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Letting Go

Updated on September 19, 2014

Many of us believe that the only way to be happy is in getting what we want. Pleasant events happen and we want more of it and unpleasant events happen and we want to get rid of it. This is deeply conditioned in us. To some extent we do get happiness out of getting what we want, however it does not last due to the impermanence of things in life. Things are constantly changing in the world. We spend so much of our time trying to arrange our world in a way the we think will bring us happiness. It could be having success, having a good relationship, having a certain car or a certain amount of money; any number of things.

We chase after having the things we want and push away things we don’t want. This exhausts us. It should be clear that you can’t always have what you want, but we have been conditioned into thinking having what we want is happiness. This idea of having what we want to be happiness causes us to cling to ideas such as I have to be successful to be happy, I have to this relationship to be happy, or I have to have this amount of money to be happy. I clung to the idea I have to have a relationship in order to be happy. Without it I did not feel whole. I needed a relationship to be happy. Looking at it from I need instead of I want caused me much suffering. The suffering was around the thought that a relationship is necessary to be happy which I now see as wrong view. I really did believe that having a relationship was going to make me happy. My focus was on getting married, having someone to be there for me, and eventually having kids. I wanted this so bad and thought that once attained I would be happy. Chasing after this idea I exhausted myself. As soon as I let go if that idea I felt a sense of freedom. I realized that happiness can be here now, and our own minds cause a lot of our suffering. Not only did I realize happiness can be now but I realized that I am connected to everything. I no longer feel empty. How can we cling to things when everything is impermanent? This truth will open our eye and help us accept what IS happening.

Having the idea that we have to have something to be happy will lead us to unhappiness because of the fact that not everything we want will come about. We look for ways to construct our world in which we are praised, acknowledged, have status, and good relationships. We believe that this is the only way to happiness. This is how our society sets it up for us to see. If I could just have that I would be happy is what we think. This view of happiness is a trap because as mentioned before it is impossible to construct the world exactly how we want all the time. When we get into this space of constructing our world we blame ourselves and believe that we are failing when we don’t get what we want instead of saying of course it is not possible for me to have my way with everything. When we start to see how much clinging and craving affects us and causes us suffering we will begin to let go and become free. If we can change our view on how to attain happiness it could eliminate much of the self created pain we have.

If we could just let go and look at the moment as it is we will probably see that we have a lot to be happy about! Even being grateful that we have good health, a full tummy and family around us can make us happy. What you think is your worst day could be somebodys best day. Take time and reflect on the things in your life that you are grateful for. Realize that everything does not have to be a certain way for happiness to come about. Happiness comes from being generous, kind, and compassionate. This will give you a deep sense of happiness which is long lasting. Happiness does no come from outside, it comes from the inside. The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness.


The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths can also help us to stop clinging. It provides the truth about the nature of life. I will be able to talk more in depth on this topic in another hub but for now here they are.

The Four Noble Truths

  • The truth of suffering (Life is suffering): This is meant to be understood. The Buddha says there are 3 kinds of suffering; Dukkha due to pain, Dukkha due to change, and Dukkha due to existence. Dukkha is suffering, defilements, stress, anxiety, discontentment, etc.

  • The truth of the cause of suffering (There will always be suffering): This is meant to be abandon.

  • The truth of the cessation of suffering (There is a way out of suffering): This is meant to be realized.

  • The truth of the path (The eightfold path): This is meant to be developed.


Four Kinds of Attachment

Attachment is clinging. There are four types of attachment. The first is attachment to Sensual attachment which is clinging to the six sense, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or mental images of the past, present, or future that arise in the mind. The next kind of attachment is attachment to opinions and views. We think certain things should be this way or that way. The third attachment is attachment rituals and the last is attachment to the idea of self. We are all connected and no one is independent. Everything depends on other factors. Even getting a job there are lots of causes and conditions for you to have attained the job. Someone could have told you about it or you had to look it up in the internet where someone had posted the position and then you had to go to an interview where someone had to decide if you were fit for the job.

This article points out how our craving and clinging causes us unhappiness. The view of attaining happiness through having what we want will lead us to craving and clinging which then leads to suffering. Learn to let go of having everything our way. You can find happiness here and now, without looking at the future or the past but right now in this moment.

This article talks more about craving and clinging from a buddhist perspective. A lot of my knowledge comes from studying buddhism. Perhaps some of the ideas buddhism offers you could adopt. This is not to convert you to another religion but to simply give wisdom to others. I hope this helps to create a better understanding.

Dharma Talk

© 2014 Gabrielle Banks

How has clinging and craving come about in your life?

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