In the path of life accepting just whatever comes along,be it pleasant or challenging, is really important. In all our roles as social beings, fulfilling our responsibilities to the fullest is something we cannot escape from. Being involved in duties and relationships with others in the family and larger society, causes us to develop deep attachments with people and even material things which we possess. Eventually we lose our sense of individuality and end up investing all our happiness and disappointments in interaction with others. This extreme attachment is what binds us to life. It keeps us motivated towards performing our duties or ‘karma’. While it’s true that without being wholeheartedly involved in any ‘karma’ or duty, it is difficult to perform our best, in most cases however, too much attachment invariably leads to stress and anxiety. We not only get deeply attached to our relationships and assets but also to our work or actions.
Infact as the famous words of lord Krishna in The Bhagwad Geeta reveal “Karmanye vadhikaraste, ma phaleshu kada chana”. This means that an individual’s only right is to his duty or deed but not to the results of that effort. These wise words were a preaching from lord Krishna to Arjun, who was caught up in a tough moral dilemma during the battle of Mahabharata. Till date this principle is a guiding light to several people in their spiritual journey. A true understanding of this wisdom is infact the only way to render one’s karma objectively and with faithfulness. This however is an arduous challenge for most of us. How to keep our emotional over- dependence on our possessions at bay? How to suppress our ego if at all we aim to obtain liberation from the rigmarole of material life? The answer to this dilemma can be found in several popular religious and philosophical doctrines. Infact the ancient Hindu scriptures talk about an Ashrama system where post middle age all people must deliberately let go of the humdrum of home, social and political affairs and give one’s life exclusively to meditation and achieving self harmony. This of course is a very systematic way of letting go of an individual’s ego and all his or her earthly attachments. Similarly in the Buddhist and Jain school of thought a lot of importance is ascribed to detachment. All these religions highlight detachment as a power which enables a release of unnecessary desires and consequently from suffering. What keeps a person from attaining a peaceful state of meditation is the magnetic pull of material pleasures and needs. Due to the attachments formed with persons and things in the physical world, the journey inwards into one’s own soul becomes impossible. Mindfully practiced detachment from things is the only solution to this challenge. Only when one understands that he or she is a meagre element in the universal scheme of things and is a reflection of the paramatman (the supreme soul), does it become possible to surrender one’s ego. As Mahavira has opined, “The most important principle of environment is that you are not the only element.” Only when the ego is repressed can a person integrate with the paramatman and achieve liberation.
Interestingly even empirical research in neuro and psychiatric science provides enough reasons to believe in the importance of detachment for a peaceful ending of life. World renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr Peter Fenwick also mentions the indispensability of learing how to detach oneself in his epic work on near death experience. He has explained how unless one lets go of his worldly bonds an easy end of life is not possible. Those who relentlessly worry about their relatives and assets continue to remain in the state of ‘unfinished business’. There is no peace and liberation for those who cannot rise above their attachments and they continue to undergo a huge mental turmoil when their lives come to an end.
No matter how ironical it seems but the connections which we spend all our lives in making, become the biggest obstacle in the path towards spiritual liberation, if we fail to gradually learn detachment. When the body itself is only a transient phenomenon then claiming ownership of anything else remains merely a myth. In the words of Swami Vivekanand, “We are attached to our friends, to our relatives; we are attached to our intellectual and spiritual works; we are attached to external objects, so that we get pleasure from them. What, again, brings misery but this very attachment? We have to detach ourselves to earn joy.”
(Hailing from Dehradun, the author is a graduate from Delhi School of Economics & a freelance content writer on social issues & spirituality)
Friday, 28 June 2019 | Saumya Pande Mittal | in Devbhoomi Spiritual
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