Originally published in New York Spirit
Once a seeker went to meet a renowned monk. Eager and enthusiastic, he was preparing to ask complex questions about life that often bothered him. He entered the room and was confounded to see it without any piece of furniture. The monk was calmly sitting on the floor.
“Holy man! Where is your furniture, if I may ask?”
“Where is yours?” The monk chuckled.
“Well, I am a tourist here so I cannot go on carrying it!”
“I am a tourist too, I will be gone, just as you will be.”
Most of the times, we become attached to the ‘furniture’. When a tourist becomes attached to anything, the journey either becomes a tough ride or halts at one place only. This furniture should just be a means of comfort and not transform into an albatross around the neck.
Should I go to the Himalayas and become an ascetic?
If you want to go there, you should. That too would give you an experience. Maybe you will become ‘Buddha’ from ‘Siddhartha’. At least, you would know whether it is what you wanted or your mind was just glorifying escapism.
In the ancient world, we have heard about sages and seers who left the materialistic world to seek truth and return only when they were enlightened. They return to impart wisdom to the mankind, to fulfill their part in the universe, to participate in life while being detached from the circumstances, cravings and desires of this world.
Then how do I, who is actively involved in the world and has no forest left to go to in search of wisdom, practice this spiritual path of detachment?
I like the word non-attachment better than detachment. Non-attachment is when you are present and aware of life and nothing more is needed to make you whole. You have the furniture but you do not carry the burden of it around. The desire, the expectation that this furniture will make you happy is the illusion that should be broken. You are not escaping from the world but dropping the desires to own things, people, relationships and the assumed happiness out of them. You own nothing and nothing owns you. You are flowing with life and all your actions aren’t attached to their reactions.
Non-attachment should bring growth, expansion of mind, joy, gratefulness, bliss. If you are feeling the opposite emotions, chances are that you are beating yourself to become the ‘non-attached’ without fully comprehending the meaning. It is not a spontaneous act. It won’t come easily. It doesn’t have to.
How do you love without attachment?
Love can only be without attachment. Attachment is for your sake. It means you are extracting the pleasure or usefulness out of the person. Your so-called love is being selfish and conditional. When you are not attached, you love unconditionally! When it becomes the state of your being, you simply love! It overflows. You love the sky, the birds, the trees, and the person. You are not jealous or possessive. You are not playing mind games to get someone. You are not in relationship to pull out happiness because you are afraid to be alone. You cannot love anyone if you cannot love your own solitude. This kind of love won’t fizzle out after initial spark because it is not based on illusory perceptions or hidden selfishness.
How should I practice non-attachment?
It will take a few growing years to reach that stage. Do not be in a hurry to reach but make sure to begin this journey within. Understand that your aim is the well-being of the soul. The soul doesn’t care about your successful job or the outside image. It gets nourishment from introspection, meditation and deeds of compassion.
Minimalism should come from within and not forced upon. De-clutter your space, your life, your surroundings as often as you can. The soul doesn’t need a thousand pairs of dresses. It needs just enough. It reduces your mental burden. Contentment is the key.
Understand that sukkha and dukkha (Easiness and Sorrow) are the natural facets of life. Your state of mind can remain calm, knowing that ‘this too shall pass’. When you know ‘this too shall pass’, you are not attached to any of the situations. Each situation is an opportunity either to learn or to share happiness. Accept and flow with whatever comes your way.
Relationships should become a means of growing together. There should be no possessiveness or jealousy but freedom in this spiritual relationship. “What is in it for me” is not a relationship but a business deal. The attachment of my opinions, my beliefs, my ego, my respect, my image, my needs, my expectations cannot co-exist with love. In love, it all becomes ‘you’ and ‘us’. It will thrive when this purity comes from both ends. Even if a relationship ends because the equilibrium ceased to exist, it won’t make you hateful.
Kindness, compassion, empathy, doing good should be done for the sake of it only. If you are doing it because you think that is the way to heaven or some good will come to you, you are attached to the result. It is maligning your goodness. It is pretentious good then. Be kind because that’s the way to be.
You won’t lose anything when you won’t cling to anything. Non-attachment, hence, is the road to end the mental suffering. Eventually, when one master it, becomes enlightened, it ends the physical suffering too. Nirvana. Moksha.
May we flow like a river- giving yet unattached!
On a voyage of exploring this never-ending world of spirituality. They say it gives you tranquillity and true happiness. When I feel enveloped in calmness, I sit down to write about the serenity around me and the experiences that taught me the truest meaning of life. Find me in Science of Mind, New York Spirit, MindBodyGreen, PranaWorld, Sivana Spirit, Saevus Wildlife Magazine and more.