This Prison of Life

“I’d like to advise that you use this word “upadana” instead of “attachment”or any other English translation…..We must realize that the heart of Buddhism is to wipe out upadana. The heart of Buddhism is that which gets rid of upadana, or cut it out. Then there is no prison, and then there is no dukkha. You must take the meaning of the English words attachment, grasping, and clinging, then combine them to get the meaning of “upadana.” It’s better for us to use the word upadana.…The heart of Buddhism is just to uproot or cut out this upadana. Then dukkha will be finished. Please understand that this is the heart of all Buddhism.” The Prison of Life
By Buddhadasa Bikkhu

It is refreshing to see an explanation of Buddhism this simple. It is easy to forget how simple it is because there are so many schools, traditions, nationalities, languages, etc., of Buddhism. My preference is for Zen because it includes a strong Taoist bent and the Japanese masters all seem to have a dry sense of humor, which I appreciate. Their ruthless acceptance of reality contrasts nicely with the fantasy-bound perspectives I still encounter among Christian leaders.

It’s all about being done with suffering. The source of suffering is upadana. This word is new to me. I am only familiar with its English translations: grasping, attachment, clinging, etc. It is no surprise that the author considers thes translation inadequate. It reminds me of the Greek word “logos”. “In the beginning was the Logos…” It gets translated as “word” but that is an anemic translation. I once looked it up in a Greek dictionary and found dozens of meanings. “Word” is probably the most succinctly accurate translation, but no translation could ever do it justice. Upadana is likely similar.

We all know what upadana feels like. “My life would be so much better if I just had ________.” My Amazon account testifies to my obsessions. To just deal with reality is so anti-climactic.

The prison of life is truly locked from the inside.



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About cdhoagpurple

I have an MBA, am married to a GM/UAW retiree with Huntington's Disease. I am more Buddhist than Christian. I plan on moving to Virginia when widowed. I have a friend''s parents that live down there and another friend living in Maryland. I am simplifying my life in preparation for the eventual move.Eight years ago, my husband had stage 4 cancer. I am truly "neither here nor there." My identity shifts and I am always surprised where I end up. 2015 was my hardest year ever. This is my Dark Night of the Soul. Welcome to it.

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