How Do We Practice Non-Attachment Toward Our Work?


Kindly advise me. I aspire to detach myself from my work. Suppose I have an academic exam in near future and my preparation is not up to the mark. Considering that the exam in question is important for my career, should I study late till night, eat less to aid concentration, reduce my interactions with others and confine myself to my studies — all of which I have not done before? Or should I treat exam as just another work even when I can’t afford that perspective?

—Ashutosh, India


Dear Ashutosh,

If the exam is important to your career (which I assume is important to you), you should give your full attention to preparing for it. It is not a mark of non-attachment to neglect to do that which is yours to do. Indeed, in some respects, the reluctance to put out the energy to do what must be done is itself a mark of attachment, not non-attachment!

Ironic and paradoxical as this sounds at first hearing, paradox is the mark of truth and maturity; it is the middle way; it is the spiritual path (characterized by energy rising in the central spine!).

Swami Kriyananda (founder of Ananda and a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda-ji) would often comment that reality and truth can be described as both-and, rather than either-or. So, rather than either preparing for your exam or not giving it any special attention, think “I will both prepare for my exam with full attention and focus, and I will remain calm and even-minded (rather than tense and uptight) as I do so.”

A yogi flows along the river of life, negotiating skillfully both the life-threatening rapids and enjoying the ease of the wide-flowing river, as each is presented to him on his journey toward the Ocean of Spirit. But the yogi remains ever the same; ever centered in the Self (in the spine). Okay?

Blessings to you and may you pass your exam with high marks!
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA