Free Yourself from All Attachments

Happiness is not possible without non-attachment. The person attached to the fruits of his actions suffers as a result of his attachments. He performs all actions concentrating on the fruits of actions and is elated by success and cast down by failure. Through non-attachment, the same person, even though he lives in the world, experiences even-mindedness whatever the outcome of his efforts. How sad it is to see the suffering people go through when they base their expectations of happiness on other people, or on circumstances over which they have no control.

Contrary to common assumptions, giving up attachments does not mean self-deprivation or suffering. When I was young, I practiced for a time deliberately watching myself as if from the outside: eating, walking, bathing, serving others without attachment. That practice felt a bit strange at first but, in the end, gave me a wonderful sense of freedom.

A mind attached to the little fruits of actions cannot possibly identify itself with the universal consciousness of God, possessed of all power in the universe, spiritual and material. Just as an unsteady mirror cannot properly reflect the objects in front of it, so a mind constantly disturbed by the thoughts of success or failure cannot reflect the deep unchangeable spirit of God.

The spiritual aspirant is thus advised to perform all duties, including meditation, without any thought of gain, but only with the thought of knowing God.

Meditation brings soul remembrance

To live in the world without conquering desires is to be consumed with mental worries. To leave the world and go to the forest to meditate is no solution, for your earthly desires can follow you to the forest. Desires are unavoidable, but most human longings hamper the fulfillment of the supreme desire, which is to return to God. To distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable desires, you must learn to be guided by your conscience, the divine discriminative power within you.

God is omnipresent. Man’s soul, made in God’s image, has within it the seed of omnipresence. This consciousness of omnipresence is hidden in the soul just as a tree is secreted in a small seed. Due to long concentration upon the necessities of the body, the soul has forgotten its omnipresent nature and thinks of itself as limited by flesh. Inevitably, if you depend too much on anything external to your divine nature, you will lose the consciousness of God and, in the process, undermine your happiness.

Those who aspire to expand into the all-pervading God-Consciousness must learn to meditate upon the Infinite. Meditation upon the Infinite, as it grows deeper, convinces the mind that it is not limited by the little body, but is present in everything. Meditation includes constant thinking of the vastness within and without. Gradually, the soul forgets its attachment to the little body and remembers itself as the vast body of God. Through meditation and the experience of the vastness within and without, the soul transcends its attachment to the body and remembers its divine nature.

The spreading light of sympathy

The consciousness of a worldly person does not extend beyond the gates of his own home. The spiritual man, through meditation and the spreading light of sympathy, is able to feel the pain and disappointments of other souls. As he remembers his omnipresent nature, he begins to feel that the world, and the entire cosmos, is his home.

To achieve this state of consciousness, the spiritual aspirant must do away even with little body attachments. He must learn to be proof against warm or cold climates, to overcome hunger and pain, and to conquer all the appetites and attachments which govern the little body. As long as the mind is focused on the body, even in small ways, the soul cannot remember its omnipresent nature.

As an aid to remembrance, whenever you eat, always try to think: “Thou hast given me the urge of hunger. I eat not because of greed, but in order to maintain Thy Temple of Consciousness, and to please Thee.” Similarly, when you are working, try to think: “I am earning money solely to discharge my Heaven-given responsibility to maintain myself and those entrusted to me. In all that I do, I seek to please Thee alone.”

Try not to become strongly attached to anything or anyone, even your own children. A mother must learn to say: “My child is taken away from me, that God may glorify him. I am happy for his sake.” Only when the mother can withdraw feelings of attachment is she able to understand what love truly is. Attachment can never foster love. It destroys love, and is the source of all our miseries.

Will power and self-control

To give food and jobs to the needed is good, but to give wisdom is the greatest gift. By wisdom one can conquer everything else and live in the spirit of God. You must know how to acquire that wisdom. If you live with the consciousness that you are His child, you cannot lose. A man of God is not afraid; he is able to create at will what he needs. Once you experience the Spirit as your own, you are no longer afraid.

You must never forget that you are a free agent. Your will power is always free. You can only change your karma if you use will power and are guided by wisdom. If you guide your actions by will power and wisdom, the power of your past wrong actions will grow weaker and your habits of good actions will grow stronger. Using your will power in these ways will, in time, create new and better karma for you.

Until you know God, your unconquered desires will remain in the heart and hound you. There is no real freedom without Him. So you must put your mind on the God-Center within you. Whatever you do or think, God must always be uppermost in your mind. When you are in tune with God, you can accomplish anything at any time. But most people don’t want to make the effort, so they give up.

Five practices that lead to non-attachment

1. Every morning, affirm that the only desire in your heart is the desire for God. Be steadfast in this practice until you do everything with the consciousness of God. Recite the following affirmation: “Be Thou the only King sitting on the Throne of all my desires.”

2. Concentrate on fulfilling your legitimate “needs” without creating extra desires. Learn to distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable desires by seeking guidance from your conscience, the divine discriminative power within you.

3. As you go about your daily tasks, try to think that God is working through you, watching over you, and guiding all your actions. Make God responsible for your mistakes. Give both the good and the bad that you do to God. That doesn’t mean, or course, that you should deliberately do bad things.

4. If a worldly habit is so strong in you that you can’t transcend it, always affirm, “God is acting through me.” God alone dreamed you into existence when He made you a separate ego. The very thought of separation from God is a delusion.

5. Always remember that your body belongs to God and He expects you to look after it impersonally. Should you experience unexpected illness, simply say, “Lord, that is all right.” When experiencing pain, try to discipline the mind to endure, with the ultimate goal of rising above all pain and discomfort.

Perform all actions to please God.

When you speak of non-attachment, it disturbs most people because they think they will have to give something up. But they won’t lose anything. Through non-attachment, you rise above the body, become a master, and attain immortal happiness. Non-attachment to the body makes one a master.

Non-attachment does not mean to be without ambition. It means not to be egotistically ambitious for oneself, but to perform all tasks with the desire to please God.

Actions performed to please God create no attachment. If you work with the consciousness of pleasing God, you do not carry any attachment with you when you die. If you act with a desire for personal gain, and die with that desire unfulfilled, you must return to earth to fulfill that desire. The egotist, who works only to please himself, becomes involved in an endless net of desires.

Those who come on earth and learn to do everything to please God, and not to satisfy the craving of the ego, are freed from the need to reincarnate. Performing good deeds, not for oneself, but to please God, cuts the cord of attachment which brings souls back to earth.

God’s methods are not those of an Almighty Being always seeking to punish us. He has created us and given us freedom. We must humbly work out our destiny with His help.

From talks and articles

Clarity Magazine

Sharing the Teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda


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