The Embrace of “Detachment”

I’ve been ruminating lately on the concept of ‘detachment.’

In the past, I’ve taken issue with this esoteric mandate that one needs to detach oneself from oneself and all worldly things and loved ones, as this is the only way to be enlightened. Or to see God. Or to ‘ascend’ or ‘transcend’ reality. Or the myriad of other metaphysical endgames out there.

I have always had a recurring feeling that this definition is not wholly correct. I felt that it was erroneous to think that ‘detaching’ yourself from others and the world was the way to wholeness.

God, by nature, cannot be detached – far from it! He/She/It is within everything, everyone – no exceptions. So isn’t this idea of detachment pushing a ‘separation’ agenda? This didn’t sit well with me, as I’ve always felt all separation is an illusion.

But looking back, I see that I was focusing more on the meaning of ‘detachment’ in the literal sense – emotionally and spatially – than in a figurative sense. Held back by the confines of language once again.

Now I have come to see that achieving the end goal of ‘detachment’ has nothing to do with literal separations. Instead, it has to do with shedding our conscious ego; giving up expectations, attachments and aversions. That part of ourselves that likes to put things in boxes.

Detaching from the ‘Self’ of the conscious brain so we may integrate ourselves more fully in our vast, all-encompassing true nature. The higher, universal ‘Self.’

You can still feel emotions and love – indeed, strongly! – while also recognizing and not taking personally these ephemeral situations, thoughts, feelings and people that pass us by on a daily basis. Difficult to accomplish, yes, but not impossible. Just being in the flow of the moment.

In essence, I feel that ‘detaching’ is not some kind of separation – it is a recognition. An embrace.

A deep, wide understanding that we exist beyond ourselves – in as such, our conscious ‘Self’ can become quite meddlesome. Which is why we are advised to think beyond just our own little paradigm of life. To ‘detach’ from the brainy prison of our own vantage point and look further.

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My honorary grandfather Mel wrote this lovely post which discusses the terms ‘attachment’ and ‘aversion.’ Letting go of your attachments of expectations or situations, but also letting go of your aversions to certain situations and feelings.

Seeing these terms spelled out was an eye-opener for me. When thought of this way, giving up ‘attachment’ is in no way suggesting that you should not care for others or feel compassion. Quite the opposite, really. It is actually encouraging compassion by putting aside your own biases on outcome and expression.

You cannot see the world or others clearly until you have worked to put aside and recognize your own cultural, personal, and spiritual agendas. Once you can do that – then you are wide open to receive things as they are, without judgment and total love.

Unconditional love.

Before reading that post, I had never thought about the equal importance of giving up aversions. They are the same thing as attachments, just in the opposite swing. By giving up expectations that revolve around the aversion of certain outcomes, expectations, and feelings, you remove roadblocks of guilt and personal preference. You pave the way for a clearer vision of the world and open the door for love in places that you may not have loved before.

By no means have I mastered any bit of this, but in my past posts where I expound on boxes of cultural constructs, pre-determined values and the illusion of separation, it is plainer to me than ever that this is what I am trying to do.

To see beyond the attachments and aversions of the personal ‘Self.’

To remove the locks and curtains of cultural expectation and personal preference, so that I may open the window wide to the non-judgmental and unclouded observation of the universal ‘Self.’

The embrace of unconditional love to see things as they really are.

And in doing so, I think we will feel far from “detached” – we will feel as one.

On Duality

As above, so below.

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The other night, I thought of this phrase and imagined a giant inverse pyramid on top of the great pyramid at Giza. Like that of a mirror. An invisible inverse that only the soul may see, as the soul is the same aspect of the physical body, but inverse. The inverse of our Self?

The intangible to the tangible. The sweet to the sour. The light to the dark. Both reflecting reality at the same time in different frequency, only in dual tracks.

But maybe the use of the word ‘dual’ is not appropriate here. It implies separate and opposite entities, separate tracks. I think that is far from it.

The soul and body, the light and dark, are both kinetic potentialities of the same element. They exist out of the same space.

Tracks on top of and encompassing one another.

They both manifest together, simultaneously and integrally. You can’t have one without the other. They are wholly one thing.

Duality as the whole? A fingerprint of the divine, a clue to the manifold potentialities of matter, mind and ultimately… humanity?

Human Context

I feel as if the internet is the wild, wild west of the modern era. Anything goes! Speak your mind! Offend people! Let off steam! Stake your claim! Get into duels! Express yourself! Dig for gold! Free-range thoughts!

I can’t be the only one who is getting a little weary of this attitude? Don’t get me wrong, the internet and the ‘free-range’ thoughts that are expressed and consumed by it seem great –  the immense commerce of ideas and information, how is that not exciting?! The information junkie inside me is revelatory in the amount of data that is available to consume. So-called free-thought. Or is it?

Recently I have been thinking about the online trend to increasingly ‘curate’ or personalize our internet experience. Don’t like that ad? Get one that is more to your liking! Offended by your crazy aunt bitch about Obama on Facebook? You can block her posts! Everything is moving towards cushioning us into our own comfortable bubbles of dogma. So much so that we are forgetting what it is like to have frank, honest and civil disagreements with other people who hold differing beliefs. I’m not sure if the online population has caught on to this yet, but I’m pretty sure it is statistically impossible to convert 100% of all people to one way of looking at the world.

We will always meet with a differing viewpoint. Always. I feel like sometimes there are people online who are actually offended when other people do not view things the way they do. Is this for real?

So how does someone get to the point where they believe their way is the only way? That a civil discourse on a topic that may be contentious turns into vehement hate-spew in the comments of an article? I think the internet is increasingly de-humanizing the exchange of ideas, so when you interact with others online you are missing a crucial piece of the context: the actual human presence. Sure, you see their name and photo maybe, and perhaps where they live, but does your brain actually humanize the avatar of this so-called real person?

In his book Mindwise, Nicholas Epley notes a study which highlights a huge disconnect in the way people think they will act in a certain situation, and what they actually do when faced with the real face-to-face interaction. There is a certifiable contextual element when you have real people in front of you, and your subconscious has spent millennia learning how to interpret body language, facial expressions and mood into a very human interaction. And now we are having to re-train our subconscious in translating the subtext of internet slang and emojis in order to complete our social transaction. I’m pretty sure that without the real person in front of us, our consciousness is not able to properly interpret and react the way it needs to, leaving us with a more or less empty encounter, devoid of real energy and exchange. An interaction that is mostly about ourselves and our personal agenda. Humanity removed.

I believe firmly that we have a social consciousness that is crucial to our ideological mindset and evolution, and without actual interpersonal interaction it is rendered useless. Unless we are somehow able to humanize these interactions? Is the internet stunting us in this regard? I certainly hope not, but this thought has moved me to build more in-person social activities in my life. The virtual version of such is of no comparison, and is indeed missing so much context.

Freedom of Thought

I have been contemplating lately the concept of free thought. Can this exist?

Was this the aim of Adam & Eve when they bit the apple? Did their curiosity lead them to want freedom from the tyranny of influence from something else? An influence on their minds?

I wonder even now if I am a free thinker; what percentage of my thoughts, desires, dreams, feelings & ambitions – and even my self-concept! – are products of the influence of other people and the expectations of society. In this context, I worry that I have no real say. No authority. No real free-will: the supposed divine gift of humanity.

I often feel as if my thoughts are not of my own, and that I am but a wire tapped into everything that has already been and will be, and I’m just transferring pieces of this information… receiving them… and putting them into play. In this respect, if I am but a conduit, if I believe myself to be an authority, then will I be one?  Assume the role as I clothe myself in any belief, and influencing everyone around me into joining and playing the game?

It seems to me that we don’t really exist in autonomy. We are a net, symbiotic, living under the guise of individuality. Constantly influencing everything all of the time, rising and falling, living and breathing, yet not even aware of it. We think we are alone and act out of our own accord; does that even exist?

Is this what rips us apart? The malice, the backstabbing, the shade throwing – for what purpose? To insult and betray…ourselves?

Choice of Thought

I was just reading David Foster Wallace’s key note speech for Kenyon College, ‘This is Water.’ Brilliant piece, and boils down a lot of metaphysical teachings into a very concrete principle, that erases much of the wavy, other-worldliness that the other esoteric pieces imbue: that what you think matters, and taking yourself out of your self-centeredness is very hard to do as it is hard-wired into us, and nurtured by our social society. And not only that, but we have a choice of what to think – it is not up to society, to Facebook, to memes, to traffic, to networking chitter-chatter to dictate what we think. He cautions against getting lost in the inner monologues, the universe of me, me, ME – because there, there is no choice of thought, it is only of the self, and there is no other self or concept more important.

It is imperative that we excuse ourselves out of the dreary transcript that this self causes, we need to push past and open up. When we rule over our tiny human skull kingdom, we rule supreme and righteous, but to whose benefit? Only our own, and it eats us alive. We cannot serve these other interests – material wealth, personal power, possession, our own fame and importance. We have to see beyond the veil of self and into the wilderness. See into the black, bow down and know nothing, because there is where the adventure and true heart of the story lies.

I really think I should read Infinite Jest; a large book has never deterred me in the past. However, it is DFW’s persnickety and over-conscious wit that turns me off from his writing. (Ironically, my husband accuses me of being a hypocrite here!)  The over-analyzing fatigue. It is brilliant, yes I agree, but writing like this often tears me down and makes me weary of thinking in the first place. The same way I was turned away from reading works by Ken Wilbur. Their reasoning and logic seem tied to them in integral ways, and they come off as touchy, self-involved intellectuals – the like of which I have met many times (and count some of them as dear friends). Sometimes I can push past the over-conscious wit, but with great conscious effort. I often un-insert myself from these conversations or discussions, as it feels to me that most of the time the people talking are more interested in the winding process of reason and logic and intellect than they are of the real conclusion or heart of any query.

I often view the active discussers engaging in these conversations to believe that the sake of argument is what really matters. That the questions themselves have more power, and the more subtle and subversive the question the higher the intellect. And on and on. I usually duck out if I find my way into one of these. Perhaps I join in the fun and add some witty comments of my own if I’m feeling energized, but I rarely take them seriously.  They might get to where I want to go and I might see and hear a lot of sights along the way, yet the feeling of the conversation is adversarial – and to me, there is no “victor” as they surmise: only the thought reigns supreme. If I can discuss these weighty issues with others who do not delight in hearing their own self-talk, then I revel in it!