[Philosophy Thread] Minimalism, Buddhist detachment and materialism.

Discussion in 'Community' started by ravenvii, May 28, 2005.

  1. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #1
    Let's get this quote out of the way; it's spoken by Yoda in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith;

    I came upon this quote in one of the forum members' signatures, and it got me thinking. It hit home because this is the feeling I have recently, the feeling that I need to learn to detach myself from material things. Buddhism believes in this detachment. I do not agree 100% with their beliefs - certain attachments are desirable - attachment to family, loved ones and friends. Attachment to one's own works - art, creations, discoveries, and finally one's respect for one's status in society. Capitalism isn't evil; it has great potential to improve our lives. However, I agree with their philosophy of detachment from things you fear to lose - For example, many of you fear that someone would break into your house and steal your Macs. I believe this is not desirable - Macs, and even your house, is replaceable. They are not important in the ultimate sense. I believe what is important is ultimately your consciousness and your experience of life. The people around you, the things you and others create, and the way you handle your life. But you should not care whether you would lose your materials - you can replace them always. Capitalism isn't evil as I say - if you enjoy to use computers, or play games, for all means go buy a Mac and a PS2 to enjoy them. But do not fear to lose them, and do not keep them for sentimental value. That's just unimportant in the big picture. The big picture is YOU.

    I believe the best style if life is of a minimalist - sure buy things you enjoy, and get the best you can out of capitalism. But collecting things, and actually place yourself into material things is a bad way of doing things - they are just not important. Once you die, they lose all meaning. Once you die, you will no longer care. Nor will they.

    And now comes my own dilemma... I have a collection of games - I have all Metal Gear Solid games, Castlevania, Zelda, and several other series. I do admit that I fear losing them. I place alots of sentimentality into them - not love or heart or anything, but simply the fact that I have them. I have not played almost all of them after I beat them once.

    I wish I could convince myself that they are truly not important. I understand it, and I believe it, but my feelings rebel. I have emotional attachment to them which should not be there. I have no emotional attachment to my Mac for example - I love the thing, and I am a big fan of Apple Computer Inc, and I want to buy almost everything they ever release :D, but I don't really fear losing my Mac - my valuable files - my films, my art, and my photos, they are stored elsewhere. If my Mac mini was stolen, I would probably be pissed for a bit, but really it's no big deal - I'll just buy another one. A drag sure, but money is just as material as the Mac - I use it to give myself enjoyment - food, life, roof over my head, my Mac. It's nothing by itself. So I have no real attachment to my Mac - I'm attached to it's means. Which is not a bad thing in my view - I create, I communicate and I derive entertainment from it.

    I'm just rambling at this point. I just want to see what you guys think, and what you guys feel about the philosophy of minimalism. And what do you guys believe about materialism, attachment, and if any of you achieved "nirvana", let me know how it feels, and how you achieved it.

    Thanks for all of you who made it to this line. I appreciate you reading this.
     
  2. stubeeef macrumors 68030

    stubeeef

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    #2
    Chistianity, too, has trouble with materialism.

    Link

    I too, have been struggling with "ownership" and the worry and struggle that accompany it. I had a thread on it a few weeks back. Good luck with your struggle, and may the force be with you!

    edit: searched and got the link to the thread > http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=120753&highlight=minimalism

    Then I noticed you were the last post! :D

    Struggle On!
     
  3. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    Chicago, Illinois
    #3
    Wow. I remember feeling the same way when I was in school-travel light. "Don't keep too many things, they're not important." that kind of thing. Now that I'm 38, I haven't changed too much. Recently I moved and the movers broke my 32" Sony Trinitron TV. I just started laughing when they told me! I paid $900 for it 8 years ago and insurance paid me $125 for it. So what did I do? Went out and got a Philips 30" widescreen HDTV for $750. Still less than I paid for the Sony 8 years ago. :) You're right- material things don't matter. However, my 13 year-old cat was just diagnosed with dementia and we only have about 2 months left with him. I've had him since he was a baby, and that will depress me when I have to put him down.
     
  4. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    LaLaLand, CA
    #4
    The thing that's always bothered me about living a life without material possessions is that this world is physical. We're supposed to have physical things. Possessions are fleeting, but they also give us comfort. Some for entertainment, some for other uses. The practical and the unnecessary. True, life can become more complicated. But it adds just as much as it takes. We were given brains for a reason, the ability to use tools. We may as well use that gift, even if it can get us in to trouble at times.

    You should read the Tao of Pooh. It puts Buddhism and Confuciusism in it's place. I respect those who believe such things, but strongly disagree as I don't desire ascension nor nirvana, and believe spirituality need not come as a sacrfice to life. Desire may lead to suffering, but what is a life without desire? Is not suffering a natural part of life? As is our attachment to it and what it contains, emotional and physical? Of course, some people take that too far, and it hurts more than helps. Especially when they become greedy or jealous or take from others. There is a level of balance. To give freely, and not be afraid to lose, but to enjoy and protect (to an extent) what you have. To be willing to work for what you desire.

    Remember that one of the problems with the Jedi was that they were not allowed to give in to their feelings and desires. Anakin was told not to fear, not to love, not to become attached. But that's not living. That's not being true to yourself. People love, that's what makes us want to live, to fight, to sacrifice. People are afraid. There are some things you're supposed to fear, and it's ok. Fear doesn't always lead to hate, but if it's denied instead of dealt with, it can lead to confusion. Thus the Jedi become detached, and arrogant, in their ways. Rather than help someone who is suffering with a genuine feeling of worry, they rathionalize and deny these feelings as useless. Even though they themselves worry as well. Yet do nothing about it until it's too late, and are caught off guard.

    And the Sith take over because they understand humanity, and use it's insecurity and weaknesses against it. Some religions do that. They preach love and accpetance and convenience, but their leaders do the exact opposite. Most of the time out of a desire for power, especially over others. And this was their downfall. They took it too far, and were too selfish and greedy. They became destructive instead protective and power became more important than anything else. So the rebels took them down a notch. In the end, Anakin saved his son (or was saved by his son) because he realized that family was more important than power. Something the Jedi forgot, but Luke knew all too well.

    Sometimes attachment is a good thing. It can bring redemption just as easily as it can our downfall. There is a balance that makes us what we are. Flawed, but full of potential. Negative, positive. Selfish, but loving and giving. You can have possessions, attachments, money, etc... but you have to know that nothing is permanent. Appreciate what you have, desire what you want, but be willing to lose everything and everyone and still be able to keep going. Be careful not to live too far beyond your means. Never put power and the physical above all else. Understand that loss is ok, but so is grieving, because it's ok to feel bad. It's better than feeling nothing at all. And the most important thing - that there may be someone who has more than you, but there are so many that have so much less.

    So don't be afraid to give everything of your self, because there's always more to lose. Thank you, and good night.
     
  5. treysmay macrumors regular

    treysmay

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2005
    Location:
    toronto, ontario, canada
    #5
    budhists and rockstars

    Buddhists are a lot like our American rock stars.
    Neither of them care about material objects or attachments to objects.
    Think about it, rock stars do it because they can not because they need to.
    And don’t worry about there possessions cause they forget a lot.
    I’m sure Kieth Richards has a house in Mexico he forgot about.
    it's all about the music :p , as for monks theyre all for that god guy :rolleyes:
    which is more important? i dont know :confused:
    :D
     
  6. Fukui macrumors 68000

    Fukui

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    Jul 19, 2002
    #6
    And some find it comforting to not have to find comfort in things.
    Thats the whole point. :)
     
  7. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #7
    So you don't have friends, or family? Or a bed to sleep in, a stove to cook in, a roof over your head? Or a computer to surf the net on? Granted, as I said, they can bring their own downsides but it's still ok to have them. That's what they're there for. Whether they be for entertainment, or simply tools.

    (no, I haven't gone to bed yet... but I am glad someone actually read my tirade)
     
  8. angelneo macrumors 68000

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    afk
    #8
    Is this thread about Star Wars or Buddhism? Actually, I don't think they expressed the same idea. I think Buddhism detachment comes from the impermanence of all things, be it life, death, suffering so on. Rejoice as you have it now but do not hang on to it as it will fade away. It is not about being devoid of all emotions/desire or to abandon all material wealth/objects but to understand that these things will come to pass and it will pass.

    It's an endless cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment.
     
  9. ravenvii thread starter macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #9
    I'm all for possessions. The stove, the roof over my head, my Mac. I'm not saying you should dispossess yourself of every material thing you own. That's silly. I only bought up Buddhism because their goals are similar, while their motivations might be different. I did say I don't agree with them 100% in my first post.

    What I meant by attachment to materials is to put actual emotions into them for no reason other than to have them. I love my Mac, and I want nearly everything Apple Computer, Inc. makes. But notice I only have one Mac. I use it heavily, and I love it. But I do not have emotional attachment to this PARTICULAR Mac. If I lose it somehow, sure I'll be pissed, but well, it's no big deal. I don't really fear losing my Mac - I'll protect it and try to prevent it from becoming gone before I want it gone, but I do not actually fear the possibility that it becomes gone. I use it for many things, and when I decide I want something faster/better, I'll go and buy it (within my means of course), and most probably will not keep my Mac mini, unless I still have uses for it. Same with my TV, my game consoles, stoves, the frickin' house. Some things will suck more losing than others. But you hurt over losing them because you lose some functionality you used to have.

    Now, consider my collection of games - the Zeldas, Castlevanias and etc I mentioned above. I never play those games anymore, but I still keep them for no other reason than that they have "Zelda" or "Castlevania" on the cover. I have no uses for it other to complete my collection. They're unnecessary. And I would admit that I fear to lose them somehow.

    That's where I come from. That's why I'm talking about minimalism and Buddhism and that quote (not the Jedi as a whole). I believe people whould increase reliance on themselves and others, instead of objects, for emotional support. People are what matters. I know I'm bordering on Communist ideals, but I'm not saying capitalism is bad at all. It's just the personal journey to detach yourself from the impermanent and place reliance on the real and the permanent.
     
  10. iJon macrumors 604

    iJon

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    #10
    Well after touring all of Thailand (still one more week to go) and seeing all the temples, wats, monks and shines the place has to offer, it's been a real culture treat. I love the religion of Budda. Now I don't believe they are the answer when it comes to life after this but their view of things makes me smille. These people live off nothing and always offer a smile, these beautiful temples and just such peace when I visit them. I donated at every wat I went to because of their way of life. Back home all I see are these million dollar churches full of people who go cause they think it's the thing to do, asking for money so they can build bigger and bigger churches and convert convert convert. These people have gorgeous temples that are open to all people, you don't have to put on your suit or tie, the monks themselves are wearing nothing more than some orange cloth. I sat down with them and they spoke to me of the history of Chaing Mai and other questions I had.

    Now in about a few hours I fly out to go to Phuket to relax on the beaches as well as asses the tsunami damage and speak with locals about what has happened. This trip has really put into perspective my most recent tragedy with our house burning down. the more i have thought about the situation the more i realize that me being mad was more due to the fact of what my parents loss, not me.

    Now i must stop writing cause i am just rambling. its late in the heart of bangkok and i ahve a flight in 6 hours. ill make sure to let the macrumors community know how people are down in tsunamiville, at least for those who are interested.

    jon
     
  11. Fukui macrumors 68000

    Fukui

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    Jul 19, 2002
    #11
    I don't think you understand. You can have all of those things, and take joy in them, including relationships with people (which by the way are the most important). But what is different is that you must not let the fact that they are there or that you have them give you comfort.

    The idea is that things are just things, and that give distraction from what is trully important, the way we treat those around us.

    If I lost everything today, I would hope that I would not mourn its loss. If so, then I can go on with my life and do what I need to be sucessful again instead of brooding about "what was" and "what could have been..." its pointless and unproductive.
     
  12. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    One of the cool things of Buddhism is the sand paintings that the Tibetan monks make.
    They work on them for weeks; then they just sweep it away.
    Quite different from Western attitude on art. Where it MUST be preserved at all cost and people will pay millions for a piece of culture that they probably don't really understand. Just a showpiece.
     
  13. Zachariah macrumors member

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    Earth
  14. Fukui macrumors 68000

    Fukui

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    #14
    Same with Native Americans AFAIK.
     
  15. Fukui macrumors 68000

    Fukui

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    #15
    Thats actually quite true isnt it.
     
  16. ravenvii thread starter macrumors 604

    ravenvii

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    #16
    As they say, moderation in everything :) Actually this is more putting attachment into a different place than eliminating of attachment... see below;

    Couldn't have said it better myself.
     
  17. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #17
    I agree with most of what is being said, but there is nothing wrong with a little mourning. It's a healthy and natural emotion after experiencing a loss. It's not a good idea to dwell, but you are going to miss something if you cared about it after it is gone. It's just the way we're wired. To deny that is to deny the truth about yourself. The key is what to feel for. People, idealism - yes. Material possessions - most of the time, no. Even if they have some emotional attachment. But especially if they are replaceable, and especially if it's just a tool.

    I think we are talking about Taoism and not Buddhism. Taoists can have stuff, and they can even be somewhat attached. They just have to understand that nothing is permanent, possessions are fleeting (but can still be appreciated for what they are), and people don't stay around or live forever. If we're talking about Jedis, they have their own issues. Detachment being one of the reasons for their downfall. I wouldn't fault the Buddhists for that as much, but they do tend to deprive themselves for the sake of spirituality.
     

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