I find it very difficult not to see a problem in Tenzin Palmo Jetsunma’s way of reasoning, even when I would agree with her regarding the drawbacks of extreme attachment.
She undoubtedly performs a complicated semantic operation in her way of saying things. She refers to attachment as a sign of imbalance and something unhealthy, but she does not call it extreme attachment, but simply attachment.
However, when she refers to its opposite, detachment, she refers to it as something balanced and healthy without referring to extreme detachment at all.
Thus, attachment, from her point of view, is always extreme attachment, since all forms of attachment are unhealthy, while detachment is always healthier, since detachment, from her point of view, does not refer by default to extreme detachment.
Conclusion: She is biased and makes a straw man out of attachment, while picking and choosing and applying arbitrary favoritism to detachment.
One should not even be attached to detachment. However, in thinking about this woman’s ideas I let my views and hers exist parallel without bias in my mind and heart for long enough. That’s what I meant by detachment.
Actually I personally do not understand attachment only as being attached, but also as being attached to detachment or, in other words, as an inability not to keep distance even from your own detachment.
To me, most monks preach detachment in the same attached way that attached people are narcotized by attachment.
When one tries to explain detachment by saying that detachment is not extreme detachment one can neglect that the same semantic operation can be done with attachment. In other words, attachment is not necessarily extreme attachment.
Hence, if we would believe in a mild version of detachment: “Love a flower, don’t pick it”, there is no reason not to believe in a mild version of attachment: “Pick the flower and move it to a better ground, don’t leave it to die “.
If we associate the word attachment with possession, giving it a negative meaning, we can likewise associate the word detachment with indifference and give it a negative meaning as well.
We could also say that the forces of attachment and detachment can create a balance. However, she favors detachment because monks live a detached life that is often extreme.
If you ask: Is it good or bad to be attached or is it good or bad to be detached?
When we associate generic words with more specific words that we clearly recognize as good or bad, e.g., love or attachment, then those specific words will mistakenly make the generic words good or bad accordingly without being so per se.
Do you know how many people, even great philosophers, continue to give bad or good reputations to generic words as if they were so per se? And this is not just confined to the moral sphere, but to any sphere that contains elements in opposition. No generic word can form universal statements that are not limited and specific to certain situations.
Let us give some examples with two concrete opposite words. We could associate the word “attachment” with many bad things such as dependence, clinging, worshipping, controlling, pleasing, etc. Thus, we have successfully constructed a terrible profile for attachment.
We could also associate the word “attachment” with many good things, such as commitment, endurance, endurance, determination, sincerity. Thus, we successfully build a great profile for attachment.
We could also associate the word “detachment” with many bad things, such as indifference, lack of commitment, aloofness, lack of groundedness, and so on. Therefore, we would successfully build a terrible profile for detachment.
We could also associate the word “detachment” with many good things such as peace, love, letting go, being free, independent, etc. Therefore, we would successfully build a great profile for detachment.
Each word has a spectrum of variations that allow us to make each word great or terrible in a general sense. However, when we universalize generic words, if we opt for one and discard another, there is no single, fundamental generic word that can play the role of the basic principle for all other words. Each generic word can be contracted and elasticized to play exactly the same universal philosophical role as any other generic word.
So why do philosophers and thinkers today continue to play this childish game of universalism by making a fundamental principle the pivot of all their narratives?
Because our mind and our memory take time, sometimes even a long time, to realize this ontological mismatch of reality and meaning. By the time we reach wisdom, if ever, it is usually too late to unlearn our mind of this transcendental error.
Let us not forget. Everything that exists, by existing, generates and has side effects. It is precisely these side effects that allow something to always be recoded as the opposite or at least in the vicinity of the opposite.
We make again and again in vain metaphysics of this mishap, and pretend to be a poetic or philosophical genius taking advantage of the bad historical and logical memory of other humans.