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Article LXXII: Paths to Remove Attachment

Attachment to temporary qualities of the world binds one to the duality of pain and pleasure, whereas detachment from the transient objects of the world can allow one to approach supreme bliss beyond that duality. Attachment causes identification with the ego, but detachment can allow one to transcend the ego and realize an unchanging, eternal bliss. Detachment can be approached through various paths, but three prominent paths described by Vedanta are devotion, knowledge, and selfless action (bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, and karma yoga).

By devoting one's actions to God, by surrendering one's actions as offerings to God, and by searching for God in others, one can transcend the ego to realize the Divine Self within all. Thus is the path of bhakti. By meditating upon the Self within, by destroying ignorance through Divine wisdom, and by absorbing the Truth of unchanging bliss, one can transcend the ego to realize the Divine Self within all. Thus is the path of jnana. By acting selflessly, by performing service to others, and by orienting action to the Divine within, one can transcend the ego to realize the Divine Self within all. Thus is the path of karma.

Bhakti, jnana, and karma represent three approaches to live detached, transcend the ego, and approach enlightenment. However, by combining different amounts of each of these three paths, there exist infinitely many valid paths for the multitude of tendencies that exist in people. Each person may have different tendencies (vasanas) depending on different impressions from past actions (samskaras) and different combinations of inert, active, and pure qualities (tamas, rajas, and sattva). Hence, there exists an appropriate path for all to detach from ephemeral pleasures, transcend the ego, and approach enlightenment. To find one's ideal path, one may search for the Divine within, using bhakti, jnana, and karma as guides.


Katha Upanishad

The context of this scripture is a dialogue between Naciketas, a spiritual aspirant, and Yama, the god of death:

III.9: The man who has intelligence for his charioteer and the mind as the (well-controlled) rein, -- he attains the end of the journey, that supreme place of Visnu (the all-pervading Atman).
III.10: The objects are superior to the senses, the mind is superior to the objects, the intellect is superior to the mind, the Great Atman is superior again to the intellect.
III.11: The Unmanifested is superior to the Great (Atman), and the Purusa is superior to the Unmanifested. Nothing is superior to the Purusa, -- that is the end, that is the supreme goal.
III.12: The Atman, hidden in all beings, reveals (itself) not (to all) but is seen only by the seers of the subtle through their pointed and subtle intellect.
III.13: The wise should merge the speech in the mind and that (mind) in the intellect, the intellect in the Great Self and that (Great Self again) in the Self of Peace.
III.14: Arise, awake, (O man)! Realize (that Atman) having approached the excellent (teachers). Like the sharp edge of a razor is that path, difficult to cross and hard to tread, -- so say the wise.

East-West Counseling & Meditation -- Modern Psychiatry Integration -- Himalayan Philosophy -- Penn & Stanford Medicine
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