The Religious Exploration Salon is a group that meets 3rd Sundays to discuss various topics in the format called Bohm Dialogue. The topic for February 22 will be “Denial, Detachment, Non-attachment“.
(For more details about how Dialogue works, see our February article and last month’s article ).
I usually leave people alone to bring whatever thoughts they have about the topic but in this case, since I proposed it and it is a bit confusing, I feel a need for an introduction and definitions, so that we can start from a common place:
Animals (including homo sapiens) deal with threats by fixing the problem or avoiding it (fight or flight). But humans have a larger capacity for anticipating threats at a distance in space and time. This is an advantage but it can also be a disadvantage beause fear of loss is associated with more distant and abstract threats is much like the fear of immediate concrete threats.
When we cannot practically avoid or fix distant threats we do various things to lessen the pain:
Denial – suppressing awareness of a threat. Dismissing its reality or importance. Banishing the awareness from your mind.
Detachment – remaining aware of the threat but suppressing the emotional reaction to the it. Controlling the pain by deadening its emotional effect. This includes the techniques of looking away and distracting yourself with other things.
With denial there is the risk that when the threat becomes immediate you won’t recognize it or it will be too late to take action. Similarly with detachment you may not take action in time because you’re unmotivated to do so.
Non-attachment – Buddhists propose a third, better way to handle the fear. Non-attachment is remaining open to both the awareness of the threat and to the associated emotions. You accept and experience them fully instead of suppressing them – but don’t identify with them. Instead witness them, letting them come and go. Also realize that the pain of fear is due to your attachment to what you would lose. Buddhists say that non-attachment will free you from the domination of fear yet leave you free to act.
Or something like that — I’m not a Buddhist and in my online searches I sensed some confusion/disagreement even among Buddhists about non-attachment. We welcome Buddhists to come to our salon and share with us what you think non-attachment means.
Everyone is welcome. You are welcome to think about the topic beforehand but no preparation is required or expected — come as you are with whatever thoughts/feelings/intuitions you have, ready to listen, learn and contribute. Our next meeting will be on February 22nd at 7pm in the Brackett Room.
Contact Paul Reising for more information.