Path of Transformation

Attachment to This Life


Phakchok Rinpoche was recently invited by the students and faculty of Rangjung Yeshe Institute for a question-and-answer session. One student asked him to comment on the first statement from the famous teaching known as Parting From the Four Attachments. These four statements were given in a vision by Manjusri to the Sakya patriarch Sachen Kunga Nyingpo. His son, Jetsün Drakpa Gyaltsen, wrote a famous commentary on these four lines.

Phakchok Rinpoche addresses the question of the first statement, “When you have attachment to this life, you are not a practitioner”. Rinpoche says this line can be understood at two levels. When one is a beginner, the message is about having a good character. Good character means adopting the teachings of the fundamental vehicle of Buddhism. Be humble and content.

When we have more experience, like 10 or more years of sincere practice, this instruction can be taken as a caution. We can understand it as a reminder not to be influenced or swayed by worldly successes. These are the four “hopes” of the eight worldly concerns. Rinpoche notes that when we don’t have money, power, respect, or fame we behave like humble and nice people. But as we succeed in these areas, we may become attached to those things. This is an important warning for us not to fall prey to these traps. These are the attachments that can harm practitioners.

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