Attachment to happiness

When the Goal of buddhism is bliss, then is there not an attachment to bliss? And if there was, wouldn’t that be bad? Wouldn’t it not be the case that when everything is let go off, then also bliss is let go off and the end result is truly neutral? No happiness and no suffering? Doesn’t the complete letting go as the goal of the path imply that everything including happiness is let go of and when there is anything different than purely nothing that there is still something where one is attached?

When Nibbana is different to nothing in that it is happiness, does that not imply that this happiness is also impermanent? Because it is different to being truly nothing which means one can logically follow that it is possible that it is no more. The only thing which one can truly say cannot be destroyed is nothing because it is nothing.

If the buddhas teaching is true and the end of suffering, then I guess, there must be a reason why my views here are incorrect, because the buddhas teaching should withstand any doubts.

Ven Ananda advising a nun:

“This body comes into being through craving. And yet it is by relying on craving that craving is to be abandoned.”—AN 4.159

There is the path which utilizes conditioned phenomena, and the end of the path when they are abandoned. The Buddha routinely addresses suttas at the arahant level and readers become confused. The suttas which speak at a beginner level can be identified by who is delivering them, or who they are being delivered to. For example the Buddha would never be seen to say the path relies on craving because he normally doesn’t speak at the level of the conditioned path, unless addressing Ananda, Rahula, nuns, or laypeople.

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Thanks, I am talking about still being attached to happiness even as an Arahant.

No. Because the bliss that you are talking about here is the bliss that naturally arises as a result of letting go. There’s nothing you can do about that happiness, it’s the default once you completely let go.

You’re not attached to the bliss, it’s just that’s the way it is when you completely let go.You can’t let go of letting go because that doesn’t make sense. Well I suppose technically you could attempt to let go of letting go, but that would mean re-attaching, which is not what you are after once you have completed the job of letting go.


Thanks, is it possible to perceive attachment while being attached? Or does one only perceive attachment when he has already let go of it? Are there suttas about that?

Yes. You can only perceive attachment when you are attached, otherwise you would perceive non-attachment. But you can think that you’re unattached when in fact you are still attached.

It’s almost impossible to tell if another is attached or not from the outside. Sometimes non-attachment looks like attachment.

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thanks. OK, I asked the question because it is possible that one lets go and only then in hindsight sees that he was attached before. But your view is that one sees attachment while he is attached, do you know of any suttas about that?

Did the Buddha ever talk about attachment to happiness as a possibility? I know no sutta that talks about that.

Yes. I agree. That happens often doesn’t it? But you are looking with hindsight in these instances rather than ‘perceiving attachment’. But yes, “I was attached, I perceived that I was attached, then I let go, now I’m not attached” is a normal contemplation. What did that feel like, how did that happen, and how can I enable it to happen again are all good contemplations I guess?

Pretty much any of the practice suttas (e.g. gradual path suttas) talk about how to let go in one form or the other, but I’m afraid I’m not very good with references.

It almost sounds like the second noble truth doesn’t it? We suffer because we want stuff. And why do we want stuff? Because we think it’ll make us happy. We’re attached to happiness (or maybe the idea of happiness), but don’t know how to get it and because of delusion we keep grasping instead of letting go.


I meant suttas that say one can percieve the attachment itself while being attached. Maybe if someone knows such a sutta they can post it.

I meant being attached to happiness itself instead of being attached to things that might bring it. As far as I know the suttas talk only about being attached to sensual pleasure and to certain states of existence but not happiness itself.

Let’s take a really simple and concrete practice, like giving (dana). You have some food, you own it, you know that you own, it’s yours. Only then can you let it go, give it away, renounce it. If it wasn’t yours or you didn’t know it was yours, how could you give it away?

Ah, well I would suggest that the only reason we are attached to the things that might bring happiness is because we want to be attached to happiness. And there lies the problem, the wanting destroys the happiness.


I am not sure if that example is also true with more subtle states of attachment.

Does anyone have any idea where I am wrong in the above?

Have a look at AN 9.34

There the Venerable Sāriputta addressed the bhikkhus: “Friends, bhikkhus!”
“Friend!” those bhikkhus replied. The Venerable Sāriputta said this: “Happiness, friends, is this nibbāna. Happiness, friends, is this nibbāna.”
When this was said, the Venerable Udāyī said to the Venerable Sāriputta: “But, friend Sāriputta, what happiness could there be here when nothing is felt here?”
“Just this, friend, is the happiness here, that nothing is felt here.

Since everything you could feel is subject to the three characteristics (impermanence, suffering, and non-self), it is precisely because you feel nothing that it is considered happiness.

You might be confused because you think that nibbana is a blissful feeling. There’s actually no feeling at all.


Thank you Venerable, but does it also mean when there is nothing felt that it is really nothing in the sense that for example atheists mean when talking about what happens after death or is there still something left even though nothing is felt? If the first is true, than how can it be happiness?

I’ve been waiting for a good opportunity to share this (photgraph from Christopher Titmuss’ autobiography of artwork in a monk’s cell):

@stu, would you care to say a bit more about this, pl?


I spent quite a few minutes writing a reply. It all looked much too personal for this forum so I abandoned (let go of :wink: ) that I went out looking for something more generalised. I found this short Ajahn Brahm teaching on Attachment which covers most of the bases.

My only addition is that there are two ways of approaching the path. Using will-power, or abandoning-power. So an example of using will-power would be: trying to force attention onto the breath and keep it there. Many teachers use this technique, but I find that this technique eventually saps energy as we go deeper because using will-power is hard work. An example of using abandoning-power is progressively abandoning giving attention to those things that are not the breath. This technique is the opposite and takes no energy, it actually increases your mental energy. So what is happening here? In the first technique we are attaching to the breath, in the second technique we are progressively abandoning (letting go of) everything apart from the breath. Only the practitioner will know which technique they are employing.


That’s a nice analogy. I’ll read AB’s piece. Thank you. :pray:

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The Law of Dependent Origination (Patticasamupada) could be helpful to this discussion.

12 links in that law are:- 1) ignorance; 2) volitional actions; 3) rebirth consciousness; 4) mind-body phenomena; 5) sense spheres; 6) contacts; 7) vedana; 8)tanha (attachment); 9) grasping; 10) karmic actions; 11) rebirth; and 12) aging and death. They are 12 causes if looked from clockwise view as well as 12 effects if looked from counter-clockwise view.

Based on that Law, the Buddha attained the Buddhahood between 7) vedana (experience) and 8)tanha (attachment).

During normal time, the Buddha has vedana which is an effect of past-life producing khanda + contacts of present senses-3 vedanas (dukkha, sukha and upekkha). I remember a sutta where the Buddha praised a musician. It means the Buddha is praising from Vedana (not from Tanha).

What an Arahat differs from ordinary persons like me is that Vedana never changes to Tanha wich is a result of interpreting/reacting to vedanas by own prejudice.

With Tanha (attachment) in hand, people ususally commit karmic deeds under lobba, dosa and moha.

Arahats have already cut the link between vedana and tanha by cultivated wisdom.

Under deep lokkatara vipassana insight, they can meditate till the end or destruction of vedana, so body disappers and no more dukkha, sukha and upekkha arise from the contact (phassa) conditioning vedana.

Thanks and regards,

Nibbana is timeless - there is no time. Eternity, or impermanence is non relevant.
Time is sankhara.