Non – attachment

Scriptures are vast ocean of knowledge and wisdom. One can get immersed in them to the point they become  academic documents for mere intellectual exercise.  To prevent such pitfall we have codes of conduct such as Athichudi. They are brief statements  for direct and immediate use. Another example is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

One could summarize the lessons from Bhagawath Geetha as “May all manner of living be dedicated to Total Self Control and non-attached active engagement”.

Many questions that follow are: What is life? Manner of living? Control? Self? Self-control? Total Self-control? Vs. partial self-control? Dedication? Non-attachment? Engagement with non- attachment? Once? as much as possible? Life long quest?, etc.

Exploration of these and many such questions and their understanding is the essence of Bhagawath Geetha. Exploring such questions may indeed be the essence of all scriptures in any religion.

Recently a friend asked me “What is non-attachment”?

Daslakshan Parva is the festival of ten virtues celebrated every year over ten days by the Jains. This year (2015) it was celebrated from September 18 to 27th. Each day is devoted to reflection and observance of one virtue. Non-attachment (Akinchanyam) is prescribed as the virtue to be observed on the 9th day.

At first sight  “non-attachment” seems weird, unreal or imaginary. Instead non-attachment is the true nature of our existence!

There are hundreds if not thousands of activities we engage in every day. Yet we don’t remember all of them or dwell on each. Consider the following few examples:

You have driven your cars for 1000s of miles in your life time. If you don’t drive, you have certainly bicycled many miles. For certain you have walked 100s of steps each day and 1000s over the years. Each moment is an event, an activity. You had to be fully engaged in the event at that moment. Your life in the next moment depended on being active and properly engaged in the moment before! Yet how many of these moments occupy our thought or memory? Hardly a tiny fraction. The rest of the time we are in a true or natural state of non-attached active engagement.

Our heart beats every moment from birth to death. Yet we may recall only the few moments when it was pulsing abnormally due to joy, sadness or malfunction! The rest of the time our heart is functioning in a state of non-attachment with respect to the person – Purusha – the “I” in me!

These are few of countless examples, where the moments we consider as something relevant – (Kimchith) – are far fewer than the moments that merely happen and exist (Akimchith).

It is said that, Brahman is that which enables the fire to burn, the wind to move, etc. The fire burns anything in its path and it has no attachment to the object. They represent the laws of nature. These laws merely exist. They have no preferences or choices of objects, people or duality (likes/dislike), etc. We exist merely as the representation of the laws of nature at play. True comprehension of this basic reality is non-attachment.

The principle of non-attachment is capsulized in the axiom: You exist as  an integral part of the universe (Thath Thwam Asi); One who understands the Brahman (non-attachment), becomes one with Brahman (Brahma Vith Brahma Eva Bhavathi).

Non-attachment does not mean renunciation and pursuit of the life of a monastic. It is a state of mind, the knowledge and understanding rather than mere way of life.

Non-attachment is not a choice. It is the recognition of the reality as it exists. The world is a sphere (and not flat) is not a choice. It is mere acceptance of the reality as it exists. Everything else (attachment) is the choice which leads to the duality (I/you, mine/yours, love/hate, like/dislike, friend/foe, etc.)

Reflection of the moon and its wavy appearance in the surface of the water is a reality for one who sees the reflection alone. This is how we engage and amuse a child. But as one grows up the knowledge of the moon, the waves on the surface of the water, the reflection, leads one to see the reality as it is (non-attachment) and not the wavy moon as it is perceived (through attachment to limited knowledge).

As long as we are in a car, on a bicycle or in our shoes we move with these objects as if we are one and the same. Every one of us know that we are distinct from our car, bi-cycle or shoe. Can you observe such distinction between the “I” in you from everything else other than that? That understanding is non-attachment.

Every event in life (and in every moment) is response to the laws of nature.

An angry person disappears in our mind when we understand the sources of his/her anger. Then we have a person with issues that need to be resolved. Non-attachment leads to the constant pursuit of the laws of nature at play.

A dispute becomes a discussion and eventually an argument. Enlightened conversation begins when the participants become “non-attached”. The subject and enunciation of different points of view come into focus. The duality of “I said this, he said this”; “I agree – you disagree”, etc. that occupy our mind disappears. Such return to Non-attachment may be pursued by one, many or all the participants. The opportunity to remain “non-attached” to gain the most value out of the discussion is equal and open to all, any time and all the time!

Practice of non-attachment – conscious awareness of the association of the self with anything specific other than the self (or consciousness) – is also called as Yoga.

A musician performs at the best when he/she is in total unison with the music. He/she exists non-attached to everything else for those moments (Gana Yoga). The best performance in the concert is recognized in those moments when the musicians and everyone in the audience exist in union with the music (in a state of non-attachment from everything else).

May be we can conclude that practice of non-attachment (Akimchana Dharma) is the essence of an enlightened way of living?

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3 Responses to Non – attachment

  1. Sundararajan says:

    Kudos to the author to have brought out the essence of “Brahman, Daslakshan Parva, The essence of Gita”. The complex issue is made simple to understand.

    However, the caption “In the words of Pope Francis” is misleading. I am unable to connect the Pope with any of the contents which are millennia old in India.


    • sipractce says:

      The caption “In the words of the Pope Francis” belongs to an earlier essay.
      This essay is merely linked for reference to the Golden Rule, mentioned in the current essay captioned “Non-attachment”.


  2. sipractce says:

    Akimchana is “I am nobody”; Akimchanya is the faith or belief (bhava) of “I am nobody”, which implies utter humility. It’s a way of saying “I do not exist”
    For “non-attachment”, the personality exists but tries to stay aloof, no “imposition” of “I” on others or other matters.
    Akimchana is “non-existence”, possibly pure “samadhi” in wakeful state. May not have senses, may not breathe, does not need anything!

    Your essay is on “non-attachment” which is a Gita concept.

    In Hindu theory, we are “siva” in our ground state.
    In Jainism and partly Buddhism, we reach “no state”, a state of negation (even by losing life etc).



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