How the Buddhist Art of Detachment is the Opposite of What You Imagine
Many westerners are confused about a big component of meditation and mindfulness.
They think “letting go,” a practice seekers on the path to enlightenment follow, is about separation and indifference. The truth, though, is the Buddhist concept of detachment involves releasing the ego to create a far greater connection with others than is ordinarily achieved. When you truly let go of the need to manipulate or gain from situations and individuals, you are compassionate and loving rather than aloof.
What are you detaching from?
The misconception that detachment leads to disinterest stems from the notion you must withdraw emotionally during Zen. What you actually leave behind, though, is your ego, not love and closeness to other living beings. When you move away from your ego, you shift closer to unconditional love. You love others deeply enough not to need them to please you or behave in certain ways for you to accept them.
Why the misconception arises
To the untrained eye, people steeped in Zen don’t interact as much with others. In fact, most just communicate in an unfamiliar style. Rather than judging, diagnosing, and giving opinions, seasoned Zen practitioners accept others and care equally for them, no matter what.
The first step to detachment
Initially, moving away from the ego begins when people learn to witness what happens. The process seems to be unemotional, but isn’t devoid of love. Detachment comes when the urge to condemn or praise due to ego-based opinions ceases. The emotions underneath the ego are compassion, benevolence, and love, and they come with the ability to observe what happens without judging.
Detachment, then, is about getting closer to pure, loving emotions and further away from ego consciousness.
Mindfulness can help those who practice Zen hold the intention to be non-judgmental and loving, even when the ego is perceived. Eventually, the ego fades and people can experience and give love without strings attached.