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.