How can we spiritualize our material attachments?

by Chaitanya Charan dasFebruary 13, 2017

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Transcribed (and edited) byNayanasundari Devi Dasi

QuestionWhatever material attachments we have, how do we sublimate them to love for God?

Answer (short)

  • There are attachments and detachments. Bhakti is beyond both. Bhakti is about commitment.
  • The first stage in spiritualizing an attachment or a relationship is we don’t let that attachment or relation blind us to the bigger picture.
  • Second, we perceive that relation in the light of the bigger picture.
  • Third, that person with whom we are in a relationship or attachment sees how we have improved by our spiritual practices and he also takes to spirituality.

Answer (long)

There are attachments and detachments. bhakti is beyond both. bhakti is about commitment. We want to develop a relation with Krishna. That requires committed practice of bhakti. When we talk about material attachments, we are not meant to become hard hearted; we are not meant to be unfeeling in the name of not being attached. There is a complete picture that has to be seen in any relationship. The classic example of attachment is Dhritarashtra & Duryodhana.

When we consider villains, there are active villains and passive villains. Dhuryodhana was the active villain. He was doing all the bad things. Dhritarashtra was the consenting villain. He just allowed him to do it. Dhritarashtra actually was an intelligent person. He could understand things but his attachment blinded him. What happened to him was that he could see only his relationship with Duryodhana and because of the attachment, he couldn’t tolerate Duryodhana’s displeasure. If Duryodhana felt displeased, he couldn’t take it. For him, “Whatever it takes to please you, I will do that”. Even if it meant becoming immoral, brutal, etc., he did that. So in Dhritarashtra’s case, one relationship blinded him to the bigger picture.

Attachment is bad when one relationship blinds us to the bigger picture i.e. the bigger picture of our relationship with God or of our life’s higher priorities, life’s ethics. Otherwise, relationships itself are not bad. When we give due time to understand the bigger picture of life, the ultimate purpose of life, and pursue that purpose through our practices, we don’t have to minimize or reject all our relationships as material. Even if there is attachment in the relationship, one shouldn’t let that attachment restrict one in his spiritual growth. Such material attachment can be harmonized with our bhakti. Ultimately whoever we are attached to, that person is also a part of God. We may become that person’s link with God. The important thing is to not let one relation blind us to the bigger picture.

As long as we keep the bigger picture in perspective and act in a relationship not just as per the needs of that relationship alone, but we don’t let everything be restricted to that one relationship. Such relationship may not be considered bad or attachment, something which we have to give up. Rather we can see such relationship as an opportunity for service to Krishna.

We focus on developing our relationship with Krishna, act in life according to the big picture, and based on how the other person reciprocates, we may have to choose a practical way by which we maintain that relationship and not let that relationship interfere with our spiritual growth. Ideally speaking if we, through our practice of bhakti become better human beings, and the other person notices that change, then that person may also feel motivated to become spiritual. In this way the material relationship can become more and more spiritual.

To summarize, the first stage in spiritualizing a relationship is that we don’t let that relationship blind us to the bigger picture. Second, we perceive that relationship in the light of the big picture. Third is that the other person sees how we have improved by our spiritual practices and he also feel motivated to become spiritual.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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