Anticipation, Expectation and for the last time Detachment
Updated: Aug 7, 2018
My first post was rather lengthy and perhaps, rambling. Compulsive as it may .
seem, I find myself wanting to explore detachment further. The word is often
defined as disinterest. I am in total disagreement. When I am disinterested in
something, I am unconcerned, even bored by it. Detachment, however, is interest without emotion or subjectivity. Nevertheless, semantics plays a large role here. So, for clarity's sake, the way I am using detachment is releasing the attachment to outcomes of actions. In broad terms, we can see how much of what we do or practice or desire in life has with it associated expectations or outcomes.
Expectations are normal. We expect or anticipate a result of action. They can
cause pain and sorrow, however, when we are emotionally attached to the
outcome. As an example, how attached was I to being the best yoga teacher and
to having students who just "loved my classes"? When am I being who I am (if I
even know who I am) and when am I doing things for the pure pleasure of how I
look in another's eyes? What do I expect as a result of my studies, work,
The only goal I have set for myself since beginning this journey as a nomad -
making my home in a tent among the trees and other beings of nature - has been
to have no agenda. For me, a huge challenge. It takes some planning and
organizing to travel, stay safe, be happy and maintain some semblance of
ordinary reality to live this life. A mindfulness practice - living “one day at a time”
does help. Nonetheless, to stay connected with family and friends entails making
arrangements, setting dates, scheduling travel routes and times. Have I been
able to do this without anticipation? No way! I can say that I have definitely
limited the mind talk surrounding the upcoming occasion, but am still eager and
excited to spend time with loved ones. Again, nothing wrong with expectations.
The difficult task, for me, is not to be so attached to them that I am disappointed or
saddened because they are not my dream. The meeting or outing was not the way
I pictured it to be. At times I am filled with joy and it is beyond my imaginings and
at others, I am disenchanted, disillusioned or saddened. I can welcome
disappointment and sadness as guests, but if they overwhelm and depress me,
there is little energy to engage in a fulfilling life.
I will always dream happy dreams. Yet, I am learning to be content with what is
because I know it is part of the process of growing and evolving and living. The
more I practice detachment, in every moment of my day, the more I begin to find
peace and balance between my inner and outer lives, my thoughts and my
emotions, my dream life and ordinary reality. I am more disposed to see myself
for who I truly am. I am not on this earth to please others if it means unhappiness
to this self. Truly, I am unable to find happiness if I spend my energy trying to
make others know pleasure. I can serve, but if I am serving to look good in the
eyes of others, then I will not find happiness. True service is with detachment.
Yes, you expect the outcomes of your service to bring about goodness, but if you
are attached to them, it will bring sadness or sorrow when the expectation you
hold is not filled. Another example: A friend asks you to help her. You do the
best you can do, with what you have to do it with and find out your friend is not
pleased, perhaps even angry. Can you still find happiness? Or do you follow suit
and become angry as well?
"I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I awoke and saw that life was service
I acted and behold, service was joy.
- Rabindranath Tagore
One tradition I have found helpful to the practice of detachment is being the
observer - watching my self without judging. As I walk, looking from the spot
between the eyebrows, I can have a broad view and I can also, in the mind's eye,
see myself from behind. I can watch walking, doing the dishes, talking to a friend,
keyboarding. The observer observes as the self living in consensual reality
attentively or mindlessly creates. The observer watches how the story unfolds
without attachment to the outcomes. The watcher (who I denote as my higher
self) observes that an action does not have expected outcomes and this reflection
is taken up by the mind, as discernment. I can therefore adjust, but again, without
emotion. A challenging practice, yet one I find worthwhile to my being.
Mindfulness is another practice that is essentially a detachment practice. If you
are mindful of what you are doing at the time you are doing it, you are not
engaged in living in the past or worrying about the future. You are present “in the
Now,” as in Eckhart Tolle’s words. If you are anticipating or daydreaming then you
are engaged in what is to come. And again, as I mentioned above, to live in
consensual reality, we must plan and schedule. Yet, while we are doing that, that
is what we are attending to at that time. When we are done, we are done and we
move in to the next moment. If the plans we have made do not meet the
expectations we have associated with them, then in that moment we experience
that reality, that Nowness. We are Present with it. We observe, the mind
discerns and we make adjustments as necessary. If sadness arises, this too is
observed and accepted as part of our humanness. And the next moment arises.
So now, I end this discourse on Detachment. At least for Now!