Let’s see here how Patanjali defines detachment in the Yoga Sutras, in sutra 1.15.
Detachment is a crucial quality in the path of yoga. But to many of us, it sounds so cold. Being detached would seem like we just don’t care. So, how are we to understand detachment?
In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says that we need three things to advance in yoga: detachment, practice and a effective method. And in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says we need detachment and practice. So, there is no getting around the need for detachment. It’s crucial for your wellbeing, what to speak of your self-realization.
Here’s an excerpt from my soon to be published book, The 3T Path:
“As you advance spiritually, you’ll also develop detachment. You’ll be less bothered by adversity or thrilled by good outcomes. You’ll understand that you’re not your body and that all living beings are eternal souls, immune to any material situation and safely under the watch of our loving Father. You’ll understand that nothing belongs to you, that whatever you have is only on loan. Ultimately, you’ll understand that as a soul, you require nothing from this world, as you lack nothing. You are complete and whole as you are – an eternal and unchangeable fact of existence. You have zero to lose, zero to fear.”
Detachment, thus, is the ability to accept reality as it is and focus on your actions, not the reactions you experience. Detachment means you’re focused on the internal, not external. By internal I mean your own state of mind, your goals, your focus, your motivations and your deeds. The detachment arises from the realization that you can only control yourself, your thoughts and your actions. You cannot control the world. And we certainly cannot control how others act.
Detachment is so powerful, because it aligns you with the obvious reality of our field of control and action. The more you advance in the 3T Path, the more you understand you need not fear for tomorrow, and you need not expect life to happen one way or another. You can let life flow, confident that you are equiped to deal with it, whichever way it takes you.
Detachment doesn’t mean you do not care or, worse, that you cannot love. To the contrary, you cannot love if you not detached. Detachment gives you the freedom to love purely, solely interested in what’s best for the one you love. To the degree you’re not detached, to that degree you cannot claim to love purely. Your expectations of a return for your love and service, tarnish the relationship.
Check out my video on the topic of detachment here.