October 12, 2010 on 11:00 am
Dear Spiritual Explorer: I am involved in a relationship that is not peaceful and ask if you could speak some of detachment? Maria, Pittsburgh, PA
Dear Maria: Sometimes we are involved in arguments with somebody because we basically want them to be different than they are. We want to not only influence them, but perhaps control them also. Some might call this codependence as opposed to detachment.
Let Go Now, Embracing Detachment by Karen Casey
Karen Casey has written a wonderful book addressing this theme in “Let Go Now, Embracing Detachment.” Based on her experiences with Al-Anon she has written a series of essays on detachment that speaks to the setting of boundaries between two people or even others. Her book speaks of “letting go and letting God,” which is a common theme that we hear in the spiritual journey on the way to detachment. How easy it is for all of us to look to the other person for resolution of our problems instead of addressing our own. When I see somebody’s anger and get angry at their anger, whose anger is it really? And conversely, when I see somebody’s beauty, whose beauty is it also? A good question is how can I realize that what I sometimes see in another person is but a reflection or projection of my own qualities.
Many people confuse detachment with “not caring.” In fact, it is attachment that is essentially not true loving, but a need to possess and control. When we practice detachment, we finally have the opportunity for real joy, the joy that comes from having control over our own lives and feelings and the ability to make our own choices for happiness.
Karen Casey’s book speaks of creating your own life and being responsible and responsive to your own feelings and emotions. How exciting it is to finally “cop” to one’s own disabling view in life and set about to creatively change it. The underlying issue with non-detachment is that we tend to look always outside ourselves instead of ruminating from within. This is a problem of western society where we have been taught that the thoughts and feelings of our peers, parents, husbands and wives, churches and institutions, somehow take precedence over own thoughts and feelings. It reminds me of a book many years ago called “Growing up Absurd,” which dealt with the problems of pressure from outside to conform to a societal and parental role.
At the end of Karen Casey’s individual essays on detachment, she distills her words into some pertinent aphorisms:
“I will let others be and enjoy them for who they are. My lesson is to let go. Every day anew, this is the lesson: to let go.”
“Today promises to be a happy one, regardless of what others are doing, if we are attending to our own business and no one else’s.”
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