In psychology, emotional detachment is often refered too as the “inability to connect”. However, in the Buddhist tradition detachment is “the determination to be free”, and that usually refers to being free of suffering. To the extent that we cling very strongly to things we want and how we want situations to unfold a certain way, we can quickly be deceived:
“Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering” ~ The Dalai Lama
Detachment or rather non-attachment, is letting go of the need to control the outcome, instead placing all efforts on the task at hand. This means that if you have done all that you could do, if you did so with only the best intentions, then you must let the outcome Be. It simply is, as my dear friend Joanna would say.
To often do people do things only for the benefits it will bring them in return. There seem to be a rather scarce amount of good deeds being carried-out these days. I am not saying this pejoratively, I just don’t think that most people realise that this is how they behave. Our society is so focused on the gain, the outcome, the result, that we forget to enjoy the ride. It is simply a matter of perspective, an attitudinal shift that needs to happen.
I have been facing a difficult situation this week and I came to the realisation last night that the reasons why I was so overwhelmed and discouraged was because of my attachment to my work. I have put my best efforts into this piece of work. I did not take shortcuts, I took the time to do everything well and yet, it wasn’t enough. More than that, it was not acceptable!
And so, when I realised that the reason I was feeling so demolished was because I had been identifying emotionally with the outcome, that it was MY work that was being critiqued, I understood that I needed to detach. You’ve probably heard someone say that their work is their baby? Well that’s exactly where the problem lays.
“There is a need to dissidentify from the product of our efforts, focusing instead on rewarding the effort itself.” ~ Me!
Now that is the attitudinal shift I was talking about! Concentrate on genuine and truthful actions, always striving to put in your best effort both physically and mentally. Then, as you are satisfied with the effort, the result doesn’t seem to matter so much anymore.
“Since all things are impermanent, non-attachment is the only logical attitude one can have towards material things, our bodies, and even life itself. Clinging to the things of this world which are in constant transition is an impossible task. This is the importance of letting go.” ~ from the Art of dharma website
I invite you to read this short dissertation by Peter Morrell on the Path of non-attachment from a Buddhism perspective.
“If I am less desirous, more contented, less hateful, more loving, more peaceful, more contented, then I can die happy. That is the nature of non-attachment, a path worth cultivating.” ~ Peter Morrell