The Eight Worldly Concerns and How They Block Our Spiritual Progress

eight worldly concerns and block our spiritual progress

Understanding The Eight Worldly Concerns

Let us take a closer look at the eight worldly concerns so that we can gain a better understanding of how these affect us and how we can get rid of such attachments.

1 and 2 – Hope for happiness and Fear of suffering (Pleasure and Pain)

All of us want to feel happy and avoid suffering. It is our natural tendency to seek pleasant experiences and detest negative experiences in life. In fact, the more we experience happiness, the more afraid we become of suffering and pain. Hence, when suffering arises, we are unable to accept, acknowledge or overcome it.

According to Buddhism, there should always be a balance in everything in life. “When there’s humility, frugality, and fairness, there’s no place for excess. Buddhist philosophy dismisses desires and wants,” explains an article in Exploring Your Mind.

We should focus on moderation and wholeness and not worry about our desires. When we are able to detach our conscious thoughts from materialistic and selfish desires, we can experience compassion, wisdom, inner peace and spiritual growth.

3 and 4 – Hope for fame and Fear of insignificance (Fame and Disrepute)

As we are social creatures, all humans seek external validation and recognition. In fact, most of us are rather obsessed with fame to some extent. The more we desire recognition, the more we make external validation a priority in our lives, we become increasingly attached to it.

As a result, we end up constantly seeking it, whether in real life or on social media. And when we are unable to receive the recognition we want, we suffer from stress, anxiety and low self-esteem. This not only affects our mental and emotional well being, but also our spiritual progress. 

The realization of our own insignificance can become significantly more damaging when we experience criticism, disapproval, blame and censorship. The harder we work to gain external validation from others, the deeper we end up in anxiety and suffering. This is one of the most important eight worldly dharmas.

Related: Equanimity In Buddhism: Understanding The Fourth Kind of Love

5 and 6 – Hope for praise and Fear of blame (Praise and Blame)

Whether we admit it or not, most of us have a fragile sense of self-worth and self-esteem. And this makes us desire praise and detest blame. Praise makes us feel motivated, inspired and validated. It builds our confidence. Or at least that’s what we believe.

When we seek praise and are unable to receive it, we begin to start doubting ourselves. And as a result,  our sense of self-worth, self-esteem and self confidence begins to shatter. As we stop getting praise, we become obsessed with covering our flaws, imperfections and mistakes so that people cannot find out about our insecurities and vulnerabilities.

However, we need to realize that self-esteem and confidence are not dependent on external validation or praise. It is only by acknowledging our imperfections, working on our insecurities and being genuine selves, can we truly be confident. Exploring Your Mind states “If you’re always aware of what others think or say about you, you’ll hinder your own growth.”

7 and 8 – Hope for gain and Fear of loss (Success and Failure)

Material possessions and the fear of losing what you have is perhaps the most crucial concern out of the eight worldly concerns. Most of us strive to buy the best things money has to offer – from expensive gadgets and latest technology to fancy cars, big houses, gourmet dining and branded clothes. We believe that buying more things will make us happy as these are important for our social status and existence.

Expensive material enables us to build and maintain an image of ourselves. However, soon after you have bought the latest new thing, the happiness surrounding it disappears. In fact, when we are unable to buy new ‘things’, we start to suffer and become upset at our condition.

This is why it is crucial that we learn to detach ourselves from the lure of material possessions. Just as much as you celebrate your successes, you also need to accept your failures as well. Life is uncertain. And when we can detach ourselves from having or not having ‘things’, we can finally learn to be happier from the inside.

Related: Buddhist Prayers for When You Need to Be Resilient

eight worldly concerns
The Eight Worldly Concerns and How They Block Our Spiritual Progress
Scroll to Top