Detachment -- what is it?

That's right, here I go again about detachment. But I'm following the example of people in high places—that is, Baha'u'llah—and he tells us to follow his values and not the values of others.

Now I'm going to tackle the difficult task of defining detachment and exploring the experience of detachment. I am sure that most people—Baha'is included—don't have a clue what it means. It is very difficult to pin down. It's like trying to define love; it has many aspects to it and these are experienced at different levels. Two people can make contradictory statements about love while both are speaking the truth. It's the same with detachment—like love, it's a state of being and within that state there are many experiences and expressions. What I will try to do is capture the essential experience of detachment. We think of love as one basic emotion or state of being, and so I will try to capture the central thing about detachment.

I'll begin with the definitions of detachment that Baha'u'llah gives us. As far as I'm aware, there are two. The first is in Commentary on 'He who knows his self knows his Lord'. Baha'u'llah says:

"Thou hast inquired about detachment. It is well known to thee that by detachment is intended the detachment of the soul from all else but God. That is, it consisteth in soaring up to an eternal station, wherein nothing that can be seen between heaven and earth deterreth the seeker from the Absolute Truth. In other words, he is not veiled from divine love or from busying himself with the mention of God by the love of any other thing or by his immersion therein."

The second definition is in the Words of Wisdom: "The essence of detachment is for man to turn his face towards the courts of the Lord, to enter His Presence, behold His Countenance, and stand as witness before Him." (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p155)

So, what can we glean from these? Detachment is about the soul leaving everything behind and 'journeying' to its Lord. In doing so, it finds a place that is eternal, and in that place it isn't concerned with anything else but God—nothing gets between the soul and God or the Absolute Truth. That soul is busied with mentioning God and isn't in love with anything else or immersed in anything else. In that eternal place, the soul is in the presence of God, sees God and bears witness to God.

Original blog entry...