Detachment in Yoga and Advaita: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

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D.: How to get over the cycle of births and deaths?
M.: Learn what it means.
D.: Should I not leave my wife and family?
M.: How do they harm you? First find out who you are.
D.: Should not one give up wife, wealth, home?
M.: Learn first what samsara is. Is all that samsara? Have there not been men living among them and getting realisation?

(From ‘Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi’ 31)

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In Yoga, the idea of detaching oneself from the world of senses and sense impressions is deeply embedded. Patanjali’s yoga Sutras specifically mention the various steps in reaching Enlightenment including Pratyahara. Pratyahara means to withdraw the senses from the outer world.

The great yogis say that without detachment, one cannot make clear progress towards the goal of Self-Realization. This notion has wide support in the ancient Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist scriptures. Practice of yoga, meditation, and detachment from the world is central to many traditional teachings on Moksha, NIrvana, and Liberation.

Radical nondual texts like Ashtavakra Gita also speak about dispassion. For example, after King Janaka asks the Sage Ashthavakra how to attain liberation (Chapter 1, verse 1), Ashthavakra immediately says, “If you are seeking liberation, my son, avoid the objects of the senses like poison and cultivate tolerance, sincerity, compassion, contentment, and truthfulness as the antidote.” (Chapter 1, verse 2).

However, later in Chapter 15 (verse 12), Asthavakra says, “My son, you consist of pure consciousness, and the world is not separate from you. So who is to accept or reject it, and how, and why?”

When we review the Advaitic texts, they seem to alternate between traditional teachings and radical teachings. It appears that different verses are meant to appeal to aspirants at different levels of understanding. The highest and the most subtle teaching of the Self typically comes after the foundation of traditional teaching is created.

Indeed, if we inquire deeply into the nature of the Self, it becomes clear that in order to practice detachment, we have to assume that we are separate from our reality in this moment. The extent of our discomfort with this will determine our direction and movement and interest in various schools of philosophy.

The truth is that the whole notion of detachment is predicated on the assumption that there is something to be detached from.  This has to be understood very clearly.

If dualism is sought to be rejected as a philosophy or a world view, it only ends up reinforcing dualism. The very attempt to reject implies a holding on, an attachment to something perceived as real and important.

This is not the way of Oneness.

If one can remain silent and still, all concepts vanish and reality is experienced as it is. It is only the inner core of our being. What is required is simple self-awareness.

3 thoughts on “Detachment in Yoga and Advaita: By Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

  1. A right article for me at right minute. I am actually in a state where I thought that there is something I should get detached from. But no progress thereafter. Becoz it is not possible. All I have to be is to be… Mind interferes in everything. I guess Mind must get bored of everything to make it calm.

    Like

  2. 1. When we review the Advaitic texts, they seem to alternate between traditional teachings and radical teachings.

    True. Aurobindo apparently said that the old scriptures have been mutilated by the medieval intellects. Possibly, the ‘traditional’ teachings are interpretations by such intellects. Those deemed ‘radical’ could be the core of the master’s teaching.

    2. It appears that different verses are meant to appeal to aspirants at different levels of understanding. The highest and the most subtle teaching of the Self typically comes after the foundation of traditional teaching is created.

    This is the likely sales pitch used often by the intermediaries who then offer their services for helping others to reach the Self.

    3.Indeed, if we inquire deeply into the nature of the Self.

    Do we even know what it means to inquire deeply into the nature of the Self?

    4. we have to assume that we are separate from our reality in this moment.

    Do we know what is our reality or what it means to be in the moment?

    Like

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