What is detachment?

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Bay Harbor, Maine – Grand Hotel premises

20150210_154440 20150210_154621 How do you define detachment? First off, attachment is a cause for misery per the yoga sutras. Per sutra 1.15, renunciation is the practice of non-attachment from desires (Light on the Yoga-sutras, BKS Iyengar). For this to happen, one has to practice sadhana which is perseverance in practice itself. One has to train the mind not to get attached to any pleasures that is derived from the senses. A mother can be so into looking after her child. Is this attachment? A student, who has worked extremely hard, is expecting good results. Is this a fair attachment? In the mother’s case, she gives infinite love to her child. As long as there is no expectation from the child in return, she is still practising detachment. Same with the student. As long as he or she puts in all the effort, he or she doesn’t really have to expect good results. Such will be the confidence in him or her that there will be no material expectation. As the Gita says, do your best and forget about the results. If this is followed to the core, then it is detachment. Take Wall Street or Corporate career for example. Everything is geared towards something in return – whether big or small. There is no way you can practice detachment in these places. After sometime in one’s career, one could be perfectly happy where they are and might do their best and not expect anything more. That is indeed detachment. Whether that helps one survive in that sort of world is another question. The point is as long as there is attachment, there is a reason for disappointment and misery. After all, once one gets past a certain stage in life – which can be different for different people, as he or she looks back many of the accomplishments will turn out to be insignificant. What matters most is health and happiness. Thus there is no point in trying to attach oneself to anything else. Whatever gets you these two, as long as you do your best in attaining these, you can rest assured of the results and thus be detached.

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