DETACHMENT: A ZEN PERSPECTIVE by Kris
Buddha soon after Enlightenment stated three noble truths. Among them are:
- Everything in this world is transient and changing;
- Attachment to worldly things brings only suffering.
Why the suffering? Because we all get attached to things we love and when we lose them, that causes suffering. Hence over 2000 years ago, it was stated, “be in this world but not of this world.”
Thus we need to develop detachment. But does detachment not mean we will be cold and heartless?
On the contrary, as inner peace develops, one develops more compassion, focus and awareness of what is important and shed what is not. This is the greatest difficulty we all have to discern what is really important in life.
So how do we develop this detachment?
We have all done it. When we were kids, we were all very attached to our favorite toys. But as we grew up, we dropped these toys. If these toys were offered today, as an adult we would have no interest.
Similarly, as we develop wisdom on the nature of this changing impermanent world, we slowly shed these worldly toys as we grow spiritually. However this needs regular practice.
Several paths are suggested by great spiritual Masters. To summarize their message it is:
- From practice comes detachment.
What is this practice? It is a combination of things.
First is the removal of Ignorance. Because we are all ignorant of our true nature, we all run after worldly things for our happiness. However, our true nature according these Masters, is that we are peaceful, balanced and the vicissitudes of life do not impact us.
So to remove the first stage of ignorance, we need to read and hear spiritual messages. However, you may hear this message many times but it may not stay or take root in you. This is because our mind is already filled with selfish worldly things. This is akin to filling a bottle with fine wine when it is already full of brine. So to “empty” our nature of this negative tendency/brine, volunteering and doing selfless work is suggested.
In parallel, we are to regularly practice meditation. Why? Because our mind is scattered with worldly things and meditation brings focus and balance to our emotions.
As we regularly practice our meditation and our spiritual knowledge, we evolve upwards and give up our worldly toys. This is akin to walking up the stairs where we give up the lower rungs.
Thus to summarize, it is regular practice of meditation, doing selfless actions and studying/hearing spiritual subjects that brings spiritual detachment and inner peace ensues.