Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Grief and Detachment
As mentioned in earlier posts becoming detached enhances the pleasure we receive from life, not the other way round. Attachments put our focus, attention and energy on future acquisition and past regrets. Detachment enables us to live in the present.
There are of course periods, events or situations in life which are causes for genuine grief. To become free of attachments does not mean that we feel no sense of loss. The fact that happiness resides within does not mean that situations outside our control cannot cause us genuine pain.
To be detached means that because we have realized that our happiness is an internal reality we experience a grief that is full, healthy and complete and leads to healing. Because the loss is not tied to our ultimate happiness we are able to grieve fully and completely without any preoccupation as to our future happiness. Rather than a grief that is liberating, healthy and deep the person that is not detached, internally secure and have a strong sense of self tends to have dysfunctional grieving patterns and habits. Such persons either grieve too much to the point of hysteria, despondency or depression or they repress their feelings, not grieve in full and cause real long term harm to themselves and their relationships.
Do not repress or suppress feelings of genuine loss. Instead recognize that our happiness is separate from and independent of our grief and we can therefore experience the loss with our entire being and then move on and ultimately pass through the sense of loss.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Spiritual but not Religious.
The library is quite a peaceful place and the mid-afternoon daylight pours through the floor to ceiling windows. I have always enjoyed writing in the quiet of a library or bookstore, though the relative ruckus of High School adolescents reminds me to schedule my library sojourn for an earlier hour of the day.
This morning, during my mantra-meditation practices, my mind kept toying with this concept of spirituality vs. religion. I encounter many in my coaching and speaking programs who vehemently abhor organized religion. I can understand that sentiment as I was raised in a religious institution myself. Practitioner’s disdain for ritualistic and institutionalozed practices, rules and regulations, devoid of mature spiritual development and understanding, is in most cases well-founded.
Let’s set religiosity aside for the time being; at least religiosity as defined as an institution. What is spirituality? It is easy to define religion and religiosity. However, people’s definition of spirituality varies from person to person. I will say that in my experience, more often than not, spirituality is basically religion without the “God” element. Religion without “all the worship and service to God” generally describes most people’s idea of spirituality.
Religiosity, devoid of “worship and service to a particular God”, still does not clearly explain or define spirituality. The definition of spirituality, with or without acknowledging God, is a significant issue considering the saying by the philosopher Chardin. “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
As spirit beings inhabiting a matter-based reality we will naturally encounter some incongruities. The question is simple; how do spirit-made beings function in a matter-based world?
The process of negation is one way to identify and nourish our spirituality. Let’s eliminate gratification. The senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and sound provide us with sensual pleasure and gratification. However, activities that are not primarily intended to gratify these senses, yet still give us a sense of happiness, is an activity that stimulates the soul, hence spiritual.
If we invite a friend to accompany us to the movies with the primary intention of sharing the experience and getting to know the other person then the evening can be spiritually uplifting. If our primary concern was the stimulation of our senses, during the movie and thereafter, then we are susceptible to frustration if the movie turns out to be drivel and the evening does not turn out to be sensually gratifying.
Our spirituality is identified, nourished and strengthened when we choose activities and engagements that are only secondarily or incidentally stimulating to our material senses.
Problem solving must be done in a similar fashion. When we encounter problems and find solutions to those problems that are not primarily tied to our personal, sensual gratification the resultant spiritual solutions will be far more universally applicable, acceptable and beneficial.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Detachment and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Those who have read my articles and blog, (www.GitaYoga.net), know that I am constantly advising that we give up our attachments. The opposite of attachment is erroneously believed to be detachment, this is not the case. The opposite of attachment is aversion. Let’s briefly define these three; attachment, detachment and aversion.
An attachment is the belief that the source of my happiness resides in my external, material reality, i.e. personal, sensory gratification. An aversion is the belief that the source of my misery depends on my external, material reality, i.e. the lack of my personal, sensory gratification. Detachment is the understanding that while my external material reality is indeed a reality, and affects me on an external, material level, I also exist in a spiritual reality which is untouched by my external circumstances.
An attachment dictates that when dining out if I order and receive olives on my pizza the evening will be perfect and I will be happy. Aversion is when the chef mistakenly puts pineapple and ham on my pizza; I become frustrated and unhappy and the evening is ruined. Detachment is even if they put pineapple on my pizza and turn it into a fruit salad I retain my ability to experience happiness, (even as I hurl pineapple at the hastily retreating waiter), because I recognize that my happiness is not at all a function of someone else’s culinary dysfunction.
Detachment is the ability to remove focus from our personal, sensory gratification and to remain situated in happiness even in adverse, external circumstances. Detachment means our personal, sensory gratification is secondary to existing with spiritual maturity. Detachment, for theists, means our personal, sensory gratification comes second in our relationship with God. Detachment, for atheists, means our personal, sensory gratification comes second in our relationship with the world.
Detachment is the key to happiness; not attachment and aversion.
By the way, being detached did not dampen the gusto with which I devoured that pizza one whit!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Attachments and the Pursuit of Happiness
The first order of business is to differentiate between happiness and gratification. Gratification requires sensory input or stimulation, happiness does not. Gratification is affected by external environments, happiness is not. Gratification is dependent upon our external reality, happiness is not. Gratification is always in a state of flux; happiness is a state of being. Objects and activities that provide gratification can be denied us, our reservoir of happiness lies within and follows us wherever we go. Gratification is based on our material reality; happiness is based on our spiritual maturity.
We, as living beings, exist in two realities, our material reality and our spiritual reality. Sensual gratification resides in the realm of matter. Though we are, by natural, pleasure seeking, we mistake sensory gratification in our material reality for the true happiness to be experienced in our spiritual reality. We then develop attachments based on these matter based objects of gratification and therefore stay trapped in the realm of matter.
It is our attachment to sensual gratification that keeps us bound to our material reality and blinds us to true happiness in our spiritual reality. Happiness, on the spiritual level, requires no sensory input. In yoga practice this is called Samadhi. Try it. Sit in a chair, close your eyes and choose to be happy, literally choose it. This is the beginning of experiencing true happiness devoid of attachments to matter-based objects of sensory gratification. We carry our source of happiness around with us 24/7. The problem is that our attachments to sensory gratification get in the way and we spend our time chasing temporal objects and circumstances that provide only fleeting and impermanent gratification.
By eliminating our attachment to sensory gratification we can experience true, deep and lasting happiness.