“Indifference looks like detachment, but it is not; indifference is simply to have no interest. Detachment is not absence of interest—detachment is absolute interest, tremendous interest, but still with the capacity of non-clinging. Enjoy the moment while it is there, and when the moment starts disappearing, as everything is bound to disappear, let it go. That is detachment.” ~ Osho
This week I focused on Law 6 from The 7 Spiritual Laws of Yoga (Deepak Chopra)–Detachment.
The first line of the chapter from this book states: “…reveals a great paradox of life. In order to acquire something in this world, you have to relinquish your attachment to it. This doesn’t mean you give up the intention to fulfill your desire—you simply give up your attachment to the outcome”. The emphasis on simply is mine. Simply? Gee, if it were simple, I don’t think I would be where I am today, how about you?
It’s not like this is a new concept at this point. If you look at Law 5, detachment is an important part of intention and desire… you can read more about that here. However, it is important in and of itself, and is a huge component of living a contented life.
I have come to the conclusion (sort of strong word for me, as I always reserve the right to change my mind based on new information) that the seeking is the problem. When we seek specific outcomes, we limit ourselves and create a barrier to contentment that simply doesn’t need to be there. When we cease seeking and just reside in the experiences, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly…then no matter what we get, or don’t get, we can be pretty darned cool with it.
This, however, is not an excuse to become Eeyore, which was the extreme my father lived in—”best not to expect or hope lest you are just disappointed”—still gives me the heebie-jeebies.
This is not about letting go of hope or trying or striving—it’s actually the most hopeful state of being I have experienced so far in life, you have to have a lot of faith in goodness and meaning, though it’s not for the faint of heart.
This is also NOT about sitting on your couch waiting for things to fall in your lap….or an excuse as to why you haven’t ever done anything—we still need to be engaged and active, but for the sake of the action, not the outcome!
“Those whose consciousness is unified abandon all attachment to the results of action and attain supreme peace. But those whose desires are fragmented, who are selfishly attached to the results of their work, are bound in everything they do.”
~ Bhagavad Gita (c. BC 400-, Sanskrit poem incorporated into the Mahabharata)
Some of you may prefer the term non-attachment, although I think if we define detachment in the aforementioned manner, this is merely a matter of semantics. Too often detachment has gotten a bad rap because people have used it as an excuse to not participate.
“To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness.”
~ Erich Fromm (1900-1980, German born American social philosopher and psychoanalyst)
In Deepak’s book, he states:
“The only true security comes from your willingness to embrace the unknown, the realm of uncertainty.”
But I think many people have discovered this truth for themselves…it’s the old story of the bar soap…the tighter you squeeze, the faster it slips out of your grasp.
“When you learn not to want things so badly, life comes to you.”
~ Jessica Lange (1949-, American actress)
“By letting it go, it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning.”
~ Lao-Tzu (BC 600-?, Chinese philosopher, founder of Taoism)
From the perspective of practicing yoga, Deepak lays out these three steps:
1. Practice detachment—One goal of yoga is flexibility, for which detachment is an essential feature. Attachment breeds rigidity. Allow yourself and those around you the freedom to be natural. Notice that when you force solutions on problems, you often create new problems that didn’t previously exist. From the experience of asana, relinquish your attachment to an idealized pose. Yoga is not a competitive sport and you will not achieve integration of body, mind and spirit through force and effort.
2. Embrace uncertainty—Watch how creative solutions to problems spontaneously emerge out of chaos!
3. Surrender to the field of pure potentiality—Focus your attention and intention, then release your attachment to a specific outcome and observe how it easily falls into place.
As with all things, we walk the middle road…be wary of those that tell you to disconnect from life to find something.
Be wary of those that say it’s all about achieving a specific goal.
Somewhere in the middle are the juicy bits of life, a place of detached involvement that has you living your passion while enjoying what the universe brings your way. Now that’s a JUICY contradiction!