire to be happy. You are not so separate from them. You’re not separate, but interdependence. This connection with others helps you to be less attached and more at ease with life.

Accepting. At the heart of things, attachment is about not wanting things to be the way they are. You want something different. That’s because there’s something about the present moment, about the person in front of you, about yourself, that you don’t like. By meditating, practicing compassion and interdependence, you can start to trust that things are OK just as they are. They might not be “ideal,” but they are just fine. Beautiful even. And you start to become more aware of your continual rejection of the present moment, and open up to the actuality of this moment instead. Over and over, this is the practice, opening and investigating the moment with curiosity, accepting it as it is.

Expansiveness. All of these practices result in a more expansive mind, that is not so narrowly focused on its little story of how things should be, not so focused on its small desires and aversions, but can see those as part of a bigger picture. The mind can hold these little desires, and much more. It’s a wide open space, like a deep blue ocean or dreamy blue sky, and the little attachments are just a part of it, but it can also see the suffering of others and their attachments, it can see the present moment in all its flawed glorious beauty, and be present with all of this at once. Practice this expansiveness right now.

The Zen Habits Method
The way to deal with attachments isn’t simple, and it takes practice.

Meditate daily, focusing on the breath for a couple of minutes every morning. See your suffering and your story and attachments, as you meditate. See this after meditation as well.

After a few weeks, add compassion meditation. Wish for your suffering to end, then expand it to others in your life, then to all living beings.

Learn to see your interconnectedness with others, and practice acceptance of the present moment exactly as it is, in little doses. Small steps. Practice expanding your mind to include these things and all other things in the present moment.

Then, when a difficult attachment arises in your daily life, see the suffering, see the attachment, and expand your mind beyond it, giving yourself compassion while seeing that you are bigger than this attachment. Let it be there like a little cloud, floating around in the wide expanse of your mind, and then lightly let it float away, rather than sinking yourself into it.

With practice, this method can result in contentment with the present, awesome relationships, and less procrastination and distraction.


How and Why to Meditate


Meditation is too often overlooked as a valuable form of self-improvement. If you’ve ever tried it, then you know how helpful it can be to the mind, body and spirit. If you haven’t tried it, then it is entirely possible you are carrying around way too much stress in your life that could eventually cause long-term physical damage. The threat of stress is real, and taking some time to clear your thoughts and focus on peacefulness is highly recommended, not just for your own private thoughts, but also for how you feel physically. But how do you meditate effectively, and why is it important to your continued development as a human being?

How to Meditate

The first thing you need to do when you get ready for meditation is find a private place, where you can de-stress and focus on anything but the demands of your day. Meditation requires a place of focus, but not necessarily silence. Some people prefer to play music or sounds of nature while they meditate. The key is finding what works with your personality. What relaxes you? Once you find the answer to that question, your thoughts will then become free enough to roam in a constructive and coherent manner. You want to build absolute and complete awareness both within and outside of yourself, and if the environment isn’t right, then that won’t be possible.

Once the environment is established, it’s time for you to run back through the events and the thoughts of what happened during your day. You need to bundle them all together as if boxing up Christmas decorations. Once you get them into the right container within your mind, it’s time to put them away until the time comes where you may need them again. It takes a little preparation and training, but gradually you learn to let the big things fall away, and that makes it much easier to de-burden yourself from the rest. Letting go of the past and the present and opening your thoughts to an absolute state of awareness is essential in the meditation process. More than essential, it is your actual endgame.

Once you get in to a routine of meditation time, you will become better at it, and your environment will start to take shape into the one that you wish for it to be. Perfect meditation does not happen overnight, but it does happen with the more routine you make it. And it is important to make it a routine. Why? Because it teaches you that health and wellness – and that means all forms of health, not just physical – are essential for long life and quality of life. Don’t take the practice for granted. – Kyle Quandel

The Bhavacakra Brief

The Bhavacakra or “Wheel of Life”  is a visual tool used by Tibetan Buddhists to represent the concept of Samsara.  Buddhists are firm believers of cause and karma, as well as birth, death and re-birth or reincarnation. Perhaps the meaning of this symbolic wheel can help others lead a more meaningful life.

In the center of the wheel lie the images represent the three poisons of life – ignorance, jealousy and aversion. These are the three sufferings which, Buddhists believe, keep humanity trapped in Samsara.   Samsara is the Buddhism concept of endless misery.  A person experiences Samsara when they fail to understand cause and effect.   In other words, the individual does not fully understand the consequences of his own deeds.  As a result, they are unable to free themselves from the “wheel of suffering.”  One analogy is to imagine an insect trapped in a jar; one is trapped in their own reality, regardless of their actions if they cannot fully understand what keeps them contained.Wheel of Life

The second layer of the wheel is a representation of Karma. Karma refers to the actions that spring from intentions. Intentions translate into thoughts, and thoughts lead to actions. Eventually, all actions lead to eventual consequences.  Whether the consequence is desirable or undesirable depends on the action. Buddhists firmly believe that one is responsible for one’s own destiny. That is to say, we are all responsible for the consequences of our own actions.

The third layer of the wheel is a representation of the six realms of samsara.  Namely, they are the God realm, the demi-God, the human, the animal, the hungry ghost, and hell. It is both purposeful and interesting to examine each realm as it related to one’s own self.

For example, the God realm is a place where beings are in a state of bliss or nirvana.  They are here, in this state, due to the positive karma that they have built up from their actions. Unfortunately, they neglect to work towards enlightenment. Soon their positive karma runs out and then they are born into lower realms. The jealous Gods are those who envy the higher Gods. They live a more pleasurable life when compared to humans, but they suffer from jealousy of the Gods.

Next, is the human realm, which we are all, obviously, familiar with.   In this realm, there is the possibility of enlightenment.   From this particular perspective, it is actually advantageous to be reborn as a human.  Unfortunately, most human beings spend their life time in the pursuit of materialistic rewards. The chances of most beings being reborn in a lower realm are very high.   Once entered into a lower realm, it takes many life-times to accumulate enough merit to be born as a human again.

The forth layer of the wheel represents the twelve Nidanas, known as ‘chain of causation’. There is an aggressive demon-like figure holding this wheel, and here it represents impermanence.

Finally, there is a moon at the top of the Bhavacakra, and it represents liberation.   In other words, it is possible to be liberated from samsara – the wheel of suffering.   Buddha points to the moon to indicate the possibility of freeing oneself.

This is just a very brief explanation of the Wheel of Life, as Buddhists see it.  I very much suggest that if you’re interested, you do more research and explore this for yourself through the links within.  I’ve taken care to make sure these are credible & helpful links.  One of my personal favorites is an interactive version of wheel, which can be found here.

Insight Meditation Center

No Mud, No Lotus

Considering the difficult few months that life has presented, I found this particular teaching incredibly relevant. I’ve been a fan of Tara’s for a few months but this one really hit home.

I’m often traveling, so it’s convenient for me to download the audio versions to my iPhone. With this specific episode, there was a full emotional breakthrough – on a Greyhound bus headed to DC.

I related, cried – sobbed even, understood & evolved. Surely the other passengers on the bus were wondering what psychological trauma I was experiencing.   Nonetheless, Tara’s prior teachings, together with this specific dharma talk brought about real truth, understanding & awareness.  No one else mattered.

The lotus needs mud – and through this … well listen to Tara explain it.  You can check out here other teachings here.

– Kyle Quandel

Buddhist Wish of Noble Sympathy

In trying to find the words to express my deep sympathy for a friend’s loss, I came across this piece. There no more nobler truth or wish & a mantra to live by.

May I be happy, may I maintain my happiness & live without any enmity.
May all beings be successful and happy: May they be of joyful mind, all beings that breathe & have life.

Let all beings enjoy safety, contentment, ease & bliss.
Let no one deceive another, let no one be harsh in speech.
Let no one by anger or hatred wish ill to his neighbor.

Even as a mother, at the risk of her own life, guards and protects her only child, so with a boundless heart of compassion, I venerate all living beings by permeating the entire universe with sympathy, above, beneath & all around without limit— compassion for the sorrows of others, immeasurable joy in their joys.

Thus I cultivate an infinite Goodwill toward this whole world.

During all my waking hours I treasure this thought that this very way of caring is indeed the truly noblest behavior in this whole wide world.

Thus shall I, by stilling pointless discussions & controversies, by acting blamelessly, be gifted with tranquility & true insight.

Thus shall I subdue sense-pleasure urge & never again know involuntary rebirth.

May this inspire all beings to fulfill the conditions leading to Nirvana.
May all beings be thus utterly liberated & released from suffering.
May all beings thus escape the dangers of ageing, disease and death.


The Point & Click Protest; Masses Rise

Perhaps you remember Sandra Bullock in a movie called The Net, back in 1995? No one believed that the technological age would make it possible to do everything from the comfort of your home, even then. But now, you don’t even have to leave your living room to write your congressman, boycott a company or sign a petition. Everyone with a computer and internet access can protest and even set off some serious fire storms just by posting on social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, et al.

In the past year alone, we have seen civil unrest around the world, initiated and largely marketed in the social media. The movement, as it has become, is so powerful that today Time Magazine named “The Protestor” as their Person of the Year 2011. The truth is, without social media, and the interconnectedness it affords us, none of us might have ever have known what uprisings, along with atrocities, were occurring all over the world. The television media picked up on the movement only after it became apparent that it was a force in the social media; a serious shift from prior times.

You can ban a video on Youtube if you feel it is offensive or politically incorrect. That, in and of itself, is a form of protest. People are using their ability to connect with others via the internet to build momentum for causes and issues that they deem most important.

Occupy Wall Street (perhaps more commonly known as its hash tag #OWS) is rooted all over the United States largely due to point and click protesting. Even the major banks cannot deny the power of point and click protest having had to rescind plans to increase fees after many of their customers withdrew all of their money and transferred it to community banks and credit unions in protest. For weeks, Bank of America was inundated with emails, calls and petitions against their proposed monthly debit card fees. One woman, Molly Katchopole, began a petition on and within a short time, over 300,000 people had signed, emailed instantly sent their complaint to BOA top-brass, effectively having them withdraw the fee (with other banks quickly following suit).

There are several places on the world wide web that give step-by-step instructions on how to initiate and successfully mount a protest campaign. One such site, will give you a look into what works, and what has not been so successful in other protests.

Let’s face it. We live in a time where almost everyone is dissatisfied about one thing or another. In 2011, we have the forum and the following to successful change whatever we will with the click of a mouse. It is about knowing what your rights are, knowing how to assert yourself legally and having the gumption to get up and do it. You don’t even have to work hard, just smart.

: Kyle Quandel

Vegetarian Buddhists; A Closer Look

Contrary to common perception, Buddhists are not absolute vegetarians. To set the facts straight, some Buddhists are practicing vegetarians while others are not. The stand on vegetarianism differs from sect to sect and from one Buddhist to another. When you are wondering if there is a necessity to observe vegetarianism when one wants to become a Buddhist, you will most likely get a conditional answer.

Records will show that historical Buddha was not a vegetarian. Based on some of his earliest teachings, he did not make any categorical prohibition of meat consumption to his disciples. The truth is that if meat is served to a Buddhist monk, he is supposed to partake it. The disciples of Buddha are supposed to receive and eat the graces served them, and these include meat.

Not All Buddhists are Vegetarians

The First Precept of Buddhism commands its disciples not to commit any killing. However, meat consumption has never been explicitly considered as a consequence of killing. In fact, there is no mention in the scriptures prohibiting meat eating. This is what can be gleaned from the Pali scriptures and it is clear that Buddha did not make any prohibition on meat consumption and this applies even to monks.

In fact, there was even a clear opposition by Buddha to the suggestion from Devadatta to abstain from meat eating. In the modern societies of Theravada, a bhikkhu who practices vegetarianism with the sole intention of obtaining positive impression of their ascendant spiritual superiority are deemed infringing on several monastic rules.

However, Buddha has clearly manifested his opposition to the consumption of the flesh of an animal that is deemed butchered mainly for the monks’ benefit. This particular rule specifically applies to monastics, although it can also be applied and followed by those who are considered devout Buddhists.

Buddhism and Vegetarianism

There are 2 schools of thought about vegetarianism in Buddhism – those who subscribe to it and those who do not.

Vegetarianism was considered a part of the early traditions of Buddhism. In fact, scholars and devout followers of Buddhism agree that Buddha was not a vegetarian. Buddha subsisted on the alms that he received or graces served to him after getting invited to the homes of his believers. In both instances, he consumed whatever is given or served to him. Prior to his enlightenment, Buddha actually experimented with different diets and these included dishes that are meat-free. However, Buddha eventually gave up the idea of meatless diet primarily because of his belief that it does not have any positive effect on his spiritual development.

This is what is being emphasized by Nipata Sutta, when it declared that impurity is caused by immorality and not by meat consumption. The Buddha was in fact mentioned in several instances to be consuming meat broth in order to treat various illnesses. In some cases, however, he even went to the point of advising monks to refrain from consuming meat for practical reasons. This could only mean that other types of diets are also acceptable.

Kyle Quandel is a student of Buddhism and spirituality, as well as lifelong vegetarian. Read more articles and publications of Kyle Noble Quandel.