Detachment — Freedom From Anxieties of Life

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Detachment — Freedom From Anxieties of Life

Monday, 18 October 2021 | Vijay Singal

Bhagavad Gita has time and again stressed upon the need for non-attachment (or detachment) to the material things and worldly concerns. Detachment is stated to be the means through which one can gain true knowledge, serenity of the mind ; and enduring joyfulness. In short, through detachment, one can learn to be comfortable with oneself. Constant practice of non-attachment can eventually lead to the attainment of spiritual freedom.

Sri Krishna has declared that action is caused by inter-play of gunas (modes of material nature) with each other. But due to false ego, one considers himself to be the doer of all acts ; and, therefore, gets attached. Attachments undermine one’s ability to think rationally, speak discreetly and act judiciously. As a result, one is caught in the vicious circle of insatiable desires, intense emotions and endless miseries. On the other hand, the one not attached to the fruits of his actions, remains ever content and free from any worldly dependence. Internally he does nothing even though externally remains ever engaged in work. It has, therefore, been urged that one must do his assigned work without being attached to his actions or the results of those actions.

There is a lot of confusion and misconception about the real meaning of detachment. The doctrine of non-attachment has often been used as an excuse for evading essential duties of life such as earning respectable livelihood, respecting personal relationships and fulfilling social obligations. But a true spiritual person can never run away from his responsibilities. He can never distance himself from the sufferings of his fellow beings.

What, then, is the real meaning of detachment. It is not about renouncing the world. It rather implies maintaining internal emotional composure amidst the best and the worst of the circumstances.

Detachment means living without a sense of ownership and working without a sense of doership. Sri Krishna has advised that one should detach his understanding (buddhi) from everywhere. In this manner, one can attain the state of highest perfection. It is a state of being in which one overcomes his likes and dislikes for worldly objects, people and events. The one who has cultivated such an attitude of detachment, he remains undisturbed with whatever happens in life. He does his best in the role which his position in life demands of him, without worrying about success or failure. Whatever be the circumstances, he remains focussed on his work at hand. Detachment, thus, brings skill in action.

A detached person accepts the outcome of his endeavours with grace, and with an attitude of gratitude. He remains calm and composed even while under maximum pressure. He, thus, gains freedom from bondage of works. He obtains a higher and broader perspective of life.

It has also been advised by Sri Krishna that while not being attached to the fruits of his actions, one should not at the same time be attached to inaction. Detachment, thus, does not mean withdrawing from the world and denying oneself the pleasures, and trying to evade the pains, of life. Detachment does not mean creating a physical distance from or an emotional barrier between the family, friends and other loved ones. It is rather the art of loving everyone immensely, without any intention of controlling anyone or the willingness of being controlled by anyone else.

Detachment is not about external things, but internal attitude. Non-attachment does not imply having no desires or emotions ; or not doing an action which ought to be done. It simply means that one should have control over his desires, emotions and actions. He should not be a slave of his impulses. Instead of suppressing his feelings, one should gain mastery over them.

A man of detachment has an equanimous mind. Even while outwardly remaining fully involved in the events of the ephemeral world, inwardly he remains fully established in the eternal self. He remains unaffected by the outcome of the worldly events. Neither he gets excessively elated while the going is good, nor he feels overly dejected when life becomes unduly harsh. Gently he negotiates every rising and falling tide of life.

Detachment is the art of letting go. It is about seeing people, things  and   events as they truly are, and dealing with them accordingly ; without clinging to any of them. The one who has perfected this art stops taking things personally. He lets go of painful memories, harmful thoughts, insatiable desires and detrimental habits. He, thus, ceases to dwell in the past and also gives up anxieties of the future. He becomes free from emotional baggage and, hence, overcomes sufferings.

Detachment is not something into which one can leapfrog. It is rather the process through which one cultivates gradually an attitude of glad acceptance of the circumstances, as they present themselves, from time to time.

To conclude, all of one’s cravings and feelings are the result of one’s attachment to his ego-centric living and self-centred thinking. Attachment, thus, causes fear, worry, resentment, jealousy and discontentment etc. etc. And freedom from attachment is the freedom from miseries of life. It is the freedom of the soul. One realises his true nature to be pure joy.

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