Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

It's just coffee (aka how we dress up our attachments)

July 29, 2013 3

It’s been a few days since I completed my write-up on emptiness for Rinpoche’s blog. I’ve been thinking about the teachings since and something I saw online today prompted further thoughts.

It was a blog post about a girl who frequents coffee shops, and she was discussing the perfect outfit for a coffee shop. It was an enjoyable post, being humourous, light and easy to read. But something didn’t sit quite right with me and after some thinking, it dawned on me what was so unsettling about the whole post.

It’s a coffee shop. It’s coffee. Is a coffee shop and drinking coffee such a big deal that it warrants a discussion about what clothes we wear to it? Is it such a big deal that we need to take photos of our outfits, provide context to the whole situation and then ask for people’s opinions?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept of inviting interaction by asking for people’s opinions. And it’s not her I’m criticising nor the coffee-drinking subculture that exists all over the world. Coffee tastes great, and I enjoy good coffee as much as the next person (although I’m more of a tea drinker). It’s the dressing up of the whole affair that perplexes me.

It's just coffee

It’s just coffee

All that talk about the provenance of the bean, the perfect accompaniments, the best time to drink it, the best place to drink it, the best food to eat it with…it has now got to a point where people talk about the best clothes to wear when drinking it.

But when you strip the activity down to its bare minimum, it’s just coffee. It’s coffee being drunk in a nice, comfortable, trendy environment. We so quickly forget that 10, 20, 30 years ago, it was the same thing, just coffee in a different environment, in a different time when people considered different things to be trendy.

And that’s when I realised that we do an awful lot of dressing up in our lives. We create a perception or an image around an event to appeal to the consumer when at its very core, the essence of the activity remains the same. So what is it that people are really attracted to? Is it the activity, or their perception of what the activity entails and can do for them? That’s when I recalled Rinpoche’s teaching on attachments and how they create and perpetuate our samsara, and prolong our suffering in endless eons of cyclical rebirths.

And this dressing up, this perception, it shifts as time goes on. So why bother? Why make such a big deal out of something that isn’t permanent? Why impute so much value onto something that is only as valuable as you imagine it to be? Because our karma created from previous lifetimes propels us to cling on to these attachments again and again, building them up in such a way they become ever more desirable to us (I’ll blog more about this soon!).

Does it mean I don’t fall for all of this dressing up? Hell no – I love new things, I love good food, I love pretty clothes and I love pretty spaces. I am as much a part of the problem as everyone else but I’ve come to realise that our attachment to these perceptions is a problem. We keep chasing after the latest, the best, the most fashionable but at the end of the day, the things we cling on to as the latest, the best, the most fashionable all change. And although it’s all changed, in chasing, lusting, desiring after all of these things, we keep creating the karma to experience the chase again and again and again.

So much energy, so much time, so much effort and all of it for what? Because at the end of the day, it’s just coffee.

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3 Comments → “It’s just coffee (aka how we dress up our attachments)”

  1. Jim Yeh 10 years ago   Reply

    This post reminded me of Rinpoche’s Poem “Essential Thoughts”.

    “When we enjoy nothing made into something,
    Then something that is worthy becomes nothing.”

    I’m a coffee-lover myself, only because it helps me stay awake.

    • Elena 10 years ago   Reply

      Hehe I was waiting for your comment, knowing you offered two coffee machines to Rinpoche and Joy 🙂 wait’ll you read the posts we wrote up for Rinpoche’s teaching on emptiness in Dukkar Apartments, you’ll love it. Rinpoche talked about the way our attachments perpetuate our suffering and hinder our realisation of emptiness.

  2. Jim Yeh 10 years ago   Reply

    Haha! Honestly, when I first saw the title. I thought you were gonna diss caffeine and how we’re so attached to it. Phew!

    I look forward to your next post!

    (Are you gonna post it here or on Rinpoche’s blog?)

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