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The practice of detachment…

October 14, 2010


As we tumble on to a fascinating turn in human history, it would behoove us to take pause and consider this: if things as we know it are going to change, what are the qualities we most need in order to pass through what-ever it is that is coming with grace?

Now, you do not have to eschatologically inclined to see that such an attitude or desire is not out of place in everyday life either.

Change, as we all know well, is the only constant. My next breath, could be my last. Every instant, I am different. A million cells gone, a million new ones to take their place. Aging, grey hair, some change comes slowly, other leaps out at you.

Every day is different. Every moment is different. Even as you read this, you are forever different from what you were at the start of the sentence.

We are, after all, what we con-sume. And we are built for consumption. From the moment of inception, we are con-sumers, taking in the raw material to transmute into the stuff of bones and flesh and finer things like mind and thoughts. We consume gross things (raw food, cooked food, water etc.) and subtle things (all of our senses are con-sumers of input, light, sound etc.). What our system needs, it takes to form a layer and the rest goes back to the mix.

So, whether growing or de-caying, change is the constant.

Trust me, or don’t, but to make change your friend is a good thing. I know I’ve tried to make it that way and it is not easy. Change, big change especially, demands sacrifice.

And what sacrifice does change ask of us? It asks us to release, to let go. That which is meant to stay, stays, that which is meant to go back in the mix, returns to the mix. So hard in practice.

We give up things when we are either tired of them or when they are taken away from us. For the rest of the time, we hold on, store, possess.

The more attached we are, the more the “loss” hurts us. Think of things that we are attached to, Gollum like…. they put invisible hooks into us, tugging every time detachment is threatened.

And the nurture part of the great nature/nurture duo in whose womb we mature, teaches us to hold on. Not consciously but un-consciously. If you take the thread and follow it back far enough and then take the journey forward, you realize that all attachment has at it’s root, the fear of death.

By dying we come into this world. The fear of dying again, (especially given how new birth has become and I’ve written about this before) makes us addicted to sex. Immortality through off-spring. But somewhere along the way, we got attached to the pleasure principle of the whole procreation game.

Produce an off-spring and it starts a whole new wave of attachment.

So, how does one gently remove the chains of attachment?

How do you love fully while being fully detached?  Is that an oxymoron?

Is detachment selfish?

The Buddha or one of the Buddhas, in the Heart Sutra, captured the essence of the point-less-ness of attachment. When it is all born of Ku, emptiness, can it be anything other than emptiness?

And why is the practice of detachment more important than ever now?

Look at what the people of Iraq have lost. Look at what the people of Afghanistan have lost. Look at what the people of Iran stand to lose. Look at what America has lost…..

As we come tighter into the hard spinning center of the vortex, it will be harder and harder to hold on…. things, people even thoughts will be pulled in all directions….

Knowledge of the “self”…… so that you know what emptiness truly is….

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha

Gone gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the beyond, enlightened, so be it!

When the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
was coursing in the deep Prajnaparamita,
he perceived that all five skandhas are empty,
thereby transcending all sufferings.
Sariputra, form is not other than emptiness
and emptiness not other than form.
Form is precisely emptiness and emptiness precisely form.
So also are sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness.
Sariputra, this voidness of all dharmas
is not born, not destroyed,
not impure, not pure, does not increase or decrease.
In voidness there is no form,
and no sensation, perception, volition or consciousness;
no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
no sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought;
there is no realm of the eye
all the way up to no realm of mental cognition.
There is no ignorance and there is no ending of ignorance
through to no aging and death and no ending of aging and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no cessation of suffering, and no path.
There is no wisdom or any attainment.
With nothing to attain, Bodhisattvas relying on Prajnaparamita
have no obstructions in their minds.
Having no obstructions, there is no fear
and departing far from confusion and imaginings,
they reach Ultimate Nirvana.



11 Comments leave one →
  1. cathartes aura permalink
    October 14, 2010 5:47 am

    many questions posed here, I’ll just pick at one or three. . . “change is the only constant” yes, and attachment to the present because of fear of change is truly futile, we know this, but still feel the gnawing in the pit of our stomach as the present slips from our grasp, over and over every second. . . just now, much of the world appears to be going through a shift, a change, and we are as always helpless to stop what is already happening. . . we are here to witness, to embody the change as gracefully as we can. . .

    attachment is fear, always – fear of change, of loss, when if we look back in our memory we can see that change is inevitable, and often brings what we could not image-in, which is necessary to being alive, hmm.

    hands balled into fists, whether in anger, resistance, pain, grasping. . . hands can be relaxed and open to holding by others, open to being gifted with surprises, extended to assist, give, soothe. . . we all need to relax our hands and minds, and just breathe into the change as it presents itself in every moment. . .

    we have never been in control, even for a moment, even if we believe otherwise, temporarily.

    • October 14, 2010 6:11 am

      Beautifully resonant sentiments CA.

      That last line deserves in-query all by itself.

      We have never been in control, only fooled by a similitude of it…

    • Nadall permalink
      December 26, 2011 10:23 pm

      How wonderful to re-hear. I’m gratefully becoming grace full (I pray)
      Timelessly timely.

  2. D a r i n a JOY permalink
    October 14, 2010 6:48 am

    Beautiful indeed! And so meaningful & timely as I was personally letting go of so many ideas, beliefs & excuses in the middle of the stark beauty of NM’s Ghost ranch…

    Great questions and answers in & b/n the lines… I still echo with this one:
    “How do you love fully while being fully detached?”

    It reminds me of a favorite saying:
    “Wisdom tells me I am nothing.
    Love tells me I am everything.
    And my life dances in between.”

  3. Vee H Wong permalink
    October 14, 2010 9:52 am

    Procreation is a byproduct of sex (or is it the other way around)? Dying, loss, immortality, desire, eternality; all beautiful experiences.
    Detach, we try. Emptiness? Can that be everything. Are we not test subjects (objects) of the Great Nature / Nurture Lab (or simply a higher order)?
    Going through it/them, we will; unless we “desire” a shortcut (wormhole) into other dimension(s)?
    I can tell I am ready, NOT!
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Robert permalink
    September 26, 2011 6:54 pm

    Picked this blog up from Zerohedge. Thank you for sharing the link whoever you are. Incredibly thought provoiking stuff, especially since I just linked to it from an economics blog… I was expecting your “getting simple” as just a tick list of things to de-clutter your life.. Wasn’t expecting all this….

    • September 28, 2011 5:04 pm

      😉 Glad it was a pleasant surprise for you Robert. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Stephen Baze permalink
    December 27, 2011 5:17 am

    Vivek and all – I have been contemplating the idea of how do we put ourselves into a relationship fully and stay detached as well ? Seems to be the LOVE game we all play at different times in our lives. In all honesty I don’t have any solutiuons or magic answers that would achieve any of this ? Simply seems to be one of the great dichotemies or whacked positions we put ourselves in and seems to have no real absolute answers . just people stuff and simply part of the life game . Sometimes brutally difficult aned sometimes sweet as honey ! A real balance would be nice but I have never found such to last for any length of time .

    • December 27, 2011 6:42 am

      Stephen, thus the challenge of finding that place where an oxymoron like detached attachment needs no explanation.
      Words fail fast near that place anyways, it’s how/what you feel that matters.

  6. Kapnos permalink
    May 15, 2015 8:55 am

    Even more so at this point in time. I think, I will practice it till it becomes a way with me 🙂 (Which is true for all things worthy)

    Dhanyawaad, Vivekjii


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