Sensual pleasure are like salt water:
The more you indulge, the more thirst increases.
Abandon at once those things which breed clinging attachment.
This is the practice of bodhisattvas.
– Bodhisattva (Gyelsay) Togmay Zangpo
(Verse #21 Of The Thirty-Seven Practices Of Bodhisattvas)
You may wonder, “I’m attached to having good food. Does this mean I should stop eating? That would be crazy!” Clearly, we need food and clothes and medicine and shelter. As social creatures, we have friends and relatives. A healthy relationship – one free from attachment – with all these things is important. Attachment is what is to be abandoned, because that emotion is a troublemaker. However, sometimes it’s very difficult to abandon clinging when we’re near the things to which we’re extremely attached because our mind is not yet trained in other ways of relating to these things. “Abandon at once those things which breed clinging attachment” means take some space and some distance from these things so that attachment doesn’t flare up and overwhelm us.
As we do so, we realize that the things that we were so attached to that we thought we couldn’t live without, we can live very well without. In fact, our mind is more peaceful when it’s free of attachment, clinging, and craving, as well as the worrying and fear that come from being attached to external things. Genuine Dharma understanding impacts how we live. When we realize that we use such an unfair portion of the world’s resources, when we feel interconnected with other living beings, these understandings will affect what we think about when we get into our car to drive somewhere. If we care about the environment, we will try to carpool or use public transportation. Or, when the urge comes to buy something that we don’t really need, we stop to ask ourselves, “Do I really need it? Maybe the one I have is okay.”
When we understand that the more we indulge, the more the thirst increases, when we understand that we use an unfair share of the world’s resources, the more we create suffering for others and enemies for ourselves, it is bound to impact our life. We will feel compelled to change our lifestyle. This doesn’t mean we have to effect a huge change immediately. It may be easier to start with small changes and gradually increase. By doing so, we will know, through our own experience, that simplicity brings more peace of mind.
Don’t Believe Everything You Think: Living With Wisdom And Compassion