Why we need to give up our worldly concerns ~ 17th Karmapa

When we talk about this life’s concerns (summarized by the eight worldly dharmas), we should understand why we need to work on giving them up. The reason is that they represent our attachments, the various ways we cling to all the things of this world. It does not matter whether these things seem to be nice or unpleasant, good or bad, beneficial or harmful. It is just our clinging to them – blindly without understanding or thinking – that disturbs our mind and fills us with apprehension.

Many of us like the Dharma and want to practice it. But often we practice seriously when we are unhappy and have some problems, so actually we are just trying to make ourselves happier. When we have back pain, we apply gels and get a massage, and then we feel a bit better. Our Dharma practice is a little like this. We think that it is something to do when there is a problem, but our main attraction is to this life, to the world and all of its entertainments. We consider our worldly possessions crucial to our lives, the very source of our happiness. Even if we do not think like this consciously, in the background of our mind, our unconscious attitude holds on to all these worldly things as if our happiness truly depended on them.

When we have this attitude, our Dharma practice starts to resemble the treatment of AIDS. I’ve been told that when one has AIDS, the food one eats first feeds the AIDS virus and only afterward, when the virus is satiated, does it go to the parts of our body that are healthy. Something like this happens when we practice Dharma with too much attachment to the eight worldly concerns. Like the AIDS virus, they receive most of our attention, while the Dharma is second in line.


17th Karmapa

from the book Traveling the Path of Compassion: A Commentary on The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva


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