I was thinking about detachment today and this thought occurred in my mind...

We like what we see,hear,touch,smell,taste & think. This liking turns into attachment over time and this is the attachment we talk about when we say "Detachment".

And we say that one who practice the path should part from these worldly temptations and he should try to realize and part from those binds.

But what are we truly attached to,i mean when we say attachment we commonly blame the things that we think are tasty,nice,comforting,satisfying and etc. But when i thought of this i felt that we are not attached to the source of these attachments.

The way i see it we are attached to the attachment, let me simplify...

I think we are not directly attached to the taste of chocolate, i feel we are actually attached to the attachment that we once made when we tasted it for the first time. I think we are keeping that in mind and when we see chocolate again the older attachment comes and we gladly accept chocolate because we want what we once felt, i think this is why we always compare our meals even though we do not have a clue what we are comparing it with. As the taste of chocolate makes us live that moment again we love chocolate, because it is the source of that feeling that we hold dear.

After thinking this i felt that i should focus on what is the true source of attachment, is it taste of chocolate or the fact i once loved the taste of chocolate? which one am i truly attached to, is it a moment that i had which i want to live again and again or is it just plain taste?

5 Answers 5


Attachment (and the other things you mention) are described among the Twelve Nidānas.

For example chocolate exists as:

  • Name ("chocolate") and Form (the form of chocolate)
  • Sensuality (sight, taste, touch, smell, idea)
  • Contact (between our consciousness, our senses, and chocolate's form)
  • Desire
  • Attachment
  • Memories

You're right if you're saying that the specific/single answer is difficult to discern. I think that's because:

  1. Attachment isn't to a single thing
  2. Attachment doesn't have a single cause

When I say "not a single thing" I mean that chocolate exists as name, form, sensual contact, mindfulness (or the lack of it), sensual desire, memory and other fabrications; it's not a single thing.

When I say "doesn't have a single cause" I mean that attachment depends on a lot of conditions: sensuality, desire, form, contact, and fabrication.

Instead of "single cause" I think it's better to understand it as "dependent co-arising" ... e.g. "attachment to chocolate arises with (sensuality, desire, memory, etc.)".

It might be better to see the whole chain as a single system rather than as separate bits.

Your question is a bit like asking, "What is the 'chariot' exactly? Is it the wheels, the yoke, the thing it carries, or its destination?" To understand it correctly, it's kind of all of these.

So perhaps you can discern attachment as an active component within the whole: e.g. it's something which affects the 'way' in which people travel.

Also if I look at some of the various definitions of Kleshas (defilements) then sometimes it's listed and sometimes it's not. If the list is detailed then it's a 'separate thing', if it's a shorter list then I think it's just included (presumably along with Taṇhā/craving) in the category of Lobha/desire.

  • A very good answer! Can you explain a bit more,So is it OK if i say that eventually attachment is focused on a collective experience of a certain event captured by all the senses?
    – Theravada
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 22:22
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    I think that attachment is described as holding or grasping something that's "known". Maybe Taṇhā/craving is like a thief going into a stranger's house looking for something (unknown, anything) to steal, and Upādāna/attachment is when he perceives something in particular (realized, known) and reaches out and grabs it.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 10:18
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    The example is perfect!
    – Theravada
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 16:51

According to that what I've understood of the Pali-canon you can be attached to sensations caused by physical objects as well as to sensations caused by mental objects (the latter are possibly easier to understand as being constructs of the mind itself). In that I say here "sensations" - just take it as a placeholder for a wider area to what we might be actually attached to.

So, as the field in which as well as to which attachment can occur is very wide I think the only authority who can know what happened with you with the "chocolate"-example are you yourself ; it's the analytical exercise (as general methods of meditation and analysis proposed by the Buddha) to find it out yourself whether with you it happend that you became attached to the chocolade, to the taste of the chocolade, to the feeling in your mouth or in your body, or whether to the contact with the word/entity "chocolade" (for instance as a reminder to nice and important experiences in childhood), even to the abstractum which might begin to dwell in your world of thoughts, imaginations and projections (in case you are an artist creating lyrics, pictures, movies... ;-) ) .


I think we are not directly attached to the taste of chocolate, i feel we are actually attached to the attachment that we once made when we tasted it for the first time

You are half right. There is an in-built evolutionary requirement to get carbohydrates (without them we'd get low blood sugar and go into a coma or starve to death). Therefore we feel great when we find carbs... the higher the glycemic index the better.

The other part you are right about. We associate chocolate with many things. Easter. Childhood. Christmas. Birthdays. Then there's the advertising you've unconsciously had programmed into you which has further associations.

I would suggest that you / we are attached to both of these mechanisms.

  • You opened up a whole other side of this question, Thank you! and keep it up :-)
    – Theravada
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 16:53

Reality is comprised of momentary experience, one after another.

When you sit in meditation, for instance, you may come to see :

The thought of chocolate, arising and ceasing

followed by a wanting of chocolate, arising and ceasing

followed by a physical feeling, arising and ceasing.

In my experience, it is the physical feeling that arises and ceases, which is a symptom of the minds greed, its burning, wanting, and this is what we act on out of habit; that behavior which we have ingrained in our minds as being good:

We come to act on desire by following after it, and upon getting what we want, this burning of the mind subsides for some time, offering a release.

And so we come to think that it is good to get what we want, never truly coming to see what is actually happening at the experiential level.

And this is why one must practice meditation; it is not enough to understand this intellectually. It is only by experiencing this happening over and over that we can come to bend the minds habit away from an unwholesome mode of behavior to one of unbinding.


But when i thought of this i felt that we are not attached to the source of these attachments.

Then simply detract you from that (all of what you think that you are not attached to), that is why a yogi takes on 8 precepts or 10 to be even aware or the raw defilement.

Mr. Theravada would then, without the need of believing somebody, find out the answers to his question.

Its like

Falling Out of a Tree

...It's the same with dependent co-arising. "Ignorance is the condition for fabrications. Fabrications are the condition for consciousness. Consciousness is the condition for name and form." We've studied this and memorized it, and it's true, the way the Buddha has divided things up like this for students to study. But when these things actually arise, they're too fast for you to count.

It's like falling from the top of a tree — thump! — to the ground. We don't know which branches we've passed. The moment the mind is struck by a good object, if it's something it likes, it goes straight to "good." It doesn't know the connecting steps in between. They follow in line with the texts, but they also go outside of the texts. They don't say, "Right here is ignorance. Right here is fabrication. Right here is consciousness. Right here is name and form." They don't have signs for you to read. It's like falling out of a tree. The Buddha talks about the mental moments in full detail, but I use the comparison with falling out of a tree. When you slip out of a tree — thump! — you don't measure how many feet and inches you've fallen. All you know is you've crashed to the ground and are already hurting.

("In Simple Terms" 108 Dhamma Similes by Ajahn Chah)

(Note: this answer has not been given with the agreement to be means of trade or the purpose of/for trade and/or keep people trapped and bound. How you handle it lies in your sphere, but does not excuse the deed here either.)

  • I agree bhante, But what i was asking for a explanation to clear my mind so i can be clear if what i thought is correct or not.
    – Theravada
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 22:26
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    An explanation will not clear your mind, as Bhante explained.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 23:13
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    Thats right, Mr @Theravada , you would just intellectual think form this comes this and that is because of that, but when it actually accrues, you would not be aware of it. Let Atma add a simile in the answer.
    – user7586
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 23:42
  • OK OK, i think You are right bhante :-) @SamanaJohann
    – Theravada
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:08

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