Detachment Beach
7-Week Zen Practice Period / The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
Week 6: "The Zen of Detachment"
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Week 6: The Zen of Detachment (20 min.) MP3
Transcript of a talk delivered by Brother ChiSing
Awakening Heart (Community of Mindful Living)
December 12, 2010 - Dallas, Texas

We're continuing our series on the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, with the sixth law, the Law of Detachment. Well, there are many things I would like to share about detachment tonight, so hopefully I will share only 20 minutes worth or less. I have a lot of things to share.

First of all, in the English language, every word has nuances and they have different meanings depending on the context and the definition one gives to it, right? The same is true of detachment. Which is why I prefer to use a different word, non-attachment. So you've got attachment, detachment and non-attachment. And according to the Buddha's teachings, two of them are extremes, and one of them is the true path. Attachment, which can lead to obsessive-compulsive craving and obsession, which of course then leads to suffering, that's one path, but then the other path is detachment, which can sometimes feel cold and indifferent, aloof. Which is why I like to use this third word, non-attachment, to mean the true meaning of detachment.

So even though Deepak Chopra uses the word the law of detachment, I think today it would be better to use the word the law of non-attachment. But I know what he means by the word. So if detachment is this cold, uncaring aloofness, almost aversive, then non-attachment is simply a heart full of caring and love and compassion and wisdom, but without controlling the outcomes. Without manipulating other people. Without trying or needing to have results exactly the way one wants. So the ability to be okay with whatever happens. You put your work out there, you put your word out there, you put your affirmation, your prayer, your meditation, your intention, and then you let go and allow, and witness and observe the unfolding of life with curiosity.

So last week we talked about the law of intention and desire, which is important, but that is always in the context of the law of non-attachment. So we put our intention into the universal consciousness, and then we let it go. But, by the way, to do this really, really well, you need to meditate, to get in touch with that first law, the law of pure potentiality, to go to the direct source within, the pure consciousness, because when you meditate and you get in touch with that, then true desires, true intentions, will come forth from that great heart of compassion and wisdom, and true nature, and then your human self can take that desire, apply it in the human realm, and then you put that intention into the soil of consciousness, and then you let it go. So because of meditation, you can be clear about what the true seed you want to plant is. Otherwise you plant things out of ego, rather than out of true nature. But that's okay, too, because you learn that way. That's what this whole universe is all about, learning. So we plant it, but we plant it gently, into the spaciousness. Not trying to control and manipulate, we make our intention, but then we put it into that spaciousness. And then we just watch with curiosity and wonder. Oh, how interesting, to see that unfoldment!

The Buddha taught teachings on love, and one of the four qualities of true love is equanimity, which is this non-attachment, this non-discrimination and this allowing, letting go, letting be quality. What are the other three qualities of love? They're called maitri, which means lovingkindness, friendliness; caruna, compassion, mudita, sympathetic joy, rejoicing in others' good fortune, and then upeksha, equanimity. Non-attachment. Why did the Buddha teach these four qualities as true love? Because they all need to be in balance with each other. And honestly, you can really subdivide into just two qualities. The first three are really the same, and then equanimity is the balancing factor. You see, the first three are simply different manifestations of the first lovingkindness, maitri. So it's really all just love. When lovingkindness meets someone who is in suffering, and responds to that suffering, that lovingkindness turns into compassion. So compassion is simply lovingkindness as it responds to suffering. And when lovingkindess meets the good fortune of someone, then that's joy, that's sympathetic joy. So sympathetic joy is simply lovingkindness as it meets someone's good fortune. You see, it's lovingkindness when it meets negativity, you call it compassion, when lovingkindness meets positivity, you call it sympathetic joy. So it's really just lovingkindness in its two different aspects, compassion and joy.

But what is equanimity? It's very different from these other three, but it's very necessary. One way to understand the relationship between these four, in a way for those of us who are parents, would be that let's say you have a child that's born, and you're so happy, and you want to give lots of good things to that child, right? That's lovingkindness. You just want to bless that child, want to give good things tot hat child. Then as that child grows up, you know, it gets its first scraped knee, falls off its bicycle, maybe a little bully bullies them in kindergarten, and they cry and they're suffering and they don't understand this crazy world that they've been born into, so that lovingkindness then turns into compassion, and we want to help relieve the suffering of that child.

And then as that child grows up, he or she maybe becomes a teenager and starts to like do competitions or play games and win awards, maybe their first piano recital or softball game or whatever, and they win or they get their first A plus or they win the spelling bee or something, and they're so happy! And you feel happy too. That's sympathetic joy in their wonderful new accomplishments. But then maybe they go off to start college or to go to work or to start a relationship, to leave home and live in their own place, and they have to lead their own lives now, and so then that's where the fourth quality comes in - equanimity, the ability to let go, the ability to allow your child to be the adult they now are. You've done all you can, and now it's up to them what they choose to do with their life. All the things you've given, you have to let them lead their life. And that's called equanimity, you see?

So what happens, though, when these qualities are not in balance? For example, what happens when love in the form of compassion, if you really care about someone, you know, you want to help them, right? And you just do all these things for them, and maybe you have a friend that no matter what you do they just keep suffering and they keep messing up and they keep making choices that are not so good for them. What can you do? You cannot keep enabling them in their literal or metaphorical addictions, addiction to wrong living or wrong thinking or wrongdoing or whatever. You can just give them your love but then you have to let them lead their life because, as it says in the Buddha's teachings, all beings are owners of their own karma.

This kind of goes back to one of the other spiritual laws, the law of karma. We have to respect the fact that each being has their own path, and if you try to live their life for them, you're doing them a disservice, and yourself a disservice, and the whole universe a disservice. Because while you're trying to live someone else's life for them, who's living it for you? Who's living your life for you? There's no one else to do it except you. So if you're not fully here and now, living your life the way it's meant to be because you're trying to like live other people's lives, there's no energy left for who you were meant to be in this universe, you see, so you have to let others be. So you can give your love, you can help in what way you can, and then respect that they need to make their own choices and decisions, and lead their own lives, and they have their own karma as well.

It's not always easy, I know, it's tough, especially with those we are very attached to, but it's important to learn how to have that spaciousness, even in a good relationship. True love needs space, right? I mean, if you really love someone, you aren't going to smother them, hopefully. To truly love them, you love them, you give love, you give kindness, you help with whatever suffering you need to be relieved, you rejoice with their joys, and you give them space, you know? You let them have -- there's a quality of spaciousness and allowing. You let them make their mistakes when they need to. You just - because you can't control everything. Because if you try to control everything that's no longer love. It's called something else, like co-dependence, or who knows, there's all sorts of words we can come up with these days.

But what about the opposite? What if you're just very - you think you're very equinamous, just letting go, letting be, but if there's no love with that, then it doesn't - it turns soon from equinamy to coldness, indifference, aloofness, aversion, and that's also not love. And that's why they need to go together, these four qualities, the three and the one. Equanimity. And going back to the first example of if you have too much of this love without equanimity to balance it, it's like if you see someone drowning. You want to help them. That's compassion. But if you don't know how to swim, it's not wisdom to jump into the water and try to save them in that particular way. Yes, it's noble of you to have that kind of compassion, but it's not wisdom, because what ends up happening is you both drown. So wisdom will try to find another way to help, rather than being drowned along with the suffering of others.

So we have to - especially all of us, because really, I consider all of us as bodhisattvas, beings on the path of enlightenment. I mean you wouldn't really be here if you weren't a bodhisattva, in my opinion. And that you're all bodhisattvas on your own. You come here every Sunday, to kind of get recharged, and to give each other recharge, and then you go back into your different pure lands, they may not feel or look like pure lands sometimes, but they are your pure lands, your Buddha fields of influence. Your school, your work, your family, your house. So you do your work. You come here to recharge and you go and do your work. To do our work, though, of love, you need equanimity. Otherwise we start drowning in the suffering of beings. Drowning in the suffering of others. Right? It's too much. It's overwhelming. But we want to help. That's why we're here. We are here to help, but to be the best help we must cultivate that equanimity. The ability to be non-attached, to have spaciousness and wisdom and inner strength. So yes love, but also yes equanimity. Both are important.

So think about love and equanimity in your own life. Are they in balance in every area of your life? Just mindfully investigate. For example, during meditation there was a lot of energy in the room, a lot of moving and shuffling and noises, but that is our practice, see? We come to a relative place of stillness and silence, so that we can see what's there. And it's not silence because it's not stillness. There's no such thing as perfect silence or perfect stillness. If you're looking for that go somewhere else. Well, actually there's no place you can go for perfect stillness or perfect silence. Because the whole universe is vibrating! Everything is moving, everything is vibrating with sound and sight. SO, what we mean by stillness is silence is coming to a relative place of that stillness and silence. A relative place of that spaciousness. But then we have to practice to let go, let go, let go into the real silence, and the real stillness. The true silence and the true stillness has nothing to do with physical silence, physical stillness. Because you can be deeply, truly silent and still while walking. You can be truly, deeply silent and still while chanting. Because its an inner quality of completely letting go, letting be, spaciousness, freedom, equanimity, true liberation and enlightenment. We can glimpse it from time to time because why? Because we already are it. So it's not that hard. If you already are it, you can experience it. It's just that we don't always feel it or experience it full time. But we already are it, which is why we can experience it form time to time. We are all already Buddhas. But our experience of that is that we are part time Buddhas working at becoming full time Buddhas. We are part time mindful practicing to become full time mindful. So that is our practice. To allow.

So next time next week when you come meditate with us or when you are meditating at home during the day, at home, see if you can just be okay with thoughts coming and going, can you be okay with sounds here and there, can you be okay with the body feeling a little fidgety. Allow, let be, let go. Just be with everything. Just as it is. With this childlike curiosity. Oh how interesting. And if you have a judgment thought, Oh goodness, that person is coughing, or that person was moving when I was trying to meditate, or that person opened the door, don't judge the judgment. Oh how interesting, this judgment, and then come back to the breath, to the spaciousness, you see? Because if you just judge the judgment, what happens is that you judge the judgment, and then you judge the judging of the judgment, and it just never stops.

Same thing with fidgeting. Just don't fidget. Just stop. That's all you do. Because once you give in to the fidgetiness, it never stops. I remember the first few years of my practice, every time I would move positions in my sitting, I would have to move again, thirty seconds later. And then again, and again, and again and again. But if you don't give in the first few times, eventually the fidgetiness starts to calm down by itself. I f you don't give in to the judging, the judging starts to calm down. But it does take practice, so it's okay. It's okay. That's why we're here. We're all cheerleaders for each other. We're cheerleaders. That's what a Buddha is, a cheerleader. Buddhas can't do it for you. They just cheerlead. You can do it! You can do it! You see. And some Buddha cheerleaders, some bodhisattva cheerleaders, have already found the white. To get your attention. And some are very quiet. And some are dressed in green, or black or white or red. So many Buddhas, so many bodhisattvas. How wonderful.

Thank you for being my Budhha, and letting me be your Buddha.


Transcribed by Jennifer Jonnson

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