Many people mistake “detachment” as aversion for the world. Aversion is a negative attachment, i.e. NOT detachment.
True detachment is a great harmonizer and not something that disharmonizes and messes up one’s life. Sadly, lives are thrown off balance due to attachment to an immature ideal - an ill-conceived idea of “detachment”!
Attachment is the tendency to feel either attraction or aversion for some situations, outcomes, actions and people. One holds oneself and others responsible for various experiences and actions and thinks that one can control them.
An analogy will be very useful here.
When I do something (e.g. think and type this), billions of cells in my body are involved in that action and do their part. They may think they are doing something, but it is I who is doing something! I am forcing all those cells to engage in various actions and interactions. Together, they are all accomplishing something that they are not even aware of.
One cell may be pushed by another cell or receive an electric pulse or a chemical and may find it pleasurable or painful. It may love or hate the experience and love or hate the other cells.
But I am their master and doing everything. Of course, I am not explicitly and consciously controlling all those cells, though my consciousness is distributed across them and makes them work. It happens implicitly and there are some natural laws that govern the working of all the cells, how they interact, how they are sustained, destroyed and recycled. If a cell does not effectively do its designated work, these laws correct things over time so that I function as a whole.
We are just like those cells!!!!
As supreme being does various things, billions of us are involved in it. We do our parts, but we never get the big picture (like cells in my body do not know that they are doing their part in my typing this). We may think we are doing something, but it is Lord (or his potency) who is doing. We may love and hate our life situations and other people in them, but they are mere instruments.
Though it is God’s potency that does everything, his consciousness is distributed in all of us and makes us work. It happens implicitly and there are some natural laws that govern it. We should trust the natural laws to sustain, destroy and recycle us. We need to recognize the work designated to the consciousness distributed in us, learn to enjoy it and do it effectively. At the same time, we should recognize that our role in limited and not agonize over what is not in our control. We should have faith in the higher force to take care of the big picture well.
Detachment is different from either aversion or frustrated resignation. Detachment comes from recognition, and complete surrender to, a higher force that is using one and those around one as instruments.
It does not mean reliquishing either experience or action or trivializing instruments delivering them, but recognizing the real doer of it all and having complete faith in that real doer and the wisdom and long-term fairness of His laws.
This can only enable one to go through the experiences and actions with a calmer mind and harmonize one’s interactions with other instruments!
Even when killing a Ravana or a Drona, a Rama or an Arjuna can still have a heart filled with love and respect.
Looking at other people around one as instruments in the play of a higher force can promote empathy for them and harmony in dealings.
One facing an unfavorable situation due to someone else’s actions and seeing it as an act of a higher force and the other person as a mere instrument, will not habor ill-feelings and waste time and energy hating that person.
One still does what is in one’s hands, but leave what is not in hands to the higher force. One sees even what one does as work of a small part of that higher forces distributed in one.
Instead of regretting past or worrying about future, instead of being proud of past or dreaming about a future that one falsely believes is ensured by one’s current actions, one focuses on current action and leaves the rest to the higher force. And one looks at others around with empathy and camaraderie.
Faith in the wisdom and long-term fairness of the master, in whose body we are trivial cells, can also help ease fear of disease, suffering and death and make us calm, confident, optimistic and blissful.
A detached person experiences things and he does things, but he realizes it as but a minute portion of the work of Lord’s potency and not of one’s doing or that of people around one. He does not think “my friend did this to me”, “I achieved this” etc.
But a detached person is not a stone or a robot. One can still tell dessert from bitter melon. One can still tell praise from abuse.
When doing something nice or harsh to someone, one can still recognize that the other person is pleased or pained.
But a detached person accepts and enjoys whatever experience comes to him “here and now”. He sees it as God’s act and does not attribute it to people around him, whom he sees as instruments.
At the same time, he sees the spirit of enjoying things and the spirit of doing the right thing, inside one, as minute portions of the higher force and takes them seriously. Yet, he realizes their minuteness and does not take them seriously enough to agonize over what is out of control of that minute portion of higher force.
Whatever he feels like doing and is able to do, he will do. At the end, he will see Lord’s potency as the doer of everything. It uses every being in cosmos to do whatever is suitable for that being. One lets the aspect of distributed consciousness that is working through one do whatever feels right at that time.
If the correct action to do is not clear and various dharmas one has towards various entities are clashing and pulling one in different directions, one does not overly agonize about it.
After all, the belief that one is the doer and responsible for everything related to an action puts all pressures and brings agony.
In the absense of such agony and pressure to perform the pefect action, each action does not linger in his mind for a long time even after the actual action and there is no agonized effort over a long time to justify the action to oneself! These are the BIG dissipators of energy!
Some are proud of their “detachment” and try to flaunt it - what an irony!
Real detachment does not involve making a show of it or trying to make others appreciate one for one’s actions.
It involves enjoying what comes one’s way, without worrying about what else could’ve come or what else may come later.
It involves sincerely and earnestly doing what one feels at a time - correctly or incorrectly - as the right thing to do. It involves faith in the mastery and fairness of the higher force that is doing everything.
At the same time, it involves taking seriously the minute portion of the action designated by the higher force to a part its consciousness operating through one, but not seriously enough to agonize over things that minute part has no control over.
It is a great harminizer. It enables effective actions by a focused, assured and calm mind.
Don’t be afraid of detachment. At the same time, don’t be attached to an immature and ill-conceived idea of a self-centered detachment that messes up your life (and that of those around you!) instead of harmonizing!
Don’t have a self-centered faith of convenience in God. Instead, have unshakable faith in a fair God who is beyond your conceptions, before whom you and everybody around you, despite the any apparent differences in spiritual caliber, are mere cells in a human body!!!