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.




2 thoughts on “Attachment and Detachment

  1. What a lovely read, deep thoughts. My point of view: I don’t think attachment is a bad thing as long as it doesn’t control your life, your actions. Same with expectations…we are mere mortals and not holy saints like the Buddha who can live with no expectations. There’s always expectation….in any and every relationship. Again, how realistic those expectations are, is what determines if it’s good or bad! I purely speak from my own experience of both, attachment (that lead me into a short lived yet deep relationship) and expectations (that finally led to the end of the relationship).

    Love is a funny thing. We love people and want them to know how we feel about them but sometimes circumstances are such that it’s better to love and not tell Or continue loving someone even when they are not part of your life…could be your partner, your parents, a friend…The kind of person I am, I’d love to tell someone I love him but just last night I wrote about starting the journey of loving and never letting them know.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I too struggle with detachment. I like and enjoy the joy that attachment to certain people and pursuits gives me. I think for me what works is not necessarily detachment but in its place: awareness of the attachment and the expectations that come with it. Like Maggie said, it shouldn’t control your life and I would take that one step further and say you should be aware of the extent to which it does. I would say that accepting things as they are is useful to a certain extent when there are things you have no agency over – when none of the factors are within your control. But accepting things the way they are when you have a chance to do something to improve your life or those of the people around you, is not necessarily a bad thing. And many of us mere mortals do crave some attachment to a life purpose: we must have a reason to keep living and fighting otherwise life seems increasingly pointless. So for me it’s a balancing act to manage what can be controlled and what cannot. Thanks for this, it’s a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

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