You have heard of concentration and you have heard of detachment. But you have probably never heard them together. It is probably hard for you to make sense of them with each-other. But as you will see, they must go together to make your mind a perfect instrument for living and creating.
An act of deep concentration is the demonstration of the intense fire that one carries within. To be immersed in the world and yet be perfectly detached is the demonstration of the wisdom of life.
You know that concentration is the power that gets great things done. Whatever you focus on grows in your life. You can create any outcome you want if you concentrate your energies properly into that task. But there is also a danger that you become too obsessed, too attached with it. That attachment leads to distortion of perspective and later on inevitably leads to suffering. That is why development of detachment is equally important. This post gives you a glimpse of what you will find in the book.
Why I wrote this book
I have always been fascinated by the abilities of human mind. But more importantly, I see it as a doorway to go higher than survival. After all, we eat, drink, sleep, reproduce and then die one day. If there is life any better than that, it must come from developing our minds and our awareness. That is why this whole blog and my work around it has come up. And this book was the first step that I took in this direction of exploring human mind.
This book has grown from a few words by Swami Vivekananda:
“How has all the knowledge in the world been gained but by the concentration of the powers of the mind? The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give it the necessary blow. The strength and force of the blow come through concentration.”
“There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is, the more power is brought to bear on one point; that is the secret.”
“Almost all of our suffering is caused by our not having the power of detachment. So along with the development of concentration, we must develop the power of detachment.”
“To me, the very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collecting of facts. If I had to do my education over again and had any voice in the matter, I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration and detachment, and then with a perfect instrument I could collect facts at will.”
Taking these words as seeds, this book explores ‘Concentration and Detachment’ in a fundamental way. It starts right from “why we can’t concentrate naturally?” and develops deep insight into the subject. Then it gives a simple framework which can be easily put into practice. The detachment chapter opens up various ways of looking at the world, asking questions about one’s true identity. After giving deep insights into the subject, the practical part of the detachment chapter creates fun scenarios to start making practice of detachment a habit.
Thus this book is a good combination of psychological and spiritual thoughts. Here are some words taken from the book.
“concentration is about going within. Concentration is your nature. Working with concentration is more of a discovery than a skill. When one practices deep concentration more and more, it becomes his nature to understand the depth of any area that he gets involved in. Working with concentration is more like understanding music rather than learning a skill like playing piano. Looking at it this way changes how you approach any kind of work. Now it becomes more about the discovery of yourself rather than being good at something.”
Most people see concentration as a ‘skill to develop’. But concentration is not something external. It is simply your awareness focused on a single point. It is something to ‘grow’ and not something to ‘improve’. And to grow something, like a tree or a flower, you need to create a proper environment around it.
“One is passive concentration where your presence is not needed. Such as TV series or social media. Things keep coming on the screen and your mind automatically keeps attention on them. They do all the work and make you lazy. The other is active concentration, where you pick up a challenging task and keep the mind concentrated till that challenge is complete”
Understand the difference between lazy concentration and active concentration. Your mind naturally doesn’t want to take the pain of growth. If you leave it unchecked, you will soon find it hooked into tasks which don’t require mental effort. But they never lead to growth. If you want growth, put an effort to place your mind on tasks which are challenging and require active involvement of thinking.
“How many steps are required for you to initiate the task? More steps, more mental effort. If my keyboard piano was just there open, waiting for me to play, it would save a lot of energy which is required in initiating the work. That saved energy gets used in concentration. Think about how you can reduce the number of steps that you need to take to start the work. Even such small details as how many folders you need to open to get into the file that you are currently working on matter a lot.”
The most difficult part of any work is to start it. Every evening I struggle to unhang the piano keyboard which hangs on the wall. Then I uncover it, put it on the table, plug in the wires, attach the sustain pedal, turn on the switch and then start playing it. Lots of effort!… If there was a possibility, I would leave it open on a separate table, that way it would reduce the mental effort to initiate the task.
“Our attachment is not outside of us. Attachment is always in the mind. It is important to understand this because we usually make the mistake of saying, “I am too attached to that person”. No. You are only attached to your image of that person. This attachment has happened because you have let your mind repeat those pleasant moments in order to feel them again and again. You have let your mind fantasize and dream all the good things that you think of doing together. These repeated thoughts have created an image of that person in your mind, which has distorted your perspective of reality. Now you don’t see that person as himself or herself but rather with reference to the image that you have created.”
To become detached from anything, first it is important to understand that attachment is only in the mind. Therefore changing outside situations, running away from your attachments, or avoiding people you are attached to will not help much. To become detached, you need to see a clear separation between ‘you’ and ‘your mind’.
“One says, “I am happy, I am sad, I am angry, I am jealous…etc. The other says, “I am feeling happiness. I am seeing the anger rise in me, I am observing the jealousy rise in me”.
What is the difference between the two?
The first one has become his feelings. He has no choice but to react according to his feelings. He reacts as soon as any emotion arises in him. He is compelled to do so because he isn’t aware enough to watch his emotions. If one can’t observe his emotions, there is no question of controlling them.”
Detachment is possible because as humans we can become ‘self-aware’. The whole power of thought or emotion is when you identify with it. When people are taken over by their anger, they create hell around them. But if one waits and observes this anger rising, he gains power over that emotion. That energy of emotion is
put in check and then can be transformed as he wishes.
Attachment is identification and detachment is disidentification. One needs to consciously start disidentifying with the things that we think we are.
● It takes some awareness to look in the mirror and remember, “This is my body, but it is not me”.
● It takes some awareness to pause when someone calls out your name to say, “they are calling out my name and not me”.
These little moments of awareness are the stepping stones to breaking our mistaken identity. Each time you take this pause, you get a sense that you are only a witness. Actions are being taken through the body, thinking is being done by the mind. I do nothing. I am not a person. I am only the witness.
Attachment is a mistake that happens because of ignorance. Attachment is a result of deep hypnosis, of repeated suggestions which lead us to believe our false identity. We don’t know who we truly are. And therefore we identify with everything that is
close and dear to us and become attached to it. To break this attachment we require equally deep counter suggestions which are repeated often.
Designed as a composition of words, Zen stories, quotes, graphics, scenarios, and my insights, this book is an enjoyable journey to understanding the most fundamental abilities of the human mind. Having so much variety of concepts, this book is a suitable read for anyone above the age of 13. Students can learn to enhance their concentration skills using the practical tools given in the book. Working individuals get a much better understanding of how to maintain a work-life balance by learning the secret of work. People of older age can extract the deep spiritual ideas related to concentration and detachment given in this book.
Do leave your thoughts in the comments below about the book! And also I would really appreciate if you give a rating and/or a review on amazon page!
Don't forget to keep learning!
Enter your email and get notified whenever I have a new blog post for you!