Can he detach himself from the personal aspects of the situation? Can he refuse to be guided by them or influenced by the feelings of the moment? This is his test.
He becomes detached when he frees himself from the universally prevalent tendency to connect every experience with the personal ego. Detachment takes him out of himself and saves him from getting emotionally involved in his environment.
He who attains this beautiful serenity is absolved from the misery of frustrated desires, is healed of the wounds of bitter memories, is liberated from the burden of earthly struggles. He has created a secret, invulnerable centre within himself, a garden of the spirit which neither the world’s hurts nor the world’s joys can touch…
He must find and keep a centre within himself which he is determined to keep inviolate against the changes, alarms, and disturbances of the outside world. Human life being what it is, he knows that troubles may come but he is resolved that they shall not invade this inner sanctuary and shall be kept at a mental distance.
… The short path means that you begin to try to remember to live in the rarefied atmosphere of the Overself instead of worrying about the ego and measuring its spiritual development…
There are two different ways of being detached: the ascetic’s, which dissociates itself from the world and tries to live outside the world’s activities; and the philosopher’s, which accepts those activities but not the dependence which usually comes with them.
That which compels us to act in a certain way is in part the pressure of environment and in part the suggestion of our own past. Sometimes one is stronger, sometimes the other is stronger. But the root of the whole problem lies in our mind. Its proper cultivation frees us largely from both compulsions.
As he goes deeper and deeper into himself, his private acts become more and more independent of other people’s suggestions and resistant to their influence.
One form of self-training to help acquire this inner detachment is to practise seeing and hearing no more of what is happening around one than is absolutely necessary for one’s immediate purpose, duty, or activity.
If you will take care not to become too depressed when things go wrong, nor too elated when they go right, you will gradually achieve an equilibrium which later will assist you to remain always in touch with Reality.
Rare is the person who can witness his ego crushed to the ground and yet never forget his divine parentage, so that his mental equilibrium is not broken–who can be lifted up to the glorious heights of the Overself and yet remain humbly human.
As his interest in the Overself increases in depth, so his attachment to the things of this world decreases in passion and his interest in them becomes more serene.
The notion that the fortunes and misfortunes of life should be of little importance to a philosopher is not a correct one. To practise a calm detachment is not to ignore worldly values.
We must use the material things, yes, and not abandon them; but we must do so without attachment. We may love the good things of life like other men, but we ought not to be in bondage to this love. We should be ready to abandon them at a moment’s notice, if need be. It is not things that bind us, not marriage, wealth, or home, but our craving for marriage, wealth, or home. And what is such craving in the end but a line of thinking, a series of mental images?
To use possessions while being inwardly detached from them, to work as actively as if one had the ambition to succeed while all the time as indifferent toward success as toward failure–this is part of the freedom he seeks and gains.
Both anxiety about the future and regret about the past are inconsistent with the state of serene detachment. It is uplifted beyond them, and free even from being affected by the day’s changes and pressures.
Human frailty being what it is, human conduct should never surprise us and never amaze us. By not expecting too much from it, we save ourselves unnecessary bitterness or disappointment.
As his centre moves to a profounder depth of being, peace of mind becomes increasingly a constant companion. This in turn influences the way in which he handles his share of the world’s activities. Impatience and stupidity recede, wrath at malignity is disciplined; discouragement under adversity is controlled and stress under pressures relaxed.
Dissociate yourself from the person who has to go through with the dream-drama of life. He is forced to act, but you can inwardly practise this dissociation.
If he can transcend himself, can rise to independence from the ego’s attachments and desires and emotions, utter peace awaits him.
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