... the road to July!

17 March, 2008

Detachment - An indispensable approach to life

Recently it was my sister, who welcomed the unseen colors of marriage in her life. This gave me a chance to observe the whole phenomena closely and served me with an understanding that, while marriage is one of the most important occasions in the life of two souls (bride and the groom), for the rest of us, it's ultimately an event or yet another gathering.

While whole of the family conundrum was restless and overly busy in synchronizing the innumerable tasks, these two souls were wandering in their own hypothetical world, quite detached from whatever is happening around. In spite of the whole day hustle-bustle they didn't know where their sleep had gone, they almost forgot to realize tiredness.

Play a prank on them, they don't mind it, tease them with anything possible, be assured to get that smile back always or give 'em some time alone, you'll realize the real importance of a mobile gadget or let anyone scold them, all they return is a silent gesture, as if they're saying, "Hmmm, thats okay, lets move on!".

It was amusing to see both of them hooked to each other almost 24 hours (metaphorically) a day. Were they enjoying the attitude of "Let go!" or better to say "the state of Detachment"?

All this caught my attention instantly and left me wondering if I can adopt such a state of detachment further in my life?

Its not that that I've not tried practicing detachment earlier but then the structured through process certainly makes any practice efficient and better. Therefore, it's important to understand detachment structurally before taking a conscious decision of practicing it.

Understanding detachment
In my sub-conscious practice of detachment earlier, I realized that detachment is widely misunderstood to be as the withdrawal from people, situations, places or life. Christians perhaps define it better as "divine indifference". But both these definitions without the deeper understanding look to be somehow misleading because detachment still doesn't stop you from sensing the needs and sufferings of others as if they are yours, which means there still is attachment left.

Even if the bride in the above example was detached, she was still involved with everyone closed to her in life, just that her consciousness now allowed her to think that it's okay if certain things are not the way, they should ideally/ supposed to be.

Looking at it this way means that even when we are detached, we still remain involved on a more divine level i.e. that of a human connection but become emotionally non-attached. I’ll perhaps redefine detachment to be as "
Non-Emotional-Involvement".

But isn’t it natural for us to be attached?
Given the fact that individuals who have evolved sufficiently to manifest detachment are few and far between, if they exist at all. Without such conspicuous role models, how can we be expected to approach life in a non-attached way?

To remain motivated in life, we need it every now and then. Thus, to lead life with detachment we need to remind ourselves of practicing it until it starts reflecting into our habit.

Why should one try to learn detachment?
It seems life always has some objects in the form of people, situations, and material things etc. that keep upsetting us. Often it’s the expressions of people, circumstantial disorders that humiliate us. How to handle them in life?

Detachment can be utilized as an emotional tool that enables us to overcome such situations and empowers us to overcome our own shortcomings.


But can we really remain detached?

Transition from the stance of attachment to that of detachment can't surely be smooth. Talking about it is one thing, practicing it consistently in day-to-day life is another!

It is to be learnt however that detachment can be manifested strategically by practicing.
All it needs the adoption of a thought that working with detachment is realistic and possible in its complete entirety. By practicing detachment, light of the evolution of your own consciousness benefits not only you but also the others around. Doing it with affirmation ensures for the environment to give affirmative response to you.

It may look from the outset that detachment is the personality trait but it is a mental skill that can be learnt by practice. Be patient with yourself, a conscious choice to practice non-attachment feeds immense energy to your learning process. It takes time to sort through and fine-tune all the various layers of perceptions involved.


Practicing detachment
Attachment perhaps means that the relationship with an object occupies an appreciable share of our mind space. Observing the patterns in the subconscious practice previously, I find the following steps helped practicing detachment better:

The first step to detachment is to shrink the size of the space occupied by that object in mind. Lets say, an unhealthy relationship is keeping me unfit then I should consciously try to make that relationship a smaller part of my life by making other parts of life bigger. Start to engage myself with other things I perhaps cherish; may be like sitting in the park for sometime everyday, joining the music classes, working out in the gymnasium, joining a club etc. Enriching our time with other people, places, situations and things, squeeze everyone's share in the mind. Occupy mind with new ideas and hence expanding horizons.

The second step is to realize that the other person's problem isn't yours. I can easily vouch that this statement is easy said than done, however, truth still be embraced. Recently my grand mother passed away, while practicing the last cremation rights, we asked a priest to chant some mantra(s) while someone gives fire to the body. Surprisingly this priest asked for an exorbitant amount to be paid for this service. Naturally everybody asked him to be justified while doing something of this sort but this person was just not bothered about anything but the money.

Later on I realized that it was actually our pain and not his, so it didn’t really bother him if the amount he asked was justifiable or not or if the kind of work he is charging this money for, it’s just a job for him, sooner he realizes better it is for him.

The third step is to set our boundaries, perhaps by spending less time with that object. Decline invitations upfront; use some phrases to avoid getting ensnared into hopeless situations. I have often noticed; while people talk, they try to sound too helpless (this may be an intention to involve you into the problem because it is into your capacity to solve) but I may not be willing to involve myself into it (for any reason), still I may want to express interest without offering to fix the problem. A statement like, "Hmmmm, thats really complicated, What are you going to do about it?" can help things getting better. Oh yes! I experienced all this very closely recently, which is an immense learning in itself.

The Fourth step perhaps is to practice, practice and practice


An adult is after all a child and nothing else
A child who loses a cherished object may wail and carry on like the world has come to an end but we adults perhaps know that it's the beginning for the child to get a better and bigger toy. The adult smiles and comforts the child; here the adult is exercising the detachment by wisdom gained from his life experiences.

However, if we look at ourselves, haven’t we developed so many attachments of our own (like a child develops for a toy) without any realization that they may not be ours or we may not have any control over them? Doesn’t it look like an illusive world? But we still are emotionally attached to so many things; therefore, experience emotions like anger, sorrow and grief when these attachments are taken away, Practicing detachment becomes so inevitably important to us as an adults and as they say:

"Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached"

3 comments:

Pankaj Gupta said...

Piyush Bhai,

The article you have written is well thought out and presented in an organized way!!

Now that you have struck my mind with the concept of detachment, I have some follow up questions/ thoughts

The four simple steps to practice detachment paint a clear picture, what can be done to evolve and enter into the phase of detachment.

1. Re-engagement process: The thought is practical, wherein you are trying to engage yourself in other activities, while you are trying to detach yourself from one. While you are in the process of detatching from a emotion, person etc, are you attaching yourself with another? So, is it a process, wherein your are trying to break old bonds and make new ones? More I think of it, it might be difficult to break those bonds instantaneously; off course it would depend on the level on involvement, you are definitely trying weaken that bond. That bond might finally break off, while new bonds are being formed. Now, during this re-engagement process, have you attached yourself to something else, which would require equal or greater effort to get detached; if and when you decide to detach from it?

2. Is it your problem: I think this is most practical thought, especially when you look into day-to-day life, where in you have to make decisions by keeping emotions aside. You have given a perfect example of the Pundit, who would charge whatever he charges for the services he offered. I think level of "minding your own business" would depend on level of bonding that you may have with that person etc. Let's say that the ceremony was being conducted by a priest, who was very much attached your family. He might not have charged any thing for that service or a nominal charge. In that case you would have offered him more as a courtesy than the amount he would have asked.

Another example I would take up is the very recent one, at my home bhabhi is expecting and the baby is due any time. Also, Akshay is not in his best health at this point of time. I know in both cases, is it not my problem and more I will be worrying about these, it will be problem for both the parties. But can I completely detach myself from these. Will my sub-conscious mind not remind me to check forhealth of both the persons at a regular interval of time? So, I think it may be fair to say that one must learn the "level or extent" to which the other persons problem is not mine; which would or should depend on your level of attachment with that person, which may be not worrying about it all the time but keeping a track of it. I do agree that getting emotionally attached with every person and thing that you come in conatct with, is not the way to go. But, I think, not getting involved in "any" person's problem to a cent percent is an ideal case, which should be followed if possible. Can practice take to you to acheive the ideal case?

Simple yet complicated tools such as yoga and meditation can help to reach the state of "detatchment" sooner than it would take otherwise.

I hope that I have not offended you in any way. I like the way you think..Keep writing.

With Best Regards,

Piyush said...

Hey Pankaj,

I think this is for the first time that I've received such a well thought response. In fact you have got the point in what you say, especially
1. To define the level of engagement with others.
2. Following other practices like Yoga and Meditation.

I have certain things to clarify here again though.

1. Re-engagement Process - While it is inevitable to create relationship with the objects you start re-engaging yourself to (e.g. place, people, situations etc.), it is however has to be remembered that a human has to keep evolving and practice the wisdom gained earlier.

Let's say, X(a male) finds his relationship with Y(girl-friend) troublesome to an extent that X realizes that it can't go any further constructively. However, during whole of the process, X also learnt the reasons as to why din't that relationship really work, which may be in reality X's shortcomings (like it may be that X's decision to choose that girl was determined by his desperation to have one which he'll never ever admit to her) or even if the problem was from Y's side. That troublesome relationship also never meant that X can't ever have healthy relationship with any girl in his life further (or vice-versa), just that X has to exercise the wisdom gained in this process and be cautious the next time (either by improving upon his shortcomings or to learn how to keep relationships healthier) by realizing that X has to keep detaching to all those objects slowly which makes him feel unhealthy.

In essence what I'm trying to say is that while we start to slowly engage ourself with the other objects, we have to keep exercising the wisdom gained in the previous process so that the next relationship doesn't become that troublesome and yes in my limited knowledge, it so far looks like an on-going process.

Keeping Object as Human as an example - If we look at the microscopic level, everyone of us have a defined nature ("Prakriti" in hindi), Ayurveda defines three types of Doshas to a human nature i.e. Vata, Pitta, Kapha. All of them have different kinds of impacts on human nature and one prakriti is naturally not compatible to another. Therefore, it is at the fundamental level that this difference exists. This means that we'll naturally have unhealthy relationships with other humans, just that we have to keep learning over a period of time to detach with all those thoughts that make us feel indifferent from one another and in this process, certain bonds are bound to break and new ones are bound to form but with better and structured understanding. A time will come when we'll realize that the soul of all the prakriti(s) is still the same and we'll not have any problems with any of the type, this is a higher stage of evolution and will come with lots of practice and wisdom.

"... Will my sub-conscious mind not remind me to check forhealth of both the persons at a regular interval of time? ..."

I certainly agree with you and I think I mentioned the similar thing as well:

"...detachment still doesn't stop you from sensing the needs and sufferings of others as if they are yours, which means there still is attachment left. ... I'll perhaps redefine detachment to be as 'Non-Emotional-Involvement'".

Just to re-emphasize again, this is common a myth that Detachment is the withdrawal from the objects, No it is not. Theory of detachment is perhaps difficult to accept because we hardly see anyone practicing it around us and the ones who are practicing may not have given a structured thought process to it, therefore, they are prone to our criticisms for being the self-eccentric souls.

About learning Level/ extent to which another problem is not mine - I think, I need to pick up this thought from you that learning to have your own boundaries is another step that can help practicing detachment better.

I've not been offended at all by any comment. Your analysis was even quite interesting.

Keep reading.

回憶 said...

wonderful..................................................