My tryst with Detachment

“So sorry to let you go” I looked at the watch one last time as I placed it in the shelf. My sister gifted it 6 years ago and now it looks old, beaten, scarred as it endured through the sun, wind, rain and snow along with me all these 6 years. That was a long time association for anyone to have an attachment with. I had been in many such relationships in the past that pinched the heart when I broke up with – the toys I played, the shirts that I wore, the car that I have driven, and even with the rented houses that we lived in. That dejected look at the vacated house regurgitating every possible memory is reminiscent of the feelings of parted lovers. But then we move on to another house, and the bondage goes on from one to the other.

It is in one of those thoughtful moments, I rake up the fundamental vice that we thrive upon called as attachment. Lord Krishna preached through Bhagavad Gita that we should be like a water drop on lotus leaf in the way that the drop stays on the leaf without getting attached to it. The simplicity in that juxtaposition made an immense sense that we can perform actions without being emotionally pulled into it. Later I chanced upon Buddha’s preaching in which he said “attachment is the root of suffering”. These were some profound statements that left individuals to their own imaginations and inferences. Wonderfully put, but it was unfair for them to just preach and not give away the necessary techniques to implement. It’s like luring by saying Biriyani tastes good, but not giving away the recipe to make it ourselves. Still I have taken inorganic approach to understand detachment as a concept through certain mundane aspects of life which took me nowhere. For example, you can’t be detached with your personal relationships, nor even with profession especially in this age of insecurities.

Through careful reflection, it dawned upon much later that to understand the true nature of detachment one should look beyond its definition. It shouldn’t be dissected as a concept, but should be seen as an intrinsic way of living just like life and death. What if the world is seen as an integral part of you? What if every person or every object is seen inclusive within you without separating from you? What if you see a pebble and a gold coin the same way? What if you are not just the body but more than that, as many scriptures prescribe? The question of detachment doesn’t arise. This experience requires a certain degree of intelligence and enlightenment, and I believe that there lived few enlightened souls that walked on this earth. Some people claimed to have spotted them. It’s like alien spotting – you want to be believe it but will always have a sceptic mind. I may have spotted one in my childhood.

Long ago, there used to be a naked man wandering around the streets of my home town chittoor. He randomly appears from nowhere twirling his arms as if doing some ‘yoga mudras’. Some called him mad man and some called him God man. Some pitied him and some detested him. Occasionally he walks into random shops raising his palm seeking alms without speaking a word. Some offered money, some offered food, and some scooted him away. On one such occasion, my father and I were in a shop and this naked man suddenly appeared raising his arms seeking (perhaps) money from my father. Instinctively my father shooed him away as this man’s appearance didn’t fit into our social profile. Few months later when we spotted him again in yet another street, my father voluntarily offered him money. But this man ignored and moved on, not to avenge the previous incident but because he didn’t need anything at that point of time. Perhaps he was that enlightened man that we talk about, probably the richest in the whole world, devoid of any attachments, devoid of mortal needs. He was most blissful in the way he is.

Until then, I can only take rudimentary steps towards detachment by not getting into another new relationship that could cause long term bondage. For example, don’t beget yet another child, don’t buy yet another watch.

Speaking of watches, I saw a beautiful watch during a casual web browsing a few days ago. It has the curves to crave for, and the dial to die for. It was sheer temptation as another bondage beckons. My hands wavered around “Buy Now” button from the moment I saw it. But in a sudden bout of enlightenment, I withdrew the temptation as if exhaling a whiff of air. It was that simple. I basked in this new found glory, so simple yet so profound. But this bout of wisdom lasted for few more seconds until I found a note underneath that I didn’t notice until then – “Half price. Offer ends today”

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