Posted on December 13, 2010
When people imagine a path of spiritual enlightenment, they sometimes assume it is synonymous with being a recluse. The notion of leading a spiritual lifestyle can invoke images of monks in secluded monasteries or a call for an esoteric lifestyle. Conversely, some may relate it with the culture of the sixties, an era of free expression and non-conformity. So what does it really mean to lead a spiritual life?
In fact, we are all on a spiritual path, whether we realize it or not! We are all spiritual beings, and the purpose of spiritual knowledge is to help one understand and experience themselves as they really are, an original soul, and to re-discover their innate spiritual qualities of peace, love, truth and power. However, knowledge alone is not enough. We also need to take time out to reflect, experience and emerge our true nature. Through the art of meditation one can set these original qualities in motion.
Raja yoga meditation is a universal approach to spiritual awakening and self-development. The word meditation is derived from the Latin word “mederi”, which means to heal, to take care of, and to cure. Meditation can certainly be defined as a healing process; healing the mind, body and soul. The connection between the soul and the body is such that dis-ease within our consciousness will also manifest as some type of disease in our physical body. When healing, one needs to mentally step away (detach) from the pain to uncover the causes of physical suffering. For someone on a spiritual path, to go deeper within to understand the root causes buried deep within the consciousness, is the beginning of the healing process.
Detachment then, is a crucial pivot to gain perspective or objectivity in our healing process and it is an avenue to tap into our inner wisdom. Detachment in this sense does not mean to be aloof, cold, or uncaring. At the simplest level detachment means to stand back, that is, to keep some distance between the conscious “I” and our actions or thoughts. To be ‘detached’ means to be an observer. This attitude of being a ‘detached observer’ allows us the space to gently and constructively judge, and then transform our feelings and behaviours, thus bringing us into harmony with our innate qualities and allowing an experience of unconditional love.
Imagine your-self standing out at sea in a lighthouse and looking toward the mainland. Or imagine flying high on a two-seater plane over the country, or standing on the top of a cliff looking down at the valley. With this broad, bird’s eye view, one can begin to see the bigger picture as one detaches from the details of the situation. We are no longer caught up in the trivialities of everyday life. A heightened level of clarity and calm comes to us without effort. It’s possible to appreciate life in a fresh, new and encompassing way.
Real detachment is to involve ourselves in the drama of life and yet not be attached to it. It means to be giving and loving without feeling that we need to take anything. It allows us to receive without the pain of wanting or longing. This fine balance is a state of equilibrium that will take time to acquire, as we gain enough experience to bring maturity, confidence and stability in our lives. But it is not difficult given the right understanding.
Spiritual wisdom tells us that when we attach our consciousness to anything we lose a certain amount of our freedom to it. Try this exercise. Sit in a chair and pretend that the chair symbolizes everything you have. Now hold onto the chair as tight as you can, because you can’t afford to let go of these attachments, they mean too much to you; they represent all your securities. Are you holding tightly? Now try and move with the chair. Can you do it? Can you do it easily?
When you are sitting in the chair you and the chair are attached. It is controlling you. It is dictating your posture, your comfort, or lack of it; it is restricting your movement. Once you get up and separate yourself from the chair, YOU have power over it and can move it easily where and when you want. You realize you are not the chair or, have to carry the burden of it. With objectivity you can put the chair down and distinguish between yourself and the chair, giving yourself the opportunity to make choices and decisions from a place of detachment and freedom.
The same principle applies to relationships. When we are attached to an object or person, they, or it, are in our consciousness: we are attached by an invisible thread. There is a mental bond, an internal link we feel. This is very natural, of course, but when this attachment consumes us, the thread can become like a heavy chain, it can become the seed of fear: fear of loss, damage or change. This fear and insecurity creates life-draining emotions, and attitudes such as anger, envy, jealousy, possessiveness, begin to arise. When these emotions are present, can we love, can we be caring, and can we allow others to love us?
Fear and love are opposite emotions that don’t co-exist, like day and night or hot and cold, or winter and summer. The power of detachment fosters and nurtures spiritual love. It releases us from the need to hold on tightly to things or people as we realize we are not our insecurities.
This ancient wisdom has been around for thousands of years. However today, in our modern, busy lifestyles, we don’t value looking closely into the inner recesses of our soul. On the contrary, the consumer society encourages us to look outside our selves: buy this; obtain that; achieve the other; appear like this, all in the hope of discovering our real self. From a purely spiritual perspective, attachment is a grievous misuse of our energy and time, especially our attachment to our self-image
The lotus flower is a universal symbol that epitomizes the attainment from the power of detachment. It grows in dirty, stagnant water yet it holds its head up high, and brings beauty to the world around it, pure, positive energy. As you involve yourself in the mud of daily living, remember, that you are so much more than that. Even while you are entrenched in situations, detach from the ‘doing,’ detach from the ego, and awaken your consciousness. Your inner qualities will emerge. Peace will flow through you, and touch all that is around you.
So if you had plans to flee from the drama of life and hibernate in some corner to attain inner peace and love, think again, for that is neither the meaning nor the experience of leading a spiritual life of detachment
It’s time… to experiment with the art of detachment and see how it brings freedom and tranquillity in your life. The extent to which we experience love, self love, and to love those around us is, paradoxically, the extent to which we remain detached, free from negative thoughts … to be the lotus- unaffected by the surroundings, and at the same time an example of beauty, simplicity and dignity.
Share these thoughts! ‘It’s Time…’ is spreading far and wide! Feel free to forward this wisdom, but to avoid any karmic rebound, please acknowledge its source –
‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London