Compassionate Detachment – a Buddhist Perspective

Prayer and meditation are the same in that they are both inducing altered states of consciousness but they are also fundamentally different. When you are in prayer, much of the time you are asking or hoping for fulfillment of your desires. You are asking for assistance to enable your cravings and, in doing so, you prolong your suffering. When you meditate you are stilling the mind and disengaging from craving and desire. You are peaceably tuning your senses down so that you can paradoxically heighten them. This is a great skill.

When you are able to settle the mind there is no need for prayer because there is nothing that you need, there is nothing that you desire and there is no outcome that you are unduly attached to.

When you accept the nature of things you are free to let go of your desire to control things. In doing so you allow yourself to enjoy life with a lightness of heart.

When you realize that it is the nature of things to change then you stop being surprised and dismayed by things that naturally fall away.

When you are detached you realize that this is not an excuse to avoid caring for yourself or others or your surroundings. It is important that you take care of your shelter and your body as these things allow you to continue living but do not be deluded into thinking that your actions will allow you to live forever or that taking good care of your home will allow it to remain untarnished and unworn.

At some point we will all leave this earth and all of the things around us will crumble and disappear. Through understanding this is it is possible to care ‘enough’ for our self and our belongings without getting too attached and it is possible to care enough about others without desiring to change or control them.

When you want to do something in your life that it purposeful this is good but, realize that those with a cause often do more harm than good. When you are passionate about something you often push others away and segregate yourself from others. When you have a cause you are putting it above others and in doing good you may also cause others to feel dis-empowered. Seek not to have a cause. Do things and take action wisely but do not feel that anything is more important than the present moment.

When you are attempting to move forward with some action or some idea and you become blocked, do not become stressed or angry just flow around the block. Become like water taking the path of least resistance. When water comes up against a block it flows through the cracks and around the object. If water just kept trying to get through that one spot then a dam would build up and the water would stagnate. This is not good for the nature of water. Water needs movement and change. This is the nature of water. If the water fought and fought and managed to break the dam then there would just be a great mess. There is no need for such mess or such suffering. When you are blocked, take the path of least resistance until more options open up to you. It is not a sign that you can or cannot achieve something it is simply a matter of karma or timing.

As soon as you can accept this then your flow returns to you. If you are meditating or concentrating on something and you get distracted do not be angry or disappointed. It is in the nature of people to be alert to other things going on in the environment. When you realize that there is no threat then you can settle back down again. No harm done.

Action first then wisdom. We learn from our actions and our practice. When you are reading about something it is easy to intellectualize it. It is easy to generate many questions and to talk about the ins and outs of something for many days and months without getting started. If you get started you see what the action involves. Then your questions are useful and you see that many of the questions that you were going to ask fall away and become irrelevant. When you practice, you understand. When you understand you know and when you practice, understand and know then, you have wisdom. From wisdom comes enlightenment which is a setting down of all of those things that cause suffering and transcending the self into a peaceful nothingness.

Did you enjoy your lunch today? Yes. Could you have enjoyed more? Probably, could you have enjoyed less? Maybe, could you have enjoyed something different? Could you have enjoyed nothing?

An enlightened one would answer yes to all of these questions because they are not attached to their external circumstances and they have trained themselves to accept each and every moment for what it is. If there is food they can eat and if there is no food it is not a problem because at some other point there is bound to be. They endure each moment willingly without stress and because they detach from the desire to eat or be full or enjoy a specific meal, and because they detach from the desire to control their circumstances they are free to not worry about what will happen next. If you can endure hardship in this moment with a smile on your face then you are learning.

If you can endure pleasure in this moment with a smile on your face then you are learning also.

Compassionate detachment allows for contentment in all circumstances. Compassionate detachment allows us to learn from all that is around us, those things that we consider to be good and those things that we consider to be bad. Remove the judgment and you remove the suffering. See hardships as something that will pass and joys and triumphs as something that will also pass and you will not try so hard to move on or hold on. You begin to enjoy the flow of life and enjoy the rich experiences which come your way. You get to experience illness and irritability and these are a blessing and a gift if you look at them the right way.

When you see things the right way the suffering disappears.

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