Home Wisdom Articles Pujya Gurudevshri Pujya Gurudevshri Insights Attachment – The Mother of Violence

Attachment – The Mother of Violence

We associate the feelings of dislike and hatred with violence. Pujya Gurudevshri throws light upon the association of liking and attachment also with violence

The Enlightened Ones say that the feelings of attachment and aversion are violence. It is important to understand why They stress on keeping feelings in check more than just focusing on actions.

First come feelings and later, when these feelings intensify, they express themselves through words and deeds. First, a sinful thought arises, and then follows the crime. The law and the society may be able to bring the crime under control but they can’t reach the thoughts, desires, and inclinations behind those criminal acts. A mere thought of killing someone is not punishable by law. Law and society can only tell you to not put thoughts of violence into action. They can threaten you by saying that if you act violently, you will be punished. They are concerned about sinful actions alone. But religion touches layers that are much deeper. Religion says, no doubt violent expressions are wrong but it is the feelings and intentions that are their root cause and therefore responsible for all sinful deeds. An evil feeling or intention is also violence. If you want to stay away from violence, you must stay away from evil thoughts and inclinations too.

Intention and Action

No sooner a thought to harm someone arises, whether that person is hurt or not, it creates bondage of karma. For violence, it is not necessary that the other person should die or get hurt. The thought of hurting someone itself is violence, a mistake that results in bondage.

The science of acupuncture was accidentally discovered in China a few thousand years back. A man was suffering from severe headache. He tried many methods but nothing could relieve him from that pain. At the end he even thought of bringing an end to his life but even there, he was unsuccessful. Once, his enemy shot an arrow at him in rage. The arrow hit him on his foot. No sooner the arrow pierced his foot, his headache vanished! Hence unfolded the science of acupuncture. After this incidence, many experiments were conducted and around 700 other points were discovered. The science continues to help relieve pain for millions of people even today. Although the one who shot the arrow helped the man in pain, the king punished him for that act. Although the act turned out to be a meritorious one, yet his intention behind shooting the arrow was sinful. So the punishment was for the intention behind the deed.

Contrary to this, a doctor may be cutting open a patient’s abdomen with a knife but because his intention behind the act of cutting is to save the patient, he is not punished. Even if the case fails, the doctor is not punished for it. Therefore, the Enlightened Ones give importance to the feelings and intentions and not just the act. If you do not introspect and check your intentions and focus only on the actions, you will not become non-violent.

Violence Arises from Attachment

Feeling of dislike or hatred is violence. This can be well understood but the Enlightened Ones say that creating the feeling of liking or attachment is also violence. The moment attachment arises in the mind you have committed violence. It may be a little difficult for you to accept this truth. You may feel that if I have not harmed anyone, how can I be called violent? Let me explain through an example. Seeing a house, you get a thought, ‘this house is beautiful!’ If this thought is not replaced, if you do not stay aware, then from a petty thought like this will arise a series of thoughts, ‘it would be so good if I had such a house.’ ‘I somehow want a house like this.’ ‘I need a lot of money to buy or build such a house.’ ‘By hook or crook I must get money to own a house like this.’ In accordance with the intensity of the thought, there will be its expression. Thus a petty looking thought of praising a house can create a huge blunder. A seed of one impure thought, a subtle feeling of violence can grow into a huge tree of physical violence. And so the Enlightened Ones say that do not feel that cutting someone’s throat or killing an ant alone is violence. A feeling of attachment is also violence.

The philosophy of dispassion propounds becoming free from both likes and dislikes, not just from dislikes or hatred. The feeling of liking is generally seen as desirable but going into the depth of the feeling, you meet with restlessness alone. The cause of liking etc. is delusion, unconsciousness, ignorance. Out of delusion, you feel, ‘I can be benefited by the other’, and so you yearn for others’ company. You keep searching for happiness outside.

Wealth, power, status, family etc. offer you dreams of happiness but never give you happiness. You experience this again and again, yet you don’t give up the hope of illusory happiness because your attachment is too deep. It arises from unawareness. Only in unawareness can liking and attachment arise leading to violence. Where there is vigilance and awareness, there arises neither liking nor violence.

Introspecting upon your own experiences, you will find that happiness is not in the world. All those places where you had imagined happiness, upon close observation, you will realise that none of them have happiness. Until you genuinely yearn for liberation, you will continue to move from one object to the other for happiness. One door for happiness will shut and the second door will open, then that will shut and a third will open. Until true yearning arises, the inner quest will not begin, awareness will not dawn, and spiritual unconsciousness will not end.

Awareness is the Remedy

The cause of violence is likes and dislikes. The cause of likes and dislikes is unawareness. And the unawareness can be removed with awareness alone. Therefore, the remedy for violence is awareness. But your awareness is limited to your conduct alone. You do not keep a watch on your impure feelings. And hence, even after lot of care, those ugly feelings get expressed in your actions.

If you fail to keep awareness of your feelings, then even if you are very careful about your conduct in the outer world, somewhere, you are sure to make a mistake. You are watchful of ‘I should not speak like this.’ Or ‘I should not act like this.’ But are you also aware that ‘such feelings should not arise.’ The reason why you are not yet truly spiritual and non-violent, happy and peaceful is that you do not focus on the awareness of your feelings. How can you be happy and peaceful by merely changing your activities without changing your intentions? Therefore, the Enlightened Ones ask you to focus more on the awareness of the feelings you breed. When the feelings are pure you will not have to worry about your presentation. That will automatically remain pure.

Even those who maintain awareness of their feelings, most often, it is of the feelings of dislike or hatred and not of liking or attachment. The moment a feeling of liking or attachment arises for anyone, know that to be violence. If not violence towards others, it is surely towards you. You try stopping dislike or hatred towards others but don’t try curtailing liking or attachment and eventually, the liking turns into dislike. Only when hatred arises, you realise that the situation has gone out of your control. But from beginning, if you observe the liking, you would be saved from ill feelings arising later towards the same person.

Also, hatred is not so frequent, but attachment arises every moment, in every situation. Therefore, it is necessary to be more watchful regarding that. Every day many situations arise and in unawareness you create likes and dislikes. This is violence. Increasing awareness in the activities rather than desiring to change activities is the counsel of the Enlightened Ones. They ask you to increase awareness during all your daily activities be it eating, drinking, walking, talking, sitting in a temple or a shop wherever you may be, live in constant awareness.


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