Craving and Attachment

The term “suffering” is Buddhism is not exactly the same term as suffering in English. Suffering, in the English sense is a subset of the larger Buddhist sense. Suffering in English usually connotes pain, but in Buddhism the term “dukkha” refers to wishing life was other than it is. Of course, in the English sense, if one is in pain in some way, wishing life is other than it is is a part of that, but in the Buddhist sense it includes other forms of wishes. These wishes form the basis of craving – craving satisfaction, pleasure, craving for life to be other than it is.

I think more about attachment, though, than I do about craving. I perceive attachment as being a deeper, more insidious thing. Craving can be temporary, and not as based on a weakness in the psyche as attachment. I see attachment as a need to use the object, experience, sensation to fill a psychological need, whereas craving is more akin to simple desire. Craving, it seems can be controlled more easily. Craving can be recognized as a want rather than perceived as a need. There are many things I like and might like to own or have, but I recognize that I don’t need them and that I’m ok, I’m me (as far as that goes) without them. Attachment is more like if I don’t have that I’m not me, I’m nothing. Neither is good, mind you, and it may seems as if I’m talking craving down a notch here. I don’t mean to be. Craving can lead to attachment. You can be attached to craving as well. I’ve heard that wealth is not a problem, but attachment to wealth is. Craving for wealth is as well. One can then become attached to that craving, do anything to own, achieve, possess whatever it is that is being craved. I think I can like certain things without necessarily craving them or being attached to them. Once I think, though, that I need them, it becomes craving. Once I think I can’t live without them, it becomes attachment. It becomes clear though that craving is not something that should be toyed with, and even the simplest desire for something should be examined. While some things are nice and can be enjoyed in a healthy manner, it needs to be asked, do I want it more than is healthy? Am I “me” without it?

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