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Thursday, 08 December 2011 02:34

Attachment, detachment and non-attachment

Written by  Krishna Bhatta e
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Karma Management:  Attachment, Detachment and Non-attachment

We have discussed definition of karma, karma sanyas (giving up of routine mundane actions) and sakam karma (desire driven actions).  The one other kind left to discuss is nishkam karma (action without any attachment).  It is important to understand attachment, detachment and non-attachment.

Attachment is an acquired phenomenon.  A child is not born with attachment.  We teach attachment to the child as we develop our attachment to the child as well.  The attachment is quite subtle and deep at the same time.  As the child grows, he or she becomes part of the parents’ and grandparents’ existence.

This happens all around us.  I used to play tennis.  I had a tennis friend circle.  Now I have become more of golf player and I now have a golf friend circle.  We sometimes go together to Bermuda for a golf vacation, mix together, eat together, play together and bond together.  This bonding is nothing but deepening our attachment to each other. 

We miss someone when he or she dies.  That person is gone.  Why does it hurt?  Why do we mourn?   That person had become a part of our inner being through the process of ongoing attachment.  When he or she dies, something inside us dies as well.  That place was created over a period of time.  There were many associations and memories with that corner of our being.  That little important corner has been ripped out by the call of death. 

Detachment is also an acquired phenomenon.  By default you ought to be attached to be able to detach.  There is nothing to detach if there is no attachment.

This needs to be understood.  A common understanding about people who go for an austere life is that these people are detached from the regular world and regular life.  Is that true.  Let us examine that.  If the person was in the regular life and regular world before, it is possible.  He was married.  He had a job.  Now he spends his life in service of God and has left his family behind.  Detachment may have a role here.

Many just decide to spend their life in service of God and his ministry.  I mentioned above that I played tennis before and now I play gold.  Am I detached from tennis now or do I have more attachment to golf, so much so that I do not even miss tennis.  Shifting of attachment is not detachment.  Being attached to good deeds, doing service to others and praying to the Lord does not have to be because of detachment to the worldly life.  It may just be love and intense attachment to those kind of lives.  It must give you joy to be in that setting.

Karma management is interesting in light of this attachment and detachment.  Let us understand it by hypothetical examples.  I am in healthcare so will use healthcare example.  You are CEO of a hospital.  You get attached to what you want to do.  You want to get the hospital to the top position in the state.  You would like to make it a patient friendly place.  You want to get the best physicians in the place.  You are passionate about it.

It is fine if you do not need support from others.  You want to make your point.  You want everyone on board with your idea.  Someone on the board of trustees does not like the idea.  You start despising that board member.  That reflects in how you deal with that board member.  Some of your management team is not supportive either although they would not speak up because they are afraid of what the consequences may be.  You sense this and find out who that person is.  You decide to confront the person to teach a lesson.

Things are not going right.  You feel dejected and frustrated.  Why are people not able to see your intentions?  You are trying to do what is good and great for the community.  You feel like getting detached.  You drop everything about the project.  Why should you get burned out?  This place is not worth your best efforts.

No CEO behaves the way I have outlined above.  But, some of those actions may happen if you get too attached to any project or person.  Most people will act professional in these situations.  Being professional comes closest to what non-attached approach will look like.

Can you as a CEO stay non-attached with the most important project of their life?  The more non-attached you are, the better you will be able to approach the board and your management team.  If the project is not good and cannot stand on its own merit, it probably should not be taken up any way.

Close attachments can influence our decisions.  That is a reason behind the concept of "conflict of interest."  You ought to declare if you have conflict of interest in many situations.  This is also one reason why medical representatives now ca not associate closely with physicians now.  

Non-attachment is the default state of our existence.  We are born non-attached and will die non-attached.  None of our attachments are going to go with us at the time of death.  This one is easy to understand.  But it is hard to understand with simple things in our life.  I am a physician.  I trained in one of the premier institutions in the country.  I now am starting as an attending at a hospital.  I am happy.  I walk in that new hospital with a baggage of pre determined ideas of how I want to change the hospital.  I am not a CEO; I am an urologist.  Yet, I have great ideas.  Before long, my passion for improvement is bothering everyone else.  I cannot understand what is wrong with everyone.  You get what I am trying to say. 

I have to understand that the hospital survived well without me and will continue to survive without me in future.  This is similar to the whole world that was there before I was born and will continue even after my death.  I want to contribute to the world and to the hospital I work in.  I can contribute best if I can stay unattached.

Working without attachment is great for the soul.  You go to a meeting.  You give it your best shot.  You come home and sleep the same way as you did every other night.  The result or outcome of the meeting is acceptable to you.  It simply forms a stepping-stone for what you have to do the next day.  And, if you are not there next day for one reason or the other, the project will continue as it has always continued in the past.


Why get attached to any thing at all and if I do I know I am doing it deliberately

Last modified on Friday, 09 December 2011 02:11
Krishna Bhatta e

Krishna Bhatta e

A practicing Urologist, Dr Bhatta developed his interest in Bhagavad-Gita from a very young age. He was exposed to the teachings of Gita from his father. He has a love for our scriptures including Upanishads and Vedas.


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