Maria (right) holds umbrella for Swami Kriyananda.

A dear friend of ours, Maria, passed away from cancer 2 years ago. As her husband was taking her to the hospital, in the last stages of her life, she gave him this amazing advice, “Detach yourself. Control the reactive process. Live the teachings.” One could almost say that these simple words sum up the spiritual path. They also show us how we can be happy in all circumstances.

Only a little reflection allows us to see that the things that happen, in and of themselves, aren’t the issue. It is how we react to events that make them seem positive or negative. Rainy weather is just rainy weather. It seems positive or negative according to our likes and dislikes — gardeners love it, sunbathers not so much.

When we detach ourselves we gain control over our reactions. Here is an example I read once: Imagine sitting on a crowded bus with a cup of coffee. Just as you are about to take a sip, someone bumps your elbow causing you to spill all over yourself. Your immediate reaction is anger and you turn to give the person a piece of your mind. Then you see that he is blind. See how the change in your expectation (of what you consider to be normal behavior) changes your reaction?

The tranquility of saints is due to the fact that they accept life exactly as it is. Their power to change others starts with accepting them as they are — a good model for us to follow. And it starts with detachment and non-reaction. Be attentive to the very next thing that upsets your peace of mind. Now trace back to why you are upset. Were you holding an expectation regarding the behavior of others? If you can let go of the expectation, you can let go of the negative reaction. Only once the negative reaction is gone, can you begin to surround the person or situation with peace, love, and harmony.

When we are dealing with an issue affecting us, especially one that pushes our buttons, here is a helpful technique. Imagine that the situation is happening, not to you, but to a friend. What advice would you give him or her? A little bit of mental distance can help us be much more objective.

Being non-attached is an easy principle to understand but a hard one to practice. Yet, if we can practice even a little of Maria’s advice, to detach from expectations and control our reactions and live the teachings, it will yield a harvest of peace and happiness.

In joy,
Nayaswami Jyotish


  1. We have more work and more people in the cafe during season, and much more situations we are facing. How many times we discovered the meaning of these words!
    Thank you for so straight and clear words.
    Appreciate much Jyotish!

  2. As expected, perfectly timed advise. I will rise to the challenge. Thank you divine mother.

  3. Dearest Jyotish,
    Thank you so very much for remembering Maria. She was a dear friend and touched my life deeply in a saintly way. I am ever eternally grateful to her. Just about that time we had a retreat in Boston three or so years ago and I cherish every minute spent with her and all the blessings I have received. I am also blessed to have met Devarshi also.
    And thank you for all these reminders about detachment. They came at the right time, as I have been struggling lately with my reactive process to my almost (in two weeks) teenage son, who has been a perfect teacher for me in controlling my reactive process and living the teachings! I am so grateful to him for guiding me in how to apply these teachings to the raw circumstances daily (and sometimes hourly). I don’t know how other parents survive without Kriya and these life-saving teachings! I am so grateful for all these blessings, of course in relation to life itself (beyond teenagers). Much love to you, dear Jyotish and to dear Devy. In Divine Love and Friendship, Luba

  4. Dear Jyotish,
    I had heard this advice that Maria gave to her husband before (Sunday Sermon) and, at the time, I was also dealing with cancer. I have to say that when I heard it the first time, it hit me like a lightning bolt. It made me realize that if I did not detach from what was happening, life would be a long suffering for me and everyone around me. It instilled in me the need to be the Observer of what was happening to the body, to detach myself from it and enjoy my life and it gave me the courage to accept in an ever so loving manner. I have realized, humbly, that difficulties are blessings in disguise because they are guiding me to that beautiful place of silence in my heart, in His loving arms. Thank you Maria. I sense that you were a very beautiful courageous soul. Thank you Jyotish and Devi. This really touched me this morning… Blessings to all!

  5. Thanks jyotishji,
    yes the blind man and thinking what advice you would give your friend are such a help ! Wishing I never forget!

  6. Ah, blessed vairāgya (non-attachment)!!! Derived from the word virāga (joining vi meaning “without” + rāga meaning “passion, feeling, emotion, interest”). This gives vairāgya a general meaning of detachment in things that would cause attachment in most people.
    Further etymological definition indicates the root “rańj”, referring to color. “Vi – rańj + ghaiṋ = virága. The state of virága is vaerágya. Virága means “to go beyond color” or “to be uncolored”. To remain completely engaged in the world yet uncolored by the world is called vaerágya.
    Thank you again, Jyotish!

  7. Thank you so very much dear Jyotish and Devi for the timeless reminders and as usual a wonderfully well written article. We are all so blessed to have you sharing wisdom and guidance with our community through your writing and webinars.
    Our reactions to actually neutral events….we may want to look at every circumstances as a success (even if appearing difficult to handle), as they make us grow and better ourselves, isn’t this the goal of life and the way to tune in with the Divine?
    Thank you again so very much, in Divine Friendship

  8. Thank you Jyotish,
    A wonderful little book that reinforces this theme was written by my first teacher in meditation back in the 1970’s, leading me to Master. The book is still available and gives many “aha” moments for those on the path. A followup book on “Relationships” is equally insightful.
    The Results Book
    by Wally Minto

    1. Hi can you give me the complete names and authors of these two books, and where you think I might find them. Thank you! Kat.

      1. Yes Kat,
        The books referred to were written by Wally Minto, a lecturer, meditator, and founder of Alpha Awareness, and friend for many years. He told me years later that Yogananda was a prime inspiration for his work and development back in the 1960’s, 70’s.
        The books written by Wally are “The Results Book” and “Understanding Relationships”, available on Amazon, or Ebay. Please contact me if you would like further details. Injoy, Eric

  9. Thankyou my divinefriend.Swamijiis pouringin to his friends through you.soultouching articles&parables.GOD.GURUS&SWAMIJI Bless allof you&us

  10. Thanks Jyotishji,
    Well said, non-attachment is very easy to understand as a principle, but hard to practice after spending life amidst relationships and material. This takes me to reminiscence of the quality time we (the Indian devotee group) spent with Dave and smiling talkative Maria at Anada Village in 2006. Thanks for the inspiring write up. Pranaam to Jyotishji and deviji.- Ashok

  11. Thank you so much for this reminder. I have always found it very hard to be detached from my family, and out of that fear and difficulty has come a lot of “pain and suffering” all of which was self imposed! I have learned that loving someone does not mean that “attachment” to them and their “Stuff” is not mandatory. Thank for your elegant reminder.

  12. Thank you for writing this. My father recently broke his hip. Life has suddenly changed. None of us want this situation but here it is. Wonderful words to keep in my mind. Blessings to you.

  13. Thank You Jyotish and Devi for these letters. Every one I read brings me the guidance and inspiration I need right at that moment. This is a great service.

  14. Dear Jyotish,
    This letter is giving me more enlightment about the course i am taking with Reiki Blessing (AKASH).
    You are always writing a very nice, touching, fascinating weekly letters. Thank you so much.
    More Love and Blessings to you and devi.

  15. Jyotishji!
    Thank you very much for writing such an article with a huge message in a very simple language. I have been listening to your online lectures and reading your articles and really touched by your simplicity and deep knowledge in those teachings. Please accept my “PRANAM” by heart.

  16. Sometimes I feel like I am flying solo. No, for me the concept of non attachment is Not easy. Furthermore, I do not understand how one can obtain happiness from non attachment. Peace, I suppose yes because if I detach myself then there is no opportunity for emotional turbulence– since I am detached. However, the flip side of that is where my discontent comes into play. For if I Do detach myself, then how can I feel the excitement, the wonderful Anticipation of something or someone wonderful coming into my life. This concept of detachment in reality has become a painful concept for me. Yes, I want the peace and freedom of non attachment, but I simply cannot See how I can get “that part” without giving up the wonderful emotions of anticipation, excitement, and the like— which have indeed caused me much emotional pain because my “anticipation” of such things has often been a letdown, or has not come to fruition. I just do not understand HOW to detach and still maintain an emotional excitement for life. HOW do you do THAT? I would so appreciate Jyotish answering this question. Kat

    1. Dear Kat,
      Very humbly I would like to comment on your posting. Expectations comes from re-programming the subconscious (which dreams and imagine based on past experience and memory). The joy we all may experience after acquiring or obtaining something, is not really joy. Joy is already in us, gift from our Lord as He is all Joy and so are we. When we experience joy after an anticipation for some event or occurence, it is because what happens in this case releases the already present joy in us. It is not what we acquire or obtain that gives us any joy, the object in question is absolutely neutral. It is our reaction that triggers our subconscious to release the already present joy, it has been reprogrammed based on the expectation. The soul is pure Joy and it sends or activate the force of joy towards the subconscious (which is a powerful horse or force without direction) to act as joyous because of an anticipation.
      Now, detachment, as per Master’s teaching and commentary in the Bhagavad Gita, is performing all actions without hopes or fear consequently detached from the outcome. We need to act because our Beloved wants us to act….He creates all the time, tirelessly without any attachment (read fear or hope) to the outcome and consequently we are encouraged repeatedly by the scriptures to act the same, even minded, with poise and independently of the outcome.
      If we all stay even minded (the secret of happiness as Swamiji points out in so many wonderful talk available through Ananda), we can enjoy in the Joy of God all the wonders and miracles in our daily lives without performing actions which could trigger the cycle of karma because based on desires and attachment.
      Please forgive my english as french is my mother tongue, but I hope this in simple term may clarify and help.
      In Divine Friendship

      1. I appreciate the time and thought you took to respond to my comments. Your comments are more a philosophical point of view. I am seeking “how to”. That is, I cannot understand HOW one can detach without becoming docile. For example, say I want to acheive a goal of opening a business. In order to do that, I Must become emotionally invested in the goal in order to create the energy and drive that will be required to achieve that goal. Now I just do not see how I can conjure up that energy and drive, without becoming attached to the outcome. ( that is success, or not, of my desired goal). And with that energy, drive, and effort to create success of my goal.. If the goal does not come to pass, I will be disappointed. I just Cannot See HOW I can detach from such an outcome, after such an investment of motivation and drive to achieve my goal. So if goal achieved – happy, not achieved – sad. Bottom line is:
        Achievement of goal = expenditure of energy and motivation
        Mustering up energy and motivation = Desire
        Desire = attachment to the project! otherwise no motivation to do it
        Failure or success of goal = happiness for achievement or pain for non-achievement
        This is just simply the WAY emotions function. Now if I need to “detach” to outcomes in order to be happy. To me that is like trying to tell me to change the color of my eyes. I just simply do not KNOW HOW to do that. Do you? Kat

        1. Man is nothingbut acondenced energy A bundle of knot. There is no thought center in our brain.thoughts are universally routed& not individually routed.when a thought comes the neurotransmitter s are released &action takes place. Depending on our past lifes action the destiny of each individual is fixed from birth 2 death. As PARAMHANSA YOGANANDA HAS TOLD.ONLY BY MEDITION YOU CAN CHANGE THECOURCE OF EVENT SUCCESS&FAILURE ARE IN THE MIND.socrates said I am just picking pebbles on the shores. If you go deeo in the sea if your consciousness yiu vil find pearls gems ofGOD.

    2. Dear Kat,
      So sorry I got in the way in answering, I overlooked your last sentence. I just realized you asked for Jyotish’s answer…my love and enthusiasm for Master and his teaching made me stepping in the middle. So terribly sorry about that.
      In Joy

  17. thank you for this message. I will follow the technique of thinking as if the person giving anger to my friend and not me.
    please suggest some affirmation to stay away from anger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *