Toward friends, attachment rages like a river;
Toward enemies, hatred blazes like fire.
Therefore it is the practice of Bodhisattvas to give up that home,
Where the darkness of stupidity, of forgetting what to accept and reject, prevails.
- the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva. Verse 2.*
Attachment and hatred. These are things that can cause us a lot of harm. We hold on tightly to the things we want and we try hard to push away the things we don’t want. Sometimes in Buddhism we talk about a concept called the three poisons. These are usually called attachment, aversion, and ignorance. But they have a few different names. It seems like that’s what we’re talking about here with attachment, hatred, and stupidity.
These are said to be the three feelings that cause us the most suffering. But in this case, we’re talking about people so I’ll limit our discussion to that. We are attached to people we like and we are averse toward people we don’t like. Sure, that makes sense.
I can understand easily why hatred is bad. It consumes us. It steals our joy. It makes us do awful things we wouldn’t normally want to do.
But what about attachment? This is a tough thing to think about.
In Way of the Bodhisattva, Shantideva says:
Beings who are themselves impermanent
Are greatly attached to that which is also passing.
This is our reminder that we can’t hold onto anything, even people. Eventually all things pass away. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take delight in our loved ones as well. But we need to think clearly. If you’ve ever been betrayed by someone you loved, if you’ve ever ignored red flags in a potential partner you’re interested in…that’s attachment clouding your judgment. We want unclouded judgment.
So what’s all this about giving up home?
There are some different ways to think about this. I like to think it means we should broaden our horizons. We don’t have to do anything just because it’s what we’ve always done. Maybe our home can be the baggage we’re carrying.
You are not your history. You are not what has happened to you. You aren’t your family or your tribe either. You aren’t even your opinions and beliefs. You are so much more. You are the sky and all this others stuff is just the weather. We can put…