Attachment and Detachment

In Hindu religion and philosophy, the suffix “….ananda” to someone’s name is awarded (one could ask, by whom) to a person who has reached the perfect state of “Ananda”. Hence Vivekananda, Parmananda, and other such “anandas” had or have reached the stage of perfect ananda. Makes sense? Absolutely!

This perfect stage involves amongst other things, a state of detachment from all things material and personal. Attachment to people, things, money and the like prevent us from reaching a state of perfection in mind and soul. I have seen close up a living example of a person who seems totally detached, and does not react to provocation, is slow to anger, and has an air of serenity that I cannot help but envy. This person practices meditation 7 days a week, and has an air of equanimity that you will rarely find in people. However, he claims that he is far from reaching such a stage. He still works part time, but just to keep me happy, and spends the rest of his time in either meditation or in service to his sect.

I, on the other hand, find it impossible to detach from relationships, whether it is to my work, or to people I feel close to. The mere fact that I feel close to some people, am passionate about my work, golf and writing (when I have time that is), I often commit to relationships with people unconditionally. Despite this so called un-conditionality, these relationships breed expectations, which arise both in me, and also in the person to whom I am attached. So detachment is not something I have either wanted, or considered desirable. Ananda also gives one a state of complete contentment, with no desires, and no negative emotions such as greed lust anger and the like.

When I ask myself whether I would like to achieve that idyllic stage, I do not have an answer. At times like this in my life, when I am beset by a troubled mind, and unresolved angst, I yearn for that detachment that would allow me to accept things as they are and not feel the stress and anxiety of life’s unresolved challenges. But then, I think of the relationships that give me joy, and the pursuits that give me joy (such as travel, writing and golf) and detachment from them seems senseless and pointless to me.

I do not know if this casts me as another mere mortal. But if it does, I am happy to be another mere mortal. The pursuit of the state of Ananda, while it seems a very desirable objective seems inconsistent with the material world. And I belong to the material world in every sense of the expression. But the strange thing is that this same very detached person that I described above told me one day that if he has seen anyone who does not need all the things that helped him achieve his present state of mind, it is me. He said there is an inner peace within me that people will find hard to penetrate. This left me baffled, because I do not feel that peace internally.

Detachment is a state of mind that would be very desirable. But is attachment a bad thing? Are expectations a bad thing? Attachment leads to expectations, and that is a bad thing? I do not know if anyone else has views about this. I would love to hear from anyone who reads this. Is love equal to attachment? Or is it so unconditional that it does not matter whether the person you love even knows that you love them? Or knows and does not care?

Do you have any views? Please let me know what you feel.