Non-attachment: the true path to enjoyment

Non-attachment is a doctrine emphasized by many spiritual traditions. It centres around the idea of impermanence – that everything in this world is transitory, and thus we should cling to nothing. On first hearing, this advice may be misunderstood. We may conjure up images of the ultimate killjoy – someone who is passionless, uncaring, indifferent; someone who is excited about nothing, looks forward to nothing, and enjoys nothing. Fortunately, this view is far from the truth. Non-attachment does not imply the shunning of enjoyment. In fact, it is only through non-attachment that we can truly enjoy anything.

Everything changes. The flower that is beautiful today will fade and die tomorrow. When we cling and attach to things, the fading of such beauty saddens us. This is to misunderstand the nature of the universe. The truth is that everything changes. Our bodies age, our health fades, people die, new people are born. Our possessions – however precious and sparkling new they are today – will soon break, age, or no longer seem useful. Whether in days or years, everything is as fragile as the flower, eventually subject to change. Therefore, attachment does not bring enjoyment. In contrast, it invites suffering and disappointment. It is only through non-attachment that we can enjoy the things in this world without suffering from the inevitability of change. Non-attachment is the true path to enjoyment.

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