Detachment in Worldly Life


by Jayaram V

A river flows because it is not attached to the earth. Jayaram V

Liberation in its essence is true and complete detachment in all aspects of life. In a general sense it means to be able to sleep well despite problems and worries. Jayaram V

In Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism detachment (vairagya) has a great significance. Detachment means not having any physical or mental connection with the things of the world or with your own mind and body or with your achievements, qualities, fame, name, status, etc. Attachment to things interferes with your thinking and makes you blind to certain truths of life. When you are attached, you lose balance, and seek things that may harm you both physically and spiritually or impede your success and progress. Every habit that you form is an intense kind of attachment only. Whatever you like, be it a person, profession, religion, state or condition, is also an attachment. Collectively they bind you to this world and make your life a great struggle as you cannot easily let go of things and move on

Many people who are deeply drawn into worldly life do not even know that they are bound by attachments. They do not consider it a problem because it seems so natural to like or dislike the things of the world. Those who know about it vaguely may think it is something about which they do not have to worry. For many people, the idea of detachment invokes images of sadhus and sanyasis who have renounced the world and lead an ascetic life. It seldom crosses their minds that the practice of detachment can give them wings to fly freely in this trouble ridden world.

It is true that detachment is the foundation for spiritual life. You cannot progress far on the path of liberation without cultivating it. With detachment you can cultivate sameness towards both pleasant and unpleasant aspects of life and avoid unnecessary stress. You cannot fully control what happens to you, but you can control how you can respond to it. It is in using that choice that detachment can play a significant role.

Hindu ascetics take the practice of detachment to extreme so that they become fully detached mentally and physically from their minds and bodies and develop great fortitude, equanimity, will power, concentration, patience, and tolerance. However, with the practice of detachment you can greatly control your responses to external and internal events. If you believe that detachment is good for only spiritual people, you are missing a great opportunity to stay in control of your thoughts and emotions.

Whether it is in personal life or professional field, you can use detachment to manage your expectations and protect yourself from the emotional consequences of setbacks and failures. It will also help you think clearly, without worry and anxiety, and make better decisions. You can also improve your chances of success by focusing upon your performance rather than the outcomes. Most importantly, with detachment you will have an open mind, and you will learn quickly from your failures.

Therefore, if you want to have peace of mind, learn to let go of things. Do not cling to your relationships, not become excessively involved with them. It is always better to keep a little distance and give some space to others in your relationships. Do whatever is necessary for reaching your goals, without worrying what may or may not happen. Focus upon your tasks, what needs to be done, and how it can be done and give your best, leaving the result to God, the Supreme Self. Taking things lightly, not taking life too seriously, and letting go of things, these are a few very important beginner’s steps that can really help you stay in control of your emotions, life, and relationships.

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