From the time humans are born, we are quick learners. Babies learn to cry, eat, smile, crawl, etc at an incredible speed. We continue this learning throughout life. The one thing though that is hardest to learn is how to detach. No matter how many times our heart is broken, our words are talked over, our point of view is not understood, we are taken advantage of – we still trust again, we still believe again, we still try again. Why don’t we give up? Detach? Let it go? Makes me think that detachment is not a natural human skill at all. One can read many books on Buddhism or by Rumi, but the practice of detachment remains elusive.
At an early stage in life, attachment is necessary. If a baby detaches from mom at or after birth, he/she will have a poor chance of survival. As baby grows, humans around (generally and hopefully) treat him/her nicely and lure in to attach. Some with noble intentions, some merely to make the toddler into their own extension. Most of the problem starts when baby starts talking. Words, opinions, feelings, argh! Now when the little human starts expressing things from his point of view – opinions clash; adults try to mold the toddler to follow their thinking saying that they know from experience what is best for the toddler. Again, some do this genuinely out of concern, while others do it as a mechanism of control. Being physically weaker than adults, the toddler gives in – again, mostly to survive.
We continue this pattern well into adulthood. We are hopefully physically and financially secure at this point, so the survival aspect of attaching vanishes. Why then do we attach to other people? A life partner, a friend? Mostly for our emotional needs. To find a ying to our yang. To get grounded, to find in someone else what we find missing in ourself. Hoping that together we can be a great team. There are some assumptions here of course – that both the partners feel the same way, they are headed in the same direction. When that is not the case, the two-seater bicycle goes off balance and both take a tumble. Now imagine, an off balance two-seater bicycle that hits a big rock. Both fall, get scratched, get wounded but still decide to carry on cycling. They pick up the cycle and move ahead of the rock, very well knowing that many such rocks are on the way. Both are tired and hurting, they both carry a lot of negative energy which keeps affecting the other partner. Its going to be a bumpy ride indeed.
How then do we detach? How do we keep the negative energy that others throw at us away and remain positive? In a way, by ignoring partner A’s point of view or by hurting him/her, the partner B has already started the process of detachment. It simply shows that the partner is so happy clinging to their own emotions that there is no room to adjust someone else’s perspective. To an acute mind, this indicates a sign. A sign of no vacancy, a sign of upcoming hurt and neglect. A person who says things to hurt you once, can do so again and again. Now it is up to you how much trust or belief you put in this person. How much importance you give his/her words. How big a part of your inner-life you make this person.
An intelligent person at this point, will sit back, analyze and downgrade their expectations from their partner. This is much easier said than done – because the heart hopes, desires and longs for the good times that were. But yes, the right thing to do at this point is to detach, downgrade expectations and try to heal the inner wounds caused by people who should not have been allowed in the inner space at all. If someone is in your inner space, it is only because you have allowed them to be in there. If someone comes to your house and trashes it, does not respect it – what do you do? You ask the person to leave and bolt the door. Not forever, but till the time that they don’t realize that they need to treat your inner space with the respect that it deserves.
So yes, detachment is extremely difficult. The very people who hurt us and break us down, teach us how to detach. And most of the time, these are people we loved with all our heart. I guess for that we must be thankful to them. The universe connected us to them so that we can love them and so that they can lead us on a journey of self discovery. Detachment is quite an un-human value to have. Maybe that’s what makes it divine.