Detached vs Involved

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Digger
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Detached vs Involved

Post by Digger »

I’d like to hear your opinions on the following – I think we can all agree that being detached is a goal to attain. And compassion is a goal to attain. But where do you draw the line when it comes to getting involved? If you see a person or animal suffering, do you (a) observe, remain detached, have compassion but not do anything to help? Or (b) do you physically get involved in helping? Would you say that a monk would do “a” and a Buddhist layman would do “b”? Maybe an example would be a Buddhist is meditating on a beach. A short distance away someone is in the water having trouble staying afloat. Do you sit and do nothing? Go help? Or bigger than just one situation, do you aim to live your life with the goal of being completely detached and separated, or aim to do your best to make things better for others while trying to remain detached following the Buddhist path? Thanks in advance for your responses.
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bodom
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by bodom »

We detach from greed, hatred and delusion not from generosity, loving kindness and wisdom.

:anjali:
This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don’t cling to it. Whether it’s like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty... Don’t try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That’s all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither ‘us’ nor ‘them’. None of them are worthy of clinging to.

- Ajahn Chah
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bodom
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by bodom »

This story from Gil Fronsdal I thought relevant:
There was once a monk who was known for his relaxed and trusting nature. No matter what was happening the monk would smile. If circumstances were challenging the monk would say, "If we can accept how things are and keep a positive attitude, everything we need will unfold on its own."

Once when the monk was on a month long retreat in a hermitage deep in the forest, he witnessed a remarkable interaction between a deer and a tiger. The deer, injured, came stumbling into the clearing in front of the hermitage. Some time later, a tiger wandered into the clearing and saw the wounded deer. The monk held his breath, convinced that the tiger would surely kill and eat the deer. The deer, too, was clearly worried. But as it could no longer walk, the deer accepted its fate, lying very still in the grass. To the mnonks surprise the tiger spent the next few days standing guards over the deer until the deer was well enough to wander off again on its own.

The monk was elated at this site as it seemed to validate his idea that if we could only accept whatever happens fully enough, the boundless goodness of the universe would take care of us.

A few days later lightening struck a neighboring hermitage only a hundred feet away. At first the roof smoldered and smoked. The monk accepted this. The roof then caught on fire. The monk accepted this. Then the rest of the hut started burning. The monk accepted this too. Soon the entire hermitage was gone and the nun who lived there was slightly injured from attempting to battle the flames.

When the Abbess came to investigate the fire, she asked the monk why he didn't go and help put out the fire. In reply, the monk told the story of the tiger and the deer and how it had taught him the importance of surrendering and accepting things in the way the deer had done.

"You fool!" said the Abbess. "Certainly there are are times when you should be like the deer, but if you are to be a spiritually mature person, you should also know when to be like the tiger!" With that the Abbess sent the monk away. "Don't come back until you know how to be a tiger. Only when you accept this part of yourself can you understand what it means to accept things as they are."
http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/ ... -fronsdal/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:anjali:
This is our foundation: to have sati, recollection, and sampajañña, self-awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, or reclining. Whatever arises, just leave it be, don’t cling to it. Whether it’s like or dislike, happiness or suffering, doubt or certainty... Don’t try to label everything, just know it. See that all the things that arise in the mind are simply sensations. They are transient. They arise, exist and cease. That’s all there is to them, they have no self or being, they are neither ‘us’ nor ‘them’. None of them are worthy of clinging to.

- Ajahn Chah
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retrofuturist
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
bodom wrote:We detach from greed, hatred and delusion not from generosity, loving kindness and wisdom.
Add a small caveat about the Simile of the Raft and that's good advice. :thumbsup:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
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Kim OHara
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by Kim OHara »

bodom wrote:We detach from greed, hatred and delusion not from generosity, loving kindness and wisdom.

:anjali:
:candle: :candle: :candle:
Kim
chownah
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by chownah »

Detached does not necessarily mean aloof....it can mean just not clinging.
Compassion means understanding the suffering of others....it doe not necessarily mean to act.
I think that Equanimity should be added to this discussion as it accomodates both; being aware of the suffering of others one may act or not act without clinging......
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santa100
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by santa100 »

Actually, detachment and compassion are closely related. One wouldn't be able to effectively help others as long as one's still attached to his/her ego, to the "I", to what is "mine", or "myself"..
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ground
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by ground »

Digger wrote:I think we can all agree that being detached is a goal to attain. And compassion is a goal to attain.
The goal is the abandonment of the fetters:
"There are these ten fetters. Which ten? Five lower fetters & five higher fetters. And which are the five lower fetters? Self-identity views, uncertainty, grasping at precepts & practices, sensual desire, & ill will. These are the five lower fetters. And which are the five higher fetters? Passion for form, passion for what is formless, conceit, restlessness, & ignorance. These are the five higher fetters. And these are the ten fetters."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
And the abandonment of the hindrances:
"Monks, there are these five hindrances. Which five? Sensual desire as a hindrance, ill will as a hindrance, sloth & drowsiness as a hindrance, restlessness & anxiety as a hindrance, and uncertainty as a hindrance. These are the five hindrances.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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pegembara
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by pegembara »

How about becoming involved with detachment? Detachment is not indifference.

For example a fireman will risk his life to rescue people trapped in a fire. However if the situation is hopeless, he will not throw his life away running into the burning building. But if it is his loved ones trapped in a similar situation, it is likely that he will no longer act with detachment. His attachment may lead to his unnecessary demise as he now no longer see the situation as it really is.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Detached vs Involved

Post by Buckwheat »

bodom wrote:We detach from greed, hatred and delusion not from generosity, loving kindness and wisdom.
:goodpost: What a wonderful response. I can't top that, but just to add another approach: My understanding is that it should be detachment from results. Even the most detached person should get off the cushion and make the right effort to help a person in difficulty. However, there would also be equanimity for the results: If the swimmer lives, OK. If the swimmer dies, OK. Obviously, much easier said than done, but that's why the Buddha was so impressive. Whenever there is discussion of how an enlightened person should behave, why not look at the life of the Buddha? He went to great lengths to spread the dhamma because that was a more skillful action than blissing out in Nirvana under the bodhi tree. Yet he also seems to be the embodiment of detachment. I mean, he let king hack apart his body in a previous life and only felt loving kindness for the king... Now that's detachment :jawdrop:
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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