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The flood of attachment

The flood of attachment

A Crown Ornament for the Wise, a hymn to Tara composed by the First Dalai Lama, requests protection from the eight dangers. These talks were given after the White Tara Winter Retreat at Sravasti Abbey in 2011.

  • Craving is what actually propels us into the next birth
  • Craving and attachment also cause us to create negative karma in this life, influencing our next rebirth

The Eight Dangers 15: The flood of attachment, part 1 (download)

Good. So we’re moving on to attachment. Okay? [Laughter] Done with miserliness, on to attachment.

Okay, so it’s the flood of attachment, that’s what it’s like:

Sweeping us in the torrent of cyclic existence so hard to cross,
we’re conditioned by the propelling winds of karma.
We are tossed in the waves of birth, aging, sickness and death:
The flood of attachment—please protect us from this danger!

So, similar to the previous verse, it’s reminding us of cyclic existence as a whole. It’s not just talking about this particular affliction, but cyclic existence as a whole.

But attachment—and here attachment means craving—has a very special significance when we talk about cyclic existence. Because craving is what actively propels the next rebirth. So it’s through ignorance that we create karma to be reborn in cyclic existence. But at the time of death what arises?

[Aside] I’m watching the cat, and craving is arising in her mind. [Laughter] Yes, craving for the macaroni and cheese.

[To kitty] So craving, little kitty, makes us get reborn in cyclic existence.

Because that’s what arises at the time of death. Sometimes it could be craving for this life—we don’t want to separate from our friends, our relatives, our whole identity, our body, our material possessions, so we crave and cling to hold onto it. And then that craving produces a stronger type of craving which is often called clinging, or sometimes grasping, and that’s what makes us want another life. Okay? So that comes very actively at the time of death. Of course, it depends on ignorance, but that’s the manifest thing that’s really functioning at the time of death, that makes the karma ripen, that throws us into the next rebirth.

But craving and attachment also arise during this life and make us create the karma that puts seeds in our mind that will influence what we’re reborn as.

So do you see this kind of dual function? Creating karma now, in this life. Because, through craving we have attachment, we have greed, all these kinds of things that make us create karma now. And then at the time of death we crave this life. And then become attached and cling to having a future life, which makes the karma in our mind ripen and propels the next rebirth. Okay?

So, that’s why this one is especially strong to subdue. Especially important for us to subdue.

There’s a song that “love makes the world go ’round.” But Buddhists say, “craving makes the samsaric world go ’round.” You know, go around in cyclic existence. So we want to really do something with our craving and oppose it—and we’ll get into that in the upcoming talks—very often to seeing its disadvantages, and by directing the mind to a more virtuous state rather than let it just completely stew in the stage of craving, clinging, grasping attachment.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.