Love and Detachment

I was recently asked how I can see a value for love when all the scriptures teach detachment. But love, especially romantic love, even as described in Radha and Krishna's lila, is full of intense attachment. And if attachment is desired, then what is the difference between such a sadhana and any ordinary love relationship?

The Gita teaches that we have to be detached from material objects and become attached to spiritual objects. When we are in a lower stage of development, these spiritual objects are usually "rocks", i.e., inanimate objects that have been endowed with sacred meaning. And as we develop in the preliminary stages of bhakti, we progressively project more consciousness to those objects. In other words, I am projecting onto the Holy Name or the Deities a dimension of my own consciousness that I identify with the Paramatma. Even thought the shastras take great pains to say that this is not a false or imaginary projection, i.e., the image of God in the temple, His name, etc., are all factually loci of the Divine Person. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, they are inanimate.

This exercise in transformation of our mental architecture and its projection outwards belongs to the pravartaka or beginning stage.

In a higher stage you need to be able to perceive the Paramatma in an actual conscious being. In the pravartaka stage you have some experience of that with the guru, but generally in our Western experience, guru tattva is experienced somewhat differently from within the Indian tradition. But West or East, nowadays there are few who actually have a personal relation with their guru; for most, the guru has so many disciples and is so distant, that with the exception of instructions meant for mass consumption, there is little interaction. Thus, this relationship also tends to be dominated by projection, like that of a deity or a picture. The guru gives some orders and directives about sādhanā through books and lectures, but other than that, the internal relationship is like that one has with the deities or the Holy Name. It is fundamentally an external projection of a portion of one's own unconscious which is identified with the Paramatma.

But even if one does have a close relation to the guru, it is still a relation of servant to master or protector, i.e., in the realm of dāsya/vātsalya. Which is usually ideal for someone who is a brahmachari. Sakhya relationships with ones godbrothers and sisters may also happen in the pravartaka stage. But none of these kinds of relationships is as deep as those in madhura-rasa.

The madhura-rasa partnership is very complex, much more complex than any other kind of relationship, whether you are a man or a woman. At the same time the potential for encountering the Sacred Person in profound intimacy increases exponentially. It is like the difference in volume between the Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi's treatment of the subject and that of the entire Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu devoted to the four other rasas.

Now the point is what? You have been trained in the pravartaka stage to a certain level of consciousness of the Divine through the process of projection. Which means that you don't always get direct feedback. The Deity does not talk back to most people in the way that a living person, e.g., the guru, does. Our imagination is given free rein and has no external obstacles or correctives coming from the object itself.

In any madhura relation, the feedback is usually quite intense. But since we are training ourselves to see the Divine Sacred in the other person, as a person, this means facing your projections, these more basic or dominant unconscious projections, i.e.., sexual animus/anima projections, directly.

Now in an ordinary non-sādhana sexual relationship something similar is happening to the degree of wisdom and knowledge that the two individuals have. If they are sāttvika, so much the better. If they are madhura-rasa Krishna bhaktas, uttama, and if serious sādhakas, atyuttama.

The bhakta sādhaka is cultivating attachment to God, Radha and Krishna, through the encounter with and love for a Person. I.e. God, the Divine, is seen in the direction of the Person who is the Object of Love. And with that comes a detachment from everything else.

But the rules of attachment are the same even where God and the Sacred are concerned, they result in the experience of joy and suffering, the only difference is the degree of intensity. Because mundane awareness in a flickering mind is petty and trivial, and ekanta consciousness of Love and the Divine Other is Great.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for another interesting article, Jagat-ji.

In the interests of clarification, I was hoping you might provide more detail on the process of projecting one's consciousness onto sacred objects (and people, for that matter) and seeing Paramatma within them.


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