Buddhism Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people practicing or interested in Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In the Buddha's teachings we learn how to see things as a product of our own mind, for example, if you "fall in love" everything happens in your own mind, the other person is nothing but an external stimulus, so in theory if we tam our mind we can live in this world without suffering wordly consequences of attachments and desires.

Even with this deep knowledge, in Buddhism we are encouraged to abandon desires, wealth and go to homeless life (for monks!). So the question is: Is it impossible to tame the mind completely? Is that an utopia? Because if one could tame his mind completely, there would be no need to abandon things as the way he relates to them would be completely free and deattached.

If material things have the potential to create problems, does it mean a full tamed mind is impossible?

share|improve this question
There are various levels of Buddhist teachings and they are sometimes contradictory. Abandoning desires is central in so-called Hinayana level, whereas on Mahayana level it is not required. See this question – Rabbit Aug 29 '14 at 15:52
good point, but my main doubt here is: If one can truly tame his mind, why the need to abandon things? – konrad01 Aug 29 '14 at 15:58
Because we are beginners. It is for our own safety that we first train in controlled conditions before we are thrown into a real mayhem. Before we learn to ride the tiger it is safer to first avoid the tiger :) – Rabbit Aug 29 '14 at 16:02

In Zen we are not taught to abandon things. Instead we are taught to let go of our attachment to things. The key here is that it is not the things themselves that make us suffer, but it is our attachment to these things that make us suffer. Eliminating the things themselves is different than learning to liberate yourself from your own attachment to these things.

Three men sit in a lions den waiting to be eaten by a hungry lion. The first man hides in the corner trembling in fear of the lion. The second man stands strong ready to face the lion and kill it. The third man is liberated from attachments and is not in fear of the lion, nor does he want to kill the lion. In the present moment the third man is filled with joy and happiness for he is alive.

Abandoning things, is like the man trying to get rid of the lion. At first it may seem like the best choice, but there is a middle way between the first two men.

share|improve this answer
Good point for Zen, I would like to hear other schools as well, but I really like your answer – konrad01 Aug 29 '14 at 16:23

The lay life is not conducive to the practice. Imagine you are studying for an exam and you have 2 places to go to. 1. A quiet library. 2. A stripper club with loud music. In which environment will you be able to study more effectively? One can still study in the stripper club, but it's going to be much difficult and not as effective compared to studying in the library.

If what you are really asking is why someone who becomes an Arahath in lay life gets ordained within seven days, it is because the holy life is what is most natural for a being without defilements. There's nothing in his mind that keeps him tied to the lay life. It's like if you hold down an air bubble underwater using a cup and then when you turn it over, the air bubble will go up and enter the atmosphere. There's nothing that holds it down underwater.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.