Profound Detachment is Playful Engagement

I am discovering interesting nuances of detachment & detached engagement.
Yesterday I was in a spontaneous conversation with my aunt. Which turned out to be beautiful. I was happy to hear her share that after going to her guru who teaches using the Bhagvad Gita, she was feeling a huge shift due to her ability be detached. She used to worry a lot about near and dear ones. She said now whenever the thought comes, she prays & lets go. Expectations, desire for a certain intimacy, etc. are not there. And naturally there is a peace now, that was missing. I said, how beautiful.
And then I told her that, to me, it appears that detachment does bring peace, and often that becomes a resting place for many of us. Which is fine.
And yet, it also can prevent us from engaging with our relationships deeply. The relationships have been troubled because of our desires and attachments and now that we have found a way to be “detached”, it is natural that we rest there.
However, for some of us- it seems – dil mange more (the heart asks for more!;) – we would like to explore from that restful place, are there greater depths of relating ? I asked her,
Is it true that somewhere in the detachment, a certain kind of aloofness may also creep in, a certain kind of a subtle resignation?
Or is there a wonder alive … what else is possible in this relationship. When we abandon wonder, we somehow lose touch with the freshness and juiciness of life.
At first there was a little resistance and she said yes its alive but thankfully, I was calm and not forceful and so she also opened up to wonder.. and asked me.. Tell me how I can do this differently. To which I said, now that’s a longer conversation – which I would love to have with you.
I have also wanted to spend time with her.. and yet it doesn’t happen. I have realised that often just a close relationship or a friendship may not ensure that time gets spent. There needs to be a shared value, something that we enjoy doing together or conversing about. Sometimes a space ensures that. Several of my coaching clients I have suggested that meet your spouse in a coffee shop and how dramatically it shifts the conversation and the relationship.
To be able to get into profound detachment, it requires me to abandon the comfort of detachment and dive into a playful engagement.
And that requires me to have an appetite for a love that is ever fresh, unknown. And so I become open to the warp & weft of it, the pain, the tenderness, the inability to control the outcome. Must I not be willing to let go of this peace which soon becomes a comfort zone and a road block to find a greater peace?
And then the question arises.. is there a peace which is unafraid of engagement? Or must I ‘control’ the conversation in a way that I don’t go near some fiery zones- because I have taken a “decision” that I need to be detached. Does it not then become a holy cow, a concept and idea and the tender vitality of a detached engagement is lost somehow.
Mostly detachment is a reaction to the pain of attachment. And that’s perfectly fine. To rest on that ground of detachment. I speak to my brother, beloved friend Rohit often about how in the whole field of awakening, that there are many masters, many paths- but very few who keep exploring the pathless land that Krishnamurti talks of.
He was conducting a session in the Tao program we do around this invitation to wake up! Which is so different from growing up and both needed in a whole human being journey. And then there is an ongoing journey he called “Awakening Up” 😉 The likes of Jeff Brown & Jeff Foster point to a human ground that embraces feelings and relationships as an integral part of awakening. Not a disembodied awakening.
There is a Shiva & there is a Krishna. There is a Ramana, a Nisargdatta who, in a conversation with Rajesh Dalal – I saw – were seeing the ending of identification with the mind-body as the end of the journey. But Krishnamurti, Kabir somehow saw as the beginning. Kabira Khada bazaar mein. (Kabir in the marketplace) One of my favourite couplets of Kabir is:
Hadd hadd jaaye har koi, unhid jaaye na koi,
Hadd unhid ke beech mein, khada Kabira sohi.
Back to my aunt.. and this question of detaching and engaging …
As we spoke and when she was not fully able to see the subtlety of diving deeper into detachment, I asked her:
Aunty, do you feel a certain juice is lost when we get detached? Is it possible to experience the juiciness of life and yet not be attached?
My beloved teacher, Rajee, a fully self-realised being, offered an Integration Program where he showed us how to bring Presence into everyday living. How can the mind and the body be also honoured and celebrated. And he says some beings explore this terrain. One of his beautiful videos which is about this Integration. He suggested that we bring in song, dance, some creative activity into our life. And it has helped me greatly to embody this detached engagement.
There are the likes of Jeff Brown, Jeff Foster & Matt Licata who invite us into the territory which is not a safe place of detachment which can often be a spiritual bypass but a profound and vulnerable engagement with being human.
If you think you “know” what is detached engagement then perhaps you may want to hold it a bit lightly and be willing to not know so as to discover its depths. A profound detached engagement is tested in intimate relationships. And it is called Love. Not what most of us misunderstand as Love most of the time but a love that Rumi invites us to when he says paradoxically:
“There is nothing that is not love”
and at another time, says,
“A thousand loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.”
But one of my favourite ones is this:
If you want what visible reality can give,
you are an employee.
If you want the unseen world,
you are not living your truth.
Both wishes are foolish
but you will be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love’s confusing joy.
Gamble everything for love,
if you’re a true human being.
If not, leave
this gathering.
Half-heartedness doesn’t reach
into majesty. You set out to find God,
but then you keep stopping
for long periods
at mean spirited roadhouses.
Some reflections for you to wonder, dear friend, if you would want to dive into this ocean of love that I would like to call playful detachment or playful engagement. Where detachment and engagement become one.
  • Pick up an intimate relationship and gently look, is there a sense of resignation that you call detachment?
  • Then look at little deeper and see.. is there an engagement that is playful? Occasionally or more often?

And if you & I don’t want to dive deeper, let’s leave this gathering.

3 thoughts on “Profound Detachment is Playful Engagement

      1. Enjoyed the piece Kiran…. beautifully segued flow and nuanced 💛
        Reminded me of a quote that I like from Baba Ram Dass
        Our journey is about being more deeply involved in Life and yet less attached to it.
        Love and warmth….

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