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Article LXXX: Integrating the Path to Enlightenment with Scholastic Life

"There is the lotus leaf in the water; the water cannot touch and adhere to it; so will you be in the world. This is called 'Vairagya,' dispassion or non-attachment. I believe I have told you that without non-attachment there cannot be any kind of Yoga. Non-attachment is the basis of all the Yogas." Swami Vivekananda

Non-attachment is a central principle in Vedanta and Hinduism that can apply to all walks of life. Attachment to material existence causes one to be dependent on material wealth for happiness. Therefore, happiness becomes linked to materialism, and happiness only exists when material desires are satisfied. However, this happiness is only temporary as a result of the material objects, and it is subject to rise and fall as desires are satisfied or unfulfilled. Eternal bliss, or ananda, results from realizing the Divine within, and this bliss will never be dependent on material existence. Non- attachment dissolves the ego and allows one to realize eternal bliss within.

It is important to note that non-attachment and progress toward enlightenment are not necessarily related to the amount of one's material wealth. Swami Vivekananda further describes that, "The man who gives up living in houses, wearing fine clothes, and eating good food, and goes into the desert, may be a most attached person. His only possession, his own body, may become everything to him; and as he lives he will be simply struggling for the sake of his body. Non-attachment does not mean anything that we may do in relation to our external body, it is all in the mind. The binding link of "I and mine" is in the mind. If we have not this link with the body and with the things of the senses, we are non-attached, wherever and whatever we may be. A man may be on a throne and perfectly non-attached; another man may be in rags and still very much attached."

Non-attachment does not only apply to material existence, but it can apply to all actions in life and all interactions with others. It is especially important in the context of education. When one works without being attached to the fruits of their labor, one will be ever closer to the Divine. Work should be done with a sense of duty, or dharma, but that duty is often not entirely clear. By searching deep within, the Divine can lead one to their path of duty.

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