Sunday, July 11, 2010

365 Lessons-Lesson 192: Detachment Arises from Clarity of the Mind

Today's post is brought to you by my husband, Seong Yoon Lee, a former Buddhist monk in the Chogye Order in South Korea. Seong Yoon has dedicated his life to sharing the insights and knowledge he has gained through his practice in the monastery and in daily life. He is an inspiration to so many people. He now teaches yoga, a practice he was first introduced to by his master in the monastery, at his own private yoga studio near Seattle. English is not his first language, but I have learned by watching him and hearing him speak to groups of people that the essence of what he wishes to convey to his students is deeply felt. Here he is to talk to you today about detachment; a concept which is easy to understand in theory, but so difficult to practice in every day life.

Normally, in yoga practice, people talk about detaching from worldly things. If you do this it will give you freedom. But, in our daily life, we are attached to so many different things like family, work, friends, community, children, etc. So, it's very hard to do this. These things are our fuel to live in daily life. Relating to each other is required, otherwise our community doesn't work.

So why do yogis keep saying that the detachment of the mind will give you freedom? I think it's not because of detachment itself. Detachment arises from the state of our mind. So, detachment is the product of our own clarity.

For our minds to function properly, we need two components: subject and object. And through that interaction, we perceive the world; we live every second of our lives through that interaction. Some things we like and some things we don't like.

But, through yoga practice, if our energy body begins to open up, we feel lightness, a sense of joy and a sense of peace. But sometimes not. Sometimes old memories or heavy emotions rise to the surface through our practice. So each time we don't know what will come out.

Just let it happen it's own way because nature works without our thinking mind. What's actually happening is that our openness creates a force that naturally wants go within; we close our eyes and want to feel ourselves. We don't need to try or exert a lot of effort, it just happens. That taste of the present moment through the physical body is good. Through that taste, we begin to enjoy the state of simple existence and I think that is right concentration of the mind because we are not distracted by outside things and we naturally want to reside in the deeper sense of ourselves.

So that is the state of meditation. Relaxed but wide awake. Sustained without effort.

If we feel that quality within us, our mind becomes clear and becomes independent without an object. It feels like all outside things are a reflection of the mind, or a shadow of the mind or a mirror of consciousness.

If we feel that, the natural state of the detached mind arises. We feel space and freedom. Also, we don't have any special business with outside things in that moment. We sees things as they are and not the way we want to see or feel these things. Everything seems so clear like a reflected image on a calm lake.

But that detached mind doesn't cause you to say, "I don't care about people or things anymore." I think we begin to care more. A detached mind arises naturally from our clarity and give us a sense of spaciousness. In that spaciousness, we expand ourselves and are able to feel greater sense of compassion, love and kindness for all beings.

Some people think they should not buy a nice car or house because they are practicing detachment and want to rid themselves of possessions. This is not true detachment. If these things bring you happiness, go ahead and enjoy them. Enjoy your house. Enjoy your car. Enjoy your day. You should never suppress what you feel in the name of detachment. If you do this, life doesn't seem like much fun.

Develop your clarity and awareness and then you'll know what the right balance for you is. Then you will truly begin to enjoy your day and your life.


  1. Wonderful. I would have to read this several times and give it a lot of thought in order to get the full meaning. Talking about it with your husband in person would undoubtedly help me to understand the idea more clearly (there is nothing like having a teacher present to explain and demonstrate). At this point, I will take his advice and enjoy my house, even with all its faults.