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The Human Condition

Part One

  • Please download the video to watch.      IMG_0474

  • Rather than explain the video, please study it and notice what you see.

  • Then, ask yourself what does the video express about the human condition?

Part Two 

First, I am going to go through the dialogue and action between the mother and her 16 month old little girl.

Not for You

This is how the mother begins in the video. It appears the mother knows her little girl wants to get the remotes that are resting on the arm of the couch. The mother repeats, “Not for You.”

The child gets excited with her mother’s admonition. She turns towards the mother after she has touched one of the remotes.

The mother repeats her admonition with an encouraging comment,

You Know Those Aren’t for You.

The mother confirms to the little girl what the little girl knows. “You know those aren’t for you.” Again a repetition. The remotes are not for her. The child picks up two toys from the couch and what looks like a plan, tries to conceal her actions. She tosses both tops to the floor while hiding the remotes with her body.

I see you. No, no. Can you give it to Mommy. Give the remotes to Mommy. Give them to Mommy. Please. Please Please.

The child feigns giving them. The mother changes her voice and becomes even sweeter, “pleez…pleez”….the mother cajoles extended. “Give them to Mommy. Oh NO! Can I have them please?” The child gives her foot as a substitute.

The little girl offers the mother the remotes…but takes them back.

I don’t want your foot.

The mother is exasperated. Exclaims with a sigh, “Oh, child.”  and tells her child that she knows they are not toys. Near the end of the video the mother says, “stinker.”

Part Three


At this point, the child has entered the realm of attachment.

What makes this important spiritually?

Desire followed by attachment are hindrances to awakening.

The little girl shows us the desire-to-get-what-she-wants is paramount.

It appears that we are born with a desire-to-get-what-we-want. This beiing the case, we can see the uphill climb we have to be free of a desire. 

Our sense doors focus outward making us prey to wanting and attachment to what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch. The little girl, at such a young age, illustrates how desire and attachment work in concert with one another.

In a spiritual practice we need to know when desire is arising. This is no simple task. But if we study our tendencies that arise in the mind we can begin to spot the desire and prevent it from taking hold as an attachment.

Buddhism, along with many other traditions single out desire as one of the three major hindrances of freedom. Adam and Eve were in paradise and had access to whatever was in paradise except for one thing. They, like this charming little girl, could not keep their hands-off the forbidden thing. We are all like this child.

“We want what we want when we want it!”

How many things, (persons, places, stuff) have you been told or know for yourself that – that thing is NOT for YOU. When the mother tells the child to leave that forbidden thing alone, she takes it anyway. The mother’s interaction is the way in which the mind develops a conscience.

The admonition: NOT FOR YOU is brilliant. It is worth repeating and repeating and repeating as the mother so carefully and clearly did. It is a mantra for all of us.

When we are capable of spotting desire in ourselves, we need to purify our tendency to fabricate the desire into a habit. You see, once it becomes a habit it enters the second hindrance of attachment.

The child exhibited an attachment to wanting the remotes. She puts a scheme together to distract the mother with the two colorful tops, Then she throws them on the floor followed by using  her body to hide the forbidden remotes.

Isn’t that what we all do when we want to get something that is forbidden…not good for us. The mother knows beforehand that her daughter wants the remotes and gives her a mantra:

Not for You

But the mantra does not hold her. The desire apparently has paired with attachment. The little girl has to have the remotes. 

My friends, this is what we do. We want something we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and imagine. The object becomes a mental form in our mind and we imagine getting the object. Now we are not obliged to follow the desire-attachment binding. There are always WARNING SIGNS to stop going after whatever object we want. Much like the child, however, we press on with distractions, decpetion and acquisition.

NOW…once we act on desire we enter the grip of attachment! Spiritually, this desire-attachment pairing is a big hindrance to liberation. Let me say that again. Whatever you are attached to ignites all sorts of tendencies to get and keep whatever thing you wanted. Once we get attached to a thing, we are bound to it. Being bound is not a liberating state of mind. Being bound is suffering.

When we get attached we bind ourselves to the thing.

What follows being bound?

Disappointment and disenchantment. Yep. that’s what follows.

This scenario is a mental activity. The little girl acted on her desire which led to attachment followed by  disappointment. She liked the game of wanting, getting, having, teasing, keeping and…well…attachment.

Yet, if we study ourselves carefully we might be lucky enough to see our disappointment and disenchantment She got what she wanted but it did not satisfy her. Isn’t this true for you? Find out for yourself.


The spiritual adept recognizes being bound and begins to wonder how to get free. Detachment is the method that leads to freedom. But it does not happen until the spiritual adept studies the mind enough to see how and what binds them. Whatever it is, it comes in the form of mental formations.

Simply put, the adept must study their mind.

Are you able to do that for yourself? Or are you prone to find yourself in sticky situations not knowing how you got stuck?

Detachment comes when you realize that you tied yourself to a post.  When you feel sick and entangled in your head, you are getting a chance to get free. Thinking it is the external conditons, however, is not the way to liberation.


The video of the little girl ended without knowing whether she gave the remotes to her mother or not. But our work is to do our very best to purify the mind in such a way that we are able to relinquish all the things that bind us to the material realm. The delusion we suffer is that we think and believe that if we get what we want, we will be happy.

Check with yourself. How long did that happiness last? It, like everything in this world, is impermanent. So, it does not last because everything changes. BUT…giving the thing to Mother is an act of relinquishment.  Mother in this case is that which is unborn, undying, immutable. Mother may take the form of an ideal, or an inner sense, or an icon that speaks to your heart.

In simple terms, detachment is Giving-to-Mother what we  possess in the mind that cause suffering.  What are those things. you ask?

The best approach is for you to study yourself and note what are the things in your mind that you have made into habits. All the stuff you think you cannot live without. All the things that you somehow mistakenly identify yourself as being. The word identify and possess are strong give-aways to helping you decipher what things bind you to a position in the world. Opinions and views are just two simple examples.

Giving-to-mother is a difficult act as the little girl exemplifies. We do not want to give-to-mother, whether it be a physical person or an ideal of that which is beyond the material world. As long as we think that the material world is what will free us from suffering, we are bound to suffer.  We do not see that the thing we want and attach to is a binding that keeps us ignorant of who and what we are.

Desire and attachment bind us to the material realm. It is as simple as that. The emphasis is on attachment. Desire is at the root of our suffering and attachment binds us to the suffering. In all spiritual traditions, there is a method of relinquishment and renunciation. We are asked to give away the attachment; letting go is the most common admonition. Let ,whatever it is, go.  

As long as desire and attachment abound, we cannot know our true nature. We remain chained and tied to the things of the world that are born, age, get sick and disappear.

We must be Mother to ourselves. Although exasperated by her child’s attachment, the mother in the video did not give up. She persisted in teaching her child to let go of that which the child wanted, took and kept. The spiritual adept needs to practice mothering to the self that wants, takes and possesses.

The repetition of NOT FOR YOU is a start.


Don’t Give Up. Keep Going.

Humming Bird

May we with all beings

realize the empriness of the three wheels,

giver, receiver and gift.

Author: Fashi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at:

Humming Bird



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