Alobha (Skt, Pali; T. ma chags pa; C. wu tan) is translated as "non-attachment". It is a mental factor which is defined as the absence of attachment or desire towards worldly things or worldly existence. It causes one to not engage in unwholesome actions.
Alobha is identified as:
- One of the twenty-five beautiful mental factors within the Pali tradition
- One of the three beautiful roots (sobhana hetus) within the Pali tradition
- One of the eleven virtuous mental factors within the Abhidharma-samuccaya of the Sanskrit tradition
- One of the ten omnipresent wholesome factors within the Abhidharma-kosa of the Sanskrit Mahayana tradition
Nina van Gorkom states:
- Non-attachment, alobha, is one of the three sobhana hetus, beautiful roots. A root (hetu or mula) gives a firm support to the citta and cetasikas it arises together with. All sobhana cittas are rooted in non-attachment, alobha, and non-aversion, adosa, and they may or may not be rooted in wisdom, panna. Thus, non-attachment has to accompany each sobhana citta.
The Atthasalini states:
- ... absence of greed (alobha) has the characteristic of the mind being free from cupidity for an object of thought, or of its being detached, like a drop of water on a lotus leaf. It has the function of not appropriating, like an emancipated monk, and the manifestation of detachment, like a man fallen into a foul place...
The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:
- What is non-attachment? It is not to be attached to a mode of life and all that is involved with it. It functions in providing the basis for not being caught up in non-virtuous action.
The Khenjuk states:
- Tib. མ་ཆགས་པ་ནི་སྲིད་པ་དང་སྲིད་པའི་ཡོ་བྱད་ལ་མ་ཆགས་པ་སྟེ་ཉེས་སྤྱོད་ལ་མི་འཇུག་པར་བྱེད་པའོ།
- Non-attachment is the absence of desire towards [samsaric] existence or worldly things. It makes one not engage in negative actions. (Erik Pema Kunsang, Rigpa Translations)
- Detachment (ma-chags-pa) is a bored disgust with (yid-‘byung) and thus lack of longing desire for compulsive existence (srid-pa) and objects of compulsive existence (srid-pa’i yo-byad). It does not necessarily imply, however, total freedom from all longing desire, but just a degree of freedom from it. Detachment may be from the compulsive pursuits of this life, from compulsive pursuits in any lifetime in general, or from the serenity of a release (Skt. nirvana) from compulsive existence. It serves as a basis for not engaging in faulty behavior (nyes-spyod).
Contemporary scholar Steven Goodman states:
- Nonattachment is the state in which one is not attached to anything that occurs in this life and all the things involved with it. In fact, many Tibetan Buddhist teachers have said that the primary difference between an ordinary being and one who really has a spiritual calling—one who may be, as is said in Buddhist texts, “on the path”—may be linked to this factor of nonattachment.
- Berzin, Alexander (ed.), Primary Minds and the 51 Mental Factors, StudyBuddhism
- Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed. (2000), A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, Pariyatti Publishing
- Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2014), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University
- Goodman, Steven D. (2020), The Buddhist Psychology of Awakening: An In-Depth Guide to the Abhidharma (Apple Books ed.), Shambhala Publications
- Mipham Rinpoche (2004), Gateway to Knowledge, vol. I, translated by Kunsang, Erik Pema, Rangjung Yeshe Publications
- van Gorkom, Nina (1999), Cetasikas, Zolog
- Yeshe Gyeltsen (1975), Mind in Buddhist Psychology: A Translation of Ye-shes rgyal-mtshan's "The Necklace of Clear Understanding", translated by Guenther, Herbert V.; Kawamura, Leslie S., Dharma Publishing
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