Attachment makes us psychologically rigid, detachment makes us psychologically flexible
A tree that is stiff breaks when battered by strong storms, but a flexible tree survives. What applies to trees also applies to us.
We all have our attachments. These make us want and demand that things should be done in particular ways or that people should act in particular ways. But our expectations and demands are often thwarted by the way the world works. And such twists and turns of life can seem stormy to us. Indeed, most of the emotional trauma that we undergo during life’s ups and downs is not so much due to those events themselves as due to our attachments. Such attachments make us psychologically stiff, unable to cope with life’s uncertainties.
The Bhagavad-gita (13.10) mentions that detachment is a characteristic of those in knowledge. One purpose of knowledge is to enable better functioning. If we know someone well, we can anticipate their behaviors and mood swings, and mold our work accordingly. Similarly, if we know the nature of reality, we can live with it better. And undeniable is the reality that we have only limited control over things. We may have the best of intentions and plans, but reality can upend them all in one moment. Only if we are detached can we be flexible enough to accept reality and find a way that works in the changed reality.
Ultimately, the best way to cultivate detachment from the world is to cultivate attachment to the overseer of the world, Krishna. If we stay connected with him, we experience inner security and stability, thereby increasing our capacity to face outer change.
When we give up our attachment to doing things our way, we often become more receptive to other ways of getting those things done. Such flexibility makes us more resourceful in executing our responsibilities. Thus, paradoxically, attachment impedes us in being responsible, whereas detachment helps us act more responsibly.
Think it over:
- How does attachment make us stiff?
- What is the best way to cultivate detachment?
- How does detachment help us become more responsible?
13.10 … Detachment; freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest, even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; … [ – all these I declare to be knowledge].
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