Wednesday, October 24, 2007

attachment and resistance

Gautama Buddha once said: "i teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering." and what causes this suffering? he answers this question in his Four Noble Truths: "the origin of suffering is attachment."

i’ve been considering my words recently that resistance is the cause of stress, always the only cause of stress (see post on stress). i’ve given this message often while teaching stress management but only now have i considered its connection to the Buddha’s words. while “resistance” and “attachment” sound like two very different things, it seems to me the Buddha and i are saying something similar. i am saying the “resistance to letting go” of something (which is attachment) as well as the “resistance to accepting” something (resisting something we believe we do not want so we are attached to an opposing action) are always and only the cause of stress.

resistance is not the natural order of the Universe, not the natural flow. and when we practice resistance, we suffer stress.

photography by permission
cindy lee jones


ashok said...

i understand. however, why do we want to get rid of stress? stress is fun at times. else it would be pretty bland, no?

diana christine said...

ashok ~ you are right. life would be bland, perhaps even meaningless, without stress in some form. what we do seek, however, is an understanding of the source of stress, and we seek to be without suffering.

They call him James Ure said...

Great post.

Beth said...

I agree with you that resistance is the source of stress, and that identifying what we're resisting can be hard but it's crucial. What about when we're in a stressful situation caused by conflict between two good things, two things that require our love, but we can't figure out how to do both? For example, following a death in our family, both my father and my husband needed me, but I couldn't be in both places. Both of them were suffering, and so was I. I found all I could do was to tell myself I was doing my best to love them both and to love myself, and to try to gently let go of the guilt I felt and the guilt that was being laid on me by one or the other of them. But it wasn't a straightforward situation. Do you have any thoughts on this?

diana christine said...

Hi James ~ thank you so much for visiting and for your kind comment. I look forward to continued discussions with you. I so very much enjoy following your Buddhist blog.

diana christine said...

Hi Beth ~ it does seem to get pretty complex at times.

I would like to say first of all that sometimes resistance is rational or seemingly justified, that sometimes resistance is sane. I am not opposed to all resistance but I offer it as the true source of stress.

When your husband and your father both needed you, you were resistant to the possible perception of letting one of them down (I say "perception" because it would not be truth). You were so right to tell yourself you were doing your best to love them both and yourself. Any guilt you felt came from the mis-perception that you were not living up to that commitment to love them, and, I believe, any guilt you felt came from the fear that you were not enough for them.

I think guilt is a thief and a liar. I believe we have a responsibility to our own mis-steps, but guilt is not truth.

Thank you for your presence, and for making me take a deeper look at what I am pondering and considering.