We are angry, because we pay attention to that situation. We must try to abandon the habit of paying attention to something. Because of attachment to be so, we are happy, we are sad, we are angry, we feel sorry; it is because of paying attention to that object. If we pay attention to what we are doing there might be suspicion or doubt: “am I right,” or, “am I wrong?” It is because of using with grasping. We are grasping to the action, to the cause, to the effect, grasping to one of our actions. We can think, we can speak, and we can listen. We are doing with attachment. Attachment means we cannot abandon thinking, we cannot abandon listening, and we cannot abandon speaking. We understand the action to do, which is not complete. The actions are necessary to be done, then to be abandoned. Everything and every action are necessary to be abandoned. If we do not understand we won’t be able to abandon the action. If we are not satisfied with someone, it is because of paying attention to that person. It is because of attachment for doing so. Whatever happens, good or bad is to be experienced- only, not to be rejected nor to be attached. Not to be misunderstood as being reality or really important. The Truth is Ever New Impermanent Nature.
To know the Truth, we must be able to do what we should do and abandon doing what we shouldn’t do. We can think about the past but we must think without attachment for thinking, without attachment for the past. We can hope for the future but we must not be attached in the action of hoping and we must also not be attached to the future. We must not be attached to the present. The practice of detachment is abandoning the centering on something or someone. Stop paying attention to someone. Stop paying attention to something. If we think about someone, someone is in the mind. If we think about something, something is in the mind. We understand that someone is true, something is true. This is wrong. We must be able to remove something or someone from the mind. We must be mindful of each of our physical, verbal and mental actions. If we are mindful, we will know the present action, the present happening of the action, and then we must try to abandon the habit of paying attention to that action. Because of attachment to something, when we are mindful we think of mindfulness as being something. We are misusing the action of mindfulness with the idea of something or someone: “my action,” “someone,” or “I” is mindful, “this is my action of mindfulness.” That wrong understanding is controlling or is involved in whatever we do. This is doing with attachment.
To be doing-only or to follow the Middle Way we must remove the idea of something or someone from our mind, from our action. We should not think about “am I right?” or “am I wrong?” We should not think about “am I doing right?” nor “am I doing wrong?” We should not think about ourselves, “Am I able to follow the Middle Way or not?” It is necessary to abandon the habit of thinking about someone. If we can abandon that habit, then we can think about someone.
Without attachment our action will be doing-only. Now, we are Buddhists, so we must be able to be monks and nuns, to be permanent meditators. We should think like this. If we cannot do it, it is because of attachment to our family, to the life of lay people. Because of attachment to your work, you cannot do good deeds all the time. We all must lose our life, our belongings; it is very sure but, we rarely prepare for this situation. We are not ready to die. We are not ready to stop our work. It is because of attachment. Attachment to our life, attachment to our family, attachment to our work. Attachment to our home. So whatever we do, we are doing with attachment because we don’t try to abandon our actions.
We don’t dare to lose our life. We dare not to lose our belongings. We dare not to lose our work. This is why when we meditate we are grasping to our practice. We are grasping the life of a meditator. We are grasping to the teacher. We are grasping our experience. If we meditate we will also have experience, which is also not to reject nor to attach. This experience is not to be grasped as mine or as yours. It is to experience-only. We might understand or not understand. This is also not to be liked or disliked. We must try to be free from dislike. We must understand to do-only, to know-only, to experience-only and to use-only. Not to grasp understanding as mine or yours. Not to reject nor to attach.
There is a lot of attachment for human beings. This is why meditation only is not enough. Mindfulness alone is not enough. If you have little attachment, if you meditate, you cannot miss the right way, the Middle Way. If there is strong attachment, we need to detach. The practice of detachment is when you meditate you must not pay attention to the time, to the place, to the method. It might be good or bad. You must try to abandon both situations. This is the practice of meditation. There are a lot of meditators. Paying attention to someone or one meditator is because of attachment.
The Truth is not someone, not something. Someone or something is to use-only, not to be thought of as reality. We must meditate and we must be able to abandon paying attention to someone. It is necessary to abandon the habit of paying attention to someone or something. If you can abandon, there will be less and less attachment. Without attachment you can pay attention to someone, to something. When you meditate you must understand that you are one of the meditators. Whatever happens you must understand that it is to experience-only, not your own experience; you must not grasp to the experience, you must not grasp to the practice, you must be mindful but you must try to stop paying attention to your present action of mindfulness.
Most of the people cannot detach from someone or something. This is why they are thinking about what to do, about where to go, thinking about somewhere, thinking about something. “Who is right, who is wrong.” Because of attachment to someone we are always thinking about one (person) after another. Because of attachment to something we are always thinking about one thing after another: “What to do?” “What is right or what is wrong?” It is because we cannot abandon this action. We cannot abandon this action, which is why we are doing with attachment. We understand that we must eat, we must sleep, we must learn, but we rarely understand that we must be able to abandon eating. We must be able to abandon sleeping, abandon learning. It is necessary to do and to abandon also all the actions because of not understanding this, we have strong attachment for eating, strong attachment for sleeping. That is why we are living for the food.
We don’t want to die because we want to eat, we want to sleep. We want to do what we want to do. That is because of attachment for the food, for sleeping, for the works.
Mindfulness with detachment is, you must understand, to do-only, to use-only, to know-only and to experience-only. Try to do all good deeds. Try to abandon all evil things, and try to keep the mind clean and pure. Sometimes it might be easy, sometimes difficult. Sometimes you might understand, sometimes not. Sometimes you might want to do, sometimes not. You must not pay attention to what is happening in the mind or in the body. Just keep on doing what is necessary to do. And try to be able to do. Doing- only is how we should do. What we should do is doing good deeds, abandoning unnecessary actions, keeping the mind clear and clean.
An excerpt from the book “The Practice of Detachment” by Sayadaw U Ottamasara