Probably the most common question I receive is some variation of “what is attachment and how do I get rid of it”? It is a vexing problem for a teacher, especially one who teaches people brought up in a Western tradition. You see, we Westerners are materialistic in a way many other cultures are not. Now, I do not mean this as a criticism of Western culture.
By materialistic I do not mean greedy, selfish or shallow. It is just that our society places a great deal of importance on “things” on “ownership” and “possessing”. One might argue that this is one of the things that has made Western culture so successful in this realm. However, it does often cloud the thinking when it comes to the Buddhist concept of attachment
Many Westerners brought up in a Christian tradition believe that by avoiding attachment we mean retreating from the world, giving away our possessions and living in poverty. This is ironic because that is precisely what Jesus taught. However, in Buddhism this is not the case.