Friday, January 9, 2009
Detachment and the Pursuit of Happiness
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!