Friday, October 3, 2008

How Detached Should We Be?

- by Ayesha Parveen 01 Oct 2008
Category: Lifestyle.
This story has been read 219 times.
A friend has recently told me to learn to be detached, adding that it is essential to be so when we interact with people. This has set me wondering how important it is to be detached and if it is either desirable or possible to be totally so.

If being detached is necessary, would it not mean neither getting involved with people emotionally nor letting situations affect us psychologically? It seems that this would include not loving people as well as being non-judgmental about what is right and what is wrong. It is practically impossible to be such and would do us no good. People need to reach out to one another in joy and sorrow and each person definitely needs to have a set of values of what is acceptable by his conscience and what is not. Total detachment from others would cut a person off from the mainstream of life and is thus not desirable, unless the person concerned has chosen to be a hermit.

On the other hand, too much of attachment has its own disadvantages. Often we see people becoming emotionally-dependent on those they are attached to. This leads to pain on separation or the loss of the loved person. Moreover, some people exploit those who are dependent on them, even if only emotionally. Had attachment not been there between people, none would suffer from heart-ache. If we get emotionally attached to negative situations we cannot change, we feel helpless, often falling into despair.

So, what is humankind to do? Do we negate all the finer feelings, of love and trust, which make us different from other animals? Should we stay detached when we see a grievous wrong being done or a person in excruciating pain?

Perhaps the best approach is to maintain a balance between being detached and getting involved. If we can help a person, by all means we ought to do so. That much involvement is desirable. Beyond that, it becomes risky; if we start expecting a return, we are often hurt. In cases where we cannot bring about changes, we should accept the fact that certain things in life are not within our control.

To love our near and dear ones is positive emotional-attachment and is encouraged for happy, healthy relationships. However, detachment should come if and when such relationships change into something either unhealthy or unloving. Good friends and loyal family are reality, but perhaps rare. When genuinely needed, we should stay detached, for, as Shakespeare has said in “As You Like It”, (Act 2; scene 7):

“Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.”


Ayesha Parveen said...

MSN Readers' comments:

Ramesh Padmanabhan - Chennai on 10/1/2008 5:13:01 PM
Good topic and writing. The right balance normally recommended is like water on a lotus leaf.There is attachmnet as well as detachment. When the love is unconditinonal and expectation is less , it is wonderful. Easy to say but difficult to follow. Regards. RP

Ajay Rao - bangalore on 10/1/2008 5:17:32 PM
Bingo For once I agree with you from the word 'A'.

Ayesha Parveen said...

MSN Readers' comments:

P.V.Vaidyanathan - Mumbai on 10/1/2008 6:50:51 PM
Nice article Ayesha. Attachment, I feel, happens at various levels--physical, where we need the physical presence of someone to talk to, to do us favors, to run errands for us etc, intellectual, where we need someone who can understand us, someone whom we can relate to, and emotional, where we need someone to share our happiness and our sorrow. Maintaining a balance is difficult, for once you get attached to someone, you are automatically sucked in, and have to face all the problems of the attachment. As Mr. Ramesh Padmanabhan says, one should be like the lotus leaf--holding the dewdrop, but not being affected by it or getting wet.

ayesha parveen - kolkata on 10/1/2008 8:38:23 PM
Dr. Vaidyanathan, I agree with most of what you have said in your comment. However, I feel some attachment does happen at the level of the soul; otherwise, how can we explain attachment to Vaasudev Krishna?

Ayesha Parveen said...

MSN Reader's comment:

Rajesh - Hyderabad on 10/3/2008 11:12:33 PM
Food for thought really Ayesha, but then one must consider that we have laws that advocate detachment of the severest form atleast from people for all humanitarian causes, just try taking an accident victim to hospital, not only will the cops ensure that s/he dies in front of your eyes from sheer indifference, but later train their guns on you for having tried to do this and shake them out of their complacence.