Whatever you lose or is taken away from you, simply, let it go!
In yesterday’s IPL X Final between MI and RPS, when MI’s Krunal Pandya dropped Ajinkya Rahane’s catch off the bowling of Lasith Malinga, it looked like the dropped catch would cost MI the match. While frustration was writ large on the faces of players and supporters alike, with MI’s captain Rohit Sharma apparently howling in disbelief, Malinga smiled. And that’s the way he is. Whenever he is hit for a boundary or when someone drops a catch off his bowling, Malinga smiles. There’s an evolved, detached quality to his response to a competitive, aggressive, often frustrating, sporting moment.
And I simply love that quality.
It always reminds me of the simplest way to understand, appreciate and celebrate the transient nature of Life. The point Malinga’s smile is making is, don’t take anything seriously. Definitely not what you fail at or what you lose. And don’t cling on to your success, your glory, your rewards, your recognition either. After all, you can’t take anything with you when you depart from here. So, why exult, why mourn?
People often tell me that bringing this attitude to Life is difficult. And I don’t think so. Whenever you are in the grip of a frustrating situation, your own dropped catch moment, just ask yourself if that loss, that frustration will matter some years from now. Ask if it will matter when you die. It most certainly will not. So, let that feeling of frustration go. Don’t attend to it, don’t cling on to it. Just smile. Bring the same logic to moments of personal achievement too. Life happens through you, for you, but not because of you. If you remember this truth about Life you can always be unmoved, non-frustrated, and like Malinga, smiling!
Staying detached is the way to inner peace.
Someone I met last weekend told me that detachment is the “privilege of a select few”. “Most people who claim they are detached are kidding themselves. You can be detached only when you have renounced the real world,” he said.
I humbly disagreed with the gentleman.
Just because he is not able to cultivate detachment, he cannot conclude that everyone who is detached is kidding themselves. That is like saying if you can’t play cricket well, then Virat Kohli’s genius is a fluke, or that, worse, he’s a fraud!
I have worked hard enough to cultivate detachment in the past decade. So, from my experience, I can surely say that being detached is possible. Important, it is possible while living in this real world – which is, you can be here, in the throes of everyday living and challenges, and yet you can be above all of it!
There are no methods to being detached though. In fact, detachment is the way to inner peace. Understanding the true nature of Life is key to detachment. I have learnt, on a spiritual plane, success and failure, victory and defeat, mean nothing. Everything is transient, every experience is fleeting, and if you pause to reflect deeply, all creation is impermanent! Nothing will remain. No one will remain. So, what is the point in getting attached to anything you have or anything you do or to the outcomes of your efforts? Stay detached. In any situation, you have only your efforts to focus on and count on. Here’s how I deal with Life as it happens to me:
- When I get what I want – I take it easy
- When I don’t get what I want – I take it easy
- When I get what I want, without my asking for it – I take it easy
- When I get what I don’t want, without my asking for it – I take it easy
To me success and failure, have become irrelevant. I have come to realize that Life happens through me – not for me, not because of me, and often inspite of me! So, in any situation, I just make my effort and leave the result to Life. And I accept whatever comes my way!
So, if you asked me, I would say, please don’t take Life so seriously. After all, your human form and experience too will perish, will cease to be, soon. Therefore, stay detached. Stay peaceful.
Rejections and delays can’t debilitate your spirit if you are aware!
“Can you stay detached while having wants, desires and ambitions,” asked a reader after reading my blogpost yesterday.
I replied: “Of course you can. That is what the whole point of understanding detachment and its practice is all about!”
Detachment is not trying to rid yourself of your wants, dreams, ambitions, aspirations or desires. The truth is you can never be in a desire-less state. What is a desire? It is a thought. You see an ice cream hoarding and a thought arises in you reminding you of how it tastes. If you dwell on that thought a trifle longer you may even start salivating – wanting the ice cream now! So it is with every thought. You cannot reach a state of thoughtlessness. As long as you are alive thoughts will arise. The key is to learn to aware of your thoughts and to train your mind so that your thoughts don’t hold you to ransom!
Thoughts on ambitions and dreams are perfectly normal. Whatever be your career goal or your deepest aspiration you must nurture it. There can be no progress without thoughts relating to your ambitions. So detachment is not about suppression. It is also not about running scared of wants and desires. Detachment is about being aware – that, in any context, in any situation, in Life, you are entitled only to your actions and not to the results or outcomes. Which is why detachment is not about inaction. You must act, you must strive, but you must also learn to remain detached from the results.
I used to imagine that detachment was impractical. For the longest time I believed that it was a Utopian state that could not be attained by ordinary mortals. But this past decade has been an awakening experience. In this time, Vaani and I have been making every possible effort to get our business back on track (read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal). We have been discovering, repeatedly, that no matter how good we are or how hard we try, doors to a steady income don’t just open. Initially, we ended up being frustrated and dejected. After all, rejection and delays can debilitate your spirit. But when we examined the pattern closely, we found that there was nothing lacking in our efforts. Just that the results were not happening. So, we concluded that a. we must not blame ourselves if the results were not happening despite our best efforts and b. we are not the problem that we are dealing with. This awareness helped restore our self-esteem and self-confidence. This, in turn, has helped us plough on, no matter what is happening to us. This is how we learnt that detached determination is crucial to enduring inscrutable, inexplicable phases in Life. To be sure, we both are very ambitious – we want to repay all our debt, with full interest due, to the people we owe money to; we want to travel the world and live our Purpose of Inspiring Happiness among whoever cares to pause and reflect. Yes, we too have wants. And we have clear and lofty goals. But we are not frustrated, not any more, when our efforts don’t yield results. We have, if I may say so, spiked our ambitions with detachment! Which is why I call it detached determination. This is the secret of our happiness!
The truth about Life is that we must all wake up each morning and work enthusiastically doing whatever we can do best in any given situation. Beyond that, we must simply trust the process of Life. Not to try, not to work, that would be resignation, that means inaction. But to keep dreaming, to keep stoking your ambition constructively, to try and to keep trying, without getting depressed or frustrated, even when the results don’t add up, that is detachment.