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Featured Attachment to Views

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Left Coast, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast He/Him
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    *DISCUSSION THREAD*

    As many people are aware, the Buddha taught his followers that to obtain personal peace, or freedom from suffering, they need to free themselves from all forms of attachment. People commonly identify their attachments as being to physical or sensory things, e.g. food, sex, money, praise, and so on.

    However, one of the early texts of the Buddha's teachings, The Book of Eights, contains an additional warning: a warning against attachment to views, ie opinions, beliefs, or doctrines. Becoming too entrenched in one's views, especially religious views, is a fast track to either become self-righteous in attempting to prove one's beliefs to others (or oneself), or to become despondent or angry when a view that is so deeply held becomes upturned by someone else in a debate.

    Now, surely none of the sage members of RF have such an attachment any longer. :) ;)

    In seriousness, I think we all have some measure of experience here.

    What has your experience been with attachment to views? Have you found yourself too attached to a view in the past? What happened? Do you recognize a view you're too attached to now? What has been the result? How has your approach to views changed over time, if at all?

    Try to keep examples personal rather than pointing the finger at others you think this might apply to, please.
     
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  2. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    I realise I have a vice-like grip to some views. The best I can do is to try to maintain an awareness of that, to see how it can have negative impacts upon me and / or others - and maybe learn from that.
     
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  3. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Hmm.

    The thing is, a person's views are part of their identity. It is part of who and what you are, and we can't be anything other than who and what we are. To me it's less an issue of being attached as it being a fundamental part of one's nature that is impossible to deny. Attachment to one's views in a sense is analogous to attachment to one's bodily viscera - it is part of who you are, what makes you function, and you will die without it.

    That's not to say all views work this way, but those that are religiously-held (by that I mean deeply-held, central values, core of one's worldview and way of life and living) certainly are. It's not impossible to shift that, but it's something to be done with great care and mindfulness to avoid destroying oneself and doing harm.
     
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  4. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    Indeed, we cannot try to improve ourselves or our world without caring about stuff - and that of course means having views. Buddhism is not nihilism.
     
  5. Left Coast

    Left Coast He/Him
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    That is a fascinating perspective, Q. It reminds me of another Buddhist idea, not-self. People have a sense that they have some core, unchanging "self" that is "who they really are." Buddhists reject that whole idea. Our "selves," which as you mention can certainly include views, are temporary, and can and do change over time.

    That said, you're certainly on the money that the more deep-seated a view is, the more difficult it is to uproot (which is why the Buddha's suggestion is not to be attached to them in the first place).
     
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  6. Meerkat

    Meerkat Well-Known Member

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    And of course there is such a thing as Right View in Buddhism.
     
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  7. Secret Chief

    Secret Chief Meghalayan Ape

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    Clever bugger. :p
     
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  8. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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    The Buddha & I have argued about this. It got
    heated at times, with him once casting the stink
    eye towards me. In retribution, I raised an eyebrow.

    IMO, eliminating suffering isn't for everyone.
    Some attachments are worth risking a little woe.
    The trick is to consider the costs & benefits of
    one's choices.
     
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  9. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Yes, I thought I remembered the no-self being an aspect of Buddhist traditions as well. In that context, it makes a lot of sense to disarm the power of views and attachment to them, as that would be part and parcel with attachment to the concept of self.

    There are elements of my own tradition that strike a similar cord - a recognition that "self" is not a constant and that there is no "self" without "other." In the eternal now one can only be what one is, but past-self and future-self are another matter. And now-self, past-self, and future-self all hold no meaning without surrounding context that shapes who and what all selves are. It's a perspective that takes a few pages from the sciences - which recognize how fundamental change/transformation is to the universe - and especially ecology, where interdependency is front and center.
     
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  10. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Veteran Member
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    I take all of Buddha's comments with a grain of salt. Why? First of his stories and claims are full of miracles. Secondly we aren't supposed to take those claims and miracles at face value. Third, I'm not a Buddhist, but that is only the third reason in order of importance. When a Buddhist tells me they believe in gods and in demons I take that with a grain of salt, because to me either they are speaking figuratively or they have not truly grasped the conceptual purposes of the information. Such is the esteem I have for my own opinions that I am able to discount theirs.

    Suppose one day I open my front door, and instead of seeing the ground and the normal view I am greeted with blackness and stars. The world is gone, and only I, my little place, and the stars remain. How am I supposed to deal with that? I can't. I think there are limits to how unattached people can be.

    I'm a one-track kind of person. If I'm thinking about something it tends to bend what I'm reading towards itself. I've been asked before in a forum "Are you able to discuss anything else besides that?" (neti-neti) What a cold wakeup that was. Sometimes a compelling thought is like a gravitational star, and we cannot get away from it easily.

    I see other people do this all the time. Its harder to see when I'm doing it.
     
  11. Cooky

    Cooky Veteran Member

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    I used to be really suspicious and hateful of Freemasonry. It was the fact that they're keeping "secrets" from people that caused suspicion in me, and still to this day, I sort of resent their secrets... I'm not sure if Hiram Abiff deserved to die or not, but why's it so important to hold secrets anyway?

    Basically, my view has historically been that Freemasonry is evil at it's core.
     
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  12. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    Just want to start by noting that while this may sound "wise" or something to some, there is no real way to display that this is, by default, correct. Do we have a great many examples of people who have achieved this and can we measure their happiness in some way? Point being - this is pretty fast and loose territory, and I don't think it can just be stated that "this is the case." And questions of "Hey - have you done this yet?" could easily be met with a reply of "Why?" and the person doing the asking should rightfully be stumped when trying to formulate a reply without turning to "Because Buddha said....".

    I have attachments to my kids, my wife, gravity and oxygen. Are there particular things that count in this idea of "freeing [yourself] from all forms of attachment?" How do I know what's on the list when the word "all" is so casually used?

    I used to believe that homosexuality was contrary to nature. I would debate the point, and remember using as a point in my favor (at that time) that if everyone were homosexual from the start, the human race would not have continued. I ended up throwing that view away as I came across more evidence and ideation that homosexuality is just a byproduct of natural tendencies. Things like the idea that the genetic processes supporting evolution allow for a broad range of diversity - especially so among humans, who have almost no natural selective pressures (outside of massively detrimental things like fatal birth defects) in modern times. This diversity could easily include individuals who were inclined to behave in various ways - almost like nature "trying out" various configurations in case one "sticks" better in current conditions. Not that I believe "nature" to be cognizant, just anthropomorphizing here. At any rate - I'd like to think that all of my views are malleable, pending compelling evidence being brought to bear to support new ideas being presented.
     
  13. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    I learned a big lesson when I was in my 20's. At the time, Adele Davis had published books on nutrition. One I remember had a vitamin or mineral listed as good for whatever ailed you.

    I preached from the holy book of Adele Davis to all suffering humanity who crossed my door for a time.

    Many years of marriage continued my education on dealing with that disease.

    Discovering the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant took the 'vaccine' into religious grounds.

    This does not mean of course that I'm 100% immune from the OP questions, but it sure has helped.
     
  14. Left Coast

    Left Coast He/Him
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    This is all useful information, and I certainly agree that it's difficult to imagine being completely unattached to anything.

    One thing I will mention is that the earliest Buddhists texts are actually surprisingly devoid of any discussion of the supernatural. In fact, taking a position on such matters is exactly what the Buddha cautions against in The Book of Eights. Buddhist stories that include demons and ghosts and so on are later developments of the tradition.
     
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  15. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

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    When I found out I had to move to the
    USA I was one sulky angry teenager.

    My brliefs about the country were very
    negative and unrealistic.
    After a time, that turned around.

    I"ve returned to HK, the place well known to be
    best and most desirable place to live.

    Turns out it isn't quite that, it definitely
    is more difficult for me here.

    Took me a while to admit its not quite
    as I had convinced myself it is.
     
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  16. Meerkat

    Meerkat Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes I'm quite attached to my views, which can lead to conflict with others. Sometimes I'm more laid back, and opinions are just opinions - they don't define who I am.
     
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  17. Left Coast

    Left Coast He/Him
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    You make a number of excellent points here, AVM. First, I agree (and honestly, I think Siddhartha would agree) that one should not accept anything he said simply because he said it. As I recall there's a sutta where's he's reported to have explicitly advised against that.

    I think there also should be some clarification to "attachment" as well. When the Buddha cautioned against attachment, I don't think he meant we'd ever stop needing to breathe air to live, for example. Attachment is more of a psychological state, akin to greed or clinginess. I'm confident someone more versed in Buddhist philosophy could explain the term in a more technically precise way, and I'm sure you can also look such things up yourself. But that's the idea.

    In terms of evidence, the Buddha's advice is pragmatic: try it. See what happens, psychologically, when you become less attached to things. I can say, for myself, that becoming more mindful through meditation has helped me be more calm and less emotionally reactive to the events of my life.
     
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  18. Meerkat

    Meerkat Well-Known Member

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    I guess if you don't identify strongly with an opinion, then it doesn't feel like a personal attack when somebody disagrees with it.
     
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  19. Left Coast

    Left Coast He/Him
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    That has been my (limited) experience. I think being less personally attached to our opinions helps us be more objective about them (similar to our emotions). I still have plenty of attachments to my own views, though. Stubborn people like me have a hard time conceding when we're wrong. :p
     
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  20. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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    An alternative is to not be threatened by challenges
    to one's opinions. They pose no threat. And if one
    is open to changing one's opinions, the challenges
    are useful.
     
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