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What Is Non-Attachment?

Attachment and Non-Attachment

We all want to understand the meaning of life. Eating, sleeping, and performing other natural functions, without an understanding of the purpose of life, makes an animal of man. To be a human being, one needs to know the purpose of life. That purpose is liberation, and liberation can be achieved through non-attached actions.

We all want to understand the meaning of life.

We must learn how to live our lives to facilitate the process of liberation. We should always accept life as a challenge and not be disappointed by anything, for life is simply a vehicle for us. Sooner or later, we will find God or truth within ourselves. We will realize that we do not exist as individual entities; it is only our ignorance that makes us think that we exist apart from the whole. We need to replace manhood by Godhood, and for this we must become real human beings. We need to realize that we are ancient travelers in this world and that our purpose is to attain perfection. The way to do this is through non-attachment.

In the West there is a widespread fear of losing the ego or personality. Through meditation we find that we can actually expand the ego, not lose it. We must become large-hearted, expanding to take in more and more of our fellow beings and the rest of the world, rather than identifying with the individual, isolated self. We must think of ourselves as travelers temporarily passing through life in this world. We are only using this body, these experiences, these material objects. They are temporarily on loan; they are not ours. We are borrowing them, and sooner or later we will leave them behind. There is nothing to fear; our purpose is not to possess these things but to use them in order to transcend them. This is the truth.

We normally identify with our actions. But we must learn that our actions are not our personal possessions. We need not be attached to them. It is of utmost importance to understand the principle of non-attachment in order to become free from the fruits of our actions.

Meditation enables you to perfect yourself all alone.

Non-attachment does not mean non-enjoyment. Normally when we perform an action we are not free from the fruits of that action. For example, when we pray we usually ask for something. This is known as “man-centered” prayer, in which demands are made. Even though we are praying, this is not a liberating act for we are attached to the fruits of our prayer. There is another kind of prayer called “God-centered,” which is for the purpose of enlightenment—for example, “Lord, help me in enlightening myself,” or “Help me to attain freedom.” However, even in these cases, to consider God outside of ourselves does not help us. It is more important to think that God is within us so that we see ourselves as an instrument, a child, a servant of the Beloved, of God. In this way we may approach a prayer as an act of non-attachment. You may always choose the relationship with God which best suits you. If he is your friend, then you may accept his guidance. If you recognize him as your guide, then you may know yourself as his instrument. You must have confidence that God is within you.

In order to achieve understanding and self-knowledge through non-attachment you need meditation. Meditation enables you to perfect yourself all alone. All alone means “all in one.” It does not mean lonely. People, even friends, make you lonely because they lead you to seek help from the external world. Only your friend within can help you. Fulfillment comes only from within. Other people can give you help but not fulfillment. There is no point in demanding love either. By giving love you will receive love in return, but still no one can satisfy you. You alone can satisfy yourself through the supreme “I.” Through meditation you can allow your “I” to meet the supreme “I.” It is the rope of karma which binds us and prevents us from realizing this truth.

Source: Freedom from the Bondage of Karma by Swami Rama

About the Teacher

Swami Rama

One of the greatest adepts, teachers, writers, and humanitarians of the 20th century, Swami Rama (1925–1996) is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in northern India, he was raised from early childhood by the Himalayan sage, Bengali Baba. Under the guidance of his master, he traveled from monastery to monastery and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster, who was living in a remote region of Tibet. In addition to this intense spiritual training, Swami Rama received higher education in both India and Europe. From 1949 to 1952, he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. Thereafter, he returned to his master to receive further training at his cave monastery, and finally, in 1969, came to the United States, where he founded the Himalayan Institute. His best-known work, Living with the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.

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