Thinking about worldly things is not attachment, being unable to stop thinking of them is
Attachment is a state of mental bondage wherein our thoughts compulsively gravitate towards the object of our attachment.
The Bhagavad-gita (01.01) begins with the words of Dhritarashtra that reveal his attachment to the Kuru kingdom, which he wanted to vicariously enjoy through his son. Because of his attachment, he became so emotionally and ethically stunted that even when his own nephews were being robbed and his daughter-in-law was being disrobed – even when such atrocities called for his immediate attention and intervention – he couldn’t stop thinking of the kingdom and feeling glee about attaining it soon.
Seeing how attachment can degrade dangerously, some people think that they should not even think of anything worldly. Significantly however, the same Gita (11.33) urges Arjuna to fight the Kurukshetra war and attain a flourishing kingdom by becoming an instrument of Krishna to establish dharma. To administer a kingdom, Arjuna would certainly need to think about it. This implies that thinking about the kingdom is not bad. Of course, the Gita’s consistent directive is to always think of Krishna and to think of everything in relationship with Krishna.
Gita wisdom re-envisions our various roles, resources and responsibilities in the world as services to Krishna. To have such a devotional vision, we need to invest time in thinking of Krishna exclusively through our sadhana, dedicated spiritual practices. If we can’t stop thinking of our worldly accouterments when we are meant to think of Krishna during our sadhana, that is a red signal of excessive attachment.
But if we strive to focus on Krishna during our sadhana and thereby become attached to him, then we can be engaged with worldly things without becoming attached to them. Thus thinking devotionally of various things won’t entangle us, but will expand our service to Krishna.
Think it over:
- Explain how attachment stunted Dhritarashtra emotionally and ethically.
- How can we see our worldly accouterments devotionally?
- How can thinking of worldly things expand our service to Krishna?
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