It’s fascinating to read and hear stories of wandering monks without possessions and detached from worldly life living in an eternal state of bliss.
As fascinating as it may sound but the transformation from a materialistic, infested with endless rising desires to possess and exercise control to exhibit power to becoming a Vairagi; a wandering Yogi, is both challenging and time consuming, also requires your complete dedication.
A major difference between materialistic worldly men and a Yogi is that worldly men consider the external material world as absolute reality and neglect the internal world, whereas a Yogi knows that inner world is more real than the outer world of matter. A Yogi by engineering and moderating the inner world creates a balance between both the worlds (inner and outer).
Before delving further into the concept of detachment, let’s understand the concept of attachment.
Why do we feel attached?
Animals are creatures of habit and to some extent we humans too, are attached to certain habits which differs from person to person.
During early childhood when parents teach their children the basics of life they also teach them what rightfully belongs to them and what doesn’t.
This is yours and this is not yours.
A child grows up in a world of “mine and not mine“. It’s often seen how possessive children are about their toys, they would often cry and express anger if their toys are given to some other child.
This possessiveness and a sense of ownership grows with the child. By the time a person reaches his adulthood, he has a strong sense of attachment to all the people, objects he possesses, dreams and aspirations fed to him by others.
In the current society, we push our children to pursue wealth and power. A rule has been established by the modern society that the human life only has value if he possesses wealth/power. In this blind rat race and ego flexing there is hardly any scope left to pursue higher values of life and knowledge.
Centuries of neglecting high moral values and glorification of wealth at the expense of morality has resulted in the decadence of our society as a whole.
The problem is not the pursuit of wealth. The problem is the obsession, the madness behind it. The popular idea where the barometer of success is only wealth and power, is the cancerous virus of the modern society.
A great musician, vocalist, artist, poet, philosopher, dancer etc is not respected unless he can manage to amass a sizeable fortune for himself. Such is the situation that mediocre artists and singers who can accumulate wealth are idolised. They are not idolised for their skill, they are idolised for the wealth and influence they possess.
Ironically, great classical musicians and vocalists are regarded as mediocre by the masses because they do not indulge in a vulgar ostentatiousness, appreciated only by a minuscule crowed who have a profound likeness and admiration for the perfection of the art.
This obsession with glory and fame is the main culprit for today’s stressful society. Humans like other creatures are hedonistic in nature. We seek pleasure for the senses and avoid pain and sorrow. There’s an innate love for the self and the well being of the self.
The Vedas and the Upnishadas describe the nature of the self to be “Satchitananda“. Satchitananda (सच्चिदानन्द) is a compounded Sanskrit word consisting of “sat” (True Existence), “cit” (Consciousness) and “ananda” (Eternal bliss).
The nature of the Ātman; the true self, is of bliss. Therefore, every conscious Jeeva seeks pleasure in the external world and avoids pain/displeasure.
Assuming the Body as the true Self
Considering the physical self to be the real self, whereas physical body is a mere equipment of the consciousness. We use this body like a machine to perform different tasks and self-maintenance.
Thinking of the body as the true self makes us vulnerable to the pleasures and discomforts of the body. The life thereon has no deep purpose other than self-maintenance and pleasure hunting. Consequently, we end up becoming slaves of our own senses. This is often described as delusion or Maya.
The attachment to the senses results in attachment to the world and desire to obtain objects of the senses is born. The bodily senses are limited but the desires are limitless. Desires keep on replacing one another.
The habit of desiring
We become good at what we do everyday. By continuously chasing desires and feeding our ego, the attachment to the material world has grown beyond control.
This uncontrollable urge of desiring pushes the mind in a cyclone of thoughts. A state of mind where the rush of thoughts is beyond control and results in distress. This constant rising cyclone of thoughts is the cause of anxiety, depression, psychological disorders and anti-social behaviour.
This is a dangerously impulsive state of mind where a person loses control over his rational thinking and actions. Often we see this in form of road rage and other anger related issues.
Detachment requires an elevated state of consciousness and a profound understanding of the true self. A deep contemplation through meditation is needed to understand the intricacies of life and the world that we live in.
The transient nature of the material world is to be known, understood and contemplated upon. Every perceptional reality is subject to change. Only thing constant in life is change.
Change is the inevitable reality and nature of life. Attachment is when we try to cling on to objects of our desires by fighting the change itself.
Death is the inevitable truth of life yet when someone close to us dies, it brings us immense sorrow and pain. Often we think, why death came to us? Death comes to everyone, it’s just a matter of time.
Death is beyond human control and that’s an established fact by every religion.
A religion only has an existence because of death. If there was no death, there would be no need for any religion, ritual or philosophy. The fact that every form of life or inanimate eventually comes to a sate of non-existence or a state of formless existence.
Gautam Buddha might have left his body 2500 years ago but do we consider him dead or do we say that he now has a formless existence. The Buddha now lives in the consciousness of millions of people in the world though his body passed away long ago.
Can we really say that the Buddha exists in a formless state?
We still talk about the Buddha, we write Books about him. People are still inspired and fascinated by his life and teachings. His teachings are equally alive today as they were during his lifetime 2500 years ago.
Controlling the Mind
The mind is always restless, impatient and under the drunk influence of sensual pleasure. Our mind is the most complex piece of machinery known to man. A person can be a very good doctor, lawyer or a businessman but that doesn’t qualify him to become the master of his own mind.
Mastering your mind is a serious business, science of all the sciences and probably the most discreet knowledge on the planet. Most people just go by their whole life without ever knowing that the mind can actually be controlled and the energies of the body be mastered and channelised.
Detachment from the Senses
Most people often misunderstand detachment from the senses as neglecting the senses and the body. The true knowledge means to be detached from the pleasure hunting of the senses and provide an ideal environment to the body and the mind to exercise control over the them.
For example; the food that we eat should not be chosen on the basis of taste rather it should be nutritious to provide all the essential elements required to run the body efficiently. A person who is extremely attached to pleasure of the tongue finds it extremely challenging to enjoy a salad or fruits or a simple bowl of curd-rice.
Vairagya or Detachment in Yoga is always in the context of the sensual pleasures. Detachment means to give up mental slavery of the senses and liberate yourself from the bondages of the sensual slavery.
When attachment to all the pleasures of the senses perish, a human being then experiences a different state of consciousness which is known as enlightenment, awakening or Satori.