You must recall the words "salvation" or "liberation" that are used in all religions. The final goal of all religions is salvation, or emancipation, or whatever word is most suitable in each language. But all these words have the same meaning -- getting saved. All religions teach salvation. Yet, from what are we saved? We are saved from spiritual prison. The thing that all of you want and need even right at this moment is the thing called "freedom" or "liberty," which is, simply, escape from prison. Whether a physical, material prison or a mental, spiritual prison, the meaning is the same. In all cases, we want freedom.
Those who lack wisdom can see and fear only the physical, material prisons. But those who have the wisdom (pañña) to look more deeply will see how much more terrifying and dangerous the spiritual prison is. Really, we can see that hardly anybody is locked up in the ordinary jails, while everyone in the world is caught in the spiritual prison. For instance, every one of you sitting here is free of the ordinary prison, but you all are incarcerated in the spiritual prison. That which drives us to be interested in Dhamma, to come to study Dhamma, to practice mental development, is the oppression and force of being caught in this spiritual prison. Whether you feel it or not isn't important. It forces us, no matter what, to struggle and search for a way out of spiritual imprisonment. Nonetheless, it's forcing all of you, whether you realize it or not, to find spiritual freedom. So you come looking here and other such places.
Although that which imprisons us is only one thing, namely, upadana all by itself, this prison takes on many different forms. There are dozens of styles and kinds of prison. If we take the time to study every type of prison, it will help us to understand this phenomenon much better. Then we will understand upadana better, and we also will better understand tanha (craving) and kilesa (defilements of mind) which, according to the Buddhist teaching, cause dukkha. We will understand the issue of dukkha if we understand the issue of prison clearly and thoroughly.
I'd like to advise that you use this word "upadana" instead of "attachment" or any other English translation. Those English words are constantly being misunderstood. You may not understand it fully at this time, but try to use this word upadana to accustom your mouth, your mind, and your feelings to it.
We must realize that the heart of Buddhism is to wipe out upadana. The heart of Buddhism is that which gets rid of upadana, or cut it out. Then there is no prison, and then there is no dukkha.
You must take the meaning of the English words attachment, grasping, and clinging, then combine them to get the meaning of "upadana." It's better for us to use the word upadana. Its meaning is broader and it will enable us to look into this matter more deeply and extensively.
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