On the Value of Detachment

February 11, 2023 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Nothing can stop me now, ’cause I just don’t care anymore.” “PiggyTrent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails

In a style typical of Trent Reznor, the singer/song-writer offers an important philosophical supposition in simple, everyday language: Nothing can stop me now cause I just don’t care anymore! I think Trent is suggesting that when find a way to no longer feel the need to control outcomes with people and life goals, we become free to act with courage and hope for best, and then wait for the results.

In a Detached Life One Finds Surprising Results

Through The Tao Te Ching and the Christian Mystics I am learning the invaluable lesson of what is called “detachment” or “unattached actions”—the art of mentally and emotionally detaching myself from outcomes or behaviors of other people. For, when I am too emotionally invested in outcomes, I naturally become more interested in control, as if my well-being depends on achieving the outcomes I desire.

Truthfully, I have lived most of my life setting goals and objectives, only to discover how seldom (like never) do my tangible objectives actually turn out the way I imagined them. Life has a way of inserting surprises and diversions that often make a mockery of my objectives.

A Providentialist

Derek Lin, commentator on the Tao Te Ching, writes, “Unattached action” is the state where we act without attachments to specific outcomes… By focusing on the process instead of the end result, we allow things to progress naturally and minimize our tendency to meddle.

Although I am a devout Providentialist (that is, I belief that all things are ultimately in the hands of God ), I still feel the need to surgically maneuver my efforts and the efforts of others into some end result that fits my own desires. When it comes right down to it, I want to play God in my life, and worse, in the lives of others.

Lessons Learned

Therefore the need for Detachment: During my decade of doing abstract painting, I had little idea of any specific outcome for a painting, but instead allowed my soul the freedom to simply apply the creative process and allow the result to end up wherever that work is intended to end up. The end-result was always a surprise and quite often an intimate reflection of that which lay mysteriously hidden in the depths of my inner being.

Today I am in search of a direction for the remaining years of my life. I feel the inklings of a calling, but one without precise clarity on my mission. I have this deep feeling that my direction is most likely to become an inspirer and encourager of those who are struggling with (or rejecting) religion as we know it—a religion of judgmental moralism with little emphasis on developing a loving and intimate relationship with the Creator. (More on that later.)

A Most Challenging Roadblock: Too Attached

And yes, today I am still too attached to some unknown result regarding my new direction. Detachment is my only hope. Perhaps attachment is the very roadblock I have deeply wrestled with for more than a year. Perhaps attachment is not the route of wisdom, for wisdom is more about actions today than prophetic projections of what may be in the future.

And what about you? Are you so emotionally attached to some goal (whether it be relational or life-goal) that you no longer have room for discovery and, may I say, an opportunity to witness the slow, but sure, work of God? Tis worth considering!

The Difficult Move to Detachment

Just May Be Our Only Hope for Peace and Sanity

Photo courtesy of michelangeloop at istockphoto

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