Is it possible to evade life’s painful lessons by avoiding the entanglement of relationships?  Can one really live without them?  I asked this question of my teacher, a man whom in addition to bearing an eerie resemblance to Gandalf, has weaned me from dependence to self-reliance.  He looked at me for a moment, but said nothing.  He didn’t have to; I already knew the answer.

Avoidance usually implies a desire to escape circumstances.  Anything that triggers attachment to an outcome indicates that one is not operating in the present.  How many times do I have to hear about the dual mind and how it hinders contentment?  I had hoped I was done with that lesson. 

Apparently not.  I sat across from him, trying to hide the sheepish look on my face by hastily drinking the tea he offered.  It still didn’t make any sense, so I asked him if it wouldn’t be better to just sit on a mountaintop and contemplate one’s navel.  Surely one could get farther faster with a minimum of distractions.

Fortunately for me, he’s patient and accustomed to my doggedness.  He nodded and agreed it would be faster, but not necessarily better.  It’s much harder, and ultimately more strengthening, to learn in the midst of chaos. 

I mulled it over, thinking about those in my acquaintance who had steadfastly avoided intimate relationships or had become renunciates.  Were they any happier than me?  Were their lives dedicated to service or were they just running away?

There is a certain either/or mentality in our society which forces us to choose.  It’s as though a reconciliation between inner and outer lives is impossible.  I’ve often wondered why this is so.  Each of us has both; why must we pick a side?   Isn’t the very act of choosing further proof of our attachment to duality?



  1. 7charlie Says:

    Hi, very good post, I am facing the problem of deciding where an starting relationship should go and I do not know if I am trying to avoid suffering for myself or really has became a Buddhist moral issue.
    Obviously I am not operating in the present , it is difficult to imagining someone operating in the present when sex appears close and one is experiencing someone else caring for us.
    Explanation: I could see the starting point of attachment and even could see the starting point of suffering and so I avoid getting deeper into it, now what about the other I could see or I believe that I see the growing attachment in the other and I know that it can not be attachment without pain so what can I do, the other expects de manifestation of my attachment to show up , should I think, “it is just my thoughts” and fake attachment for ever for the good (and the bad ) of the other, let myself fall into attachment with the advantage of knowing what is going on and supported by the idea that one can only know about oneself in the mirror of relationship. I sincerely wish her to be well and happy, it seems to be that I should move out her life and let her to find someone else where she can have a “normal ” relationship and go to the top of a mountain to contemplate my navel.
    If you have any view on this I would welcome it.
    Up to now I read only this one of your posts it just was what I was trying to read about.


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