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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What I'm Reading Today: Matthew 28

I've been introduced to the Buddhist concept of detachment by a number of my friends over the years. The first time I heard of it, I was a bit skeptical of its merits. I couldn't understand how the notion of cutting oneself off from what I considered normal connections to people and things could be helpful. It seemed as if achieving such a goal would make a person listless – totally devoid of the joy of life that I considered essential to being a well-adjusted person.

The older I've gotten, however, the more I have been able to understand (or at least entertain an openness to) the notion of detachment.

So what has my life experience taught me over the last twenty years that has made me more receptive to the notion of letting go of my attachments to things?

Well, I've learned that sometimes the things I become (overly) attached to are sometimes the very things that detract from my enjoyment of life. Early in my relationship, for instance, I found that if I wasn't careful my love for my partner could easily take me to places of jealousy and suspicion. The sports teams (Texans, Astros, Rockets, Cougars and Dynamo) that often bring me enjoyment can also be the very things that bring me to the brink of despair when they underachieve. Even my attachment to things that I project might happen in the future can sometimes be a distraction in that they cause me to lose sight of what is happening in the here and now. Those life-learnings are why I'm more open to thinking of detachment as a good thing.

That notion of detachment is contained within today's passage from Matthew. In that passage, we are told the story of the disciples encounter with the risen Jesus. When the women first encounter Jesus, they found themselves doing what virtually every one of us probably would have done in their circumstance: trying to cling on to their beloved friend whom they thought they had lost.

And how did Jesus respond to their show of affection?

Did he encourage them to hold on tight and lose themselves in the effort of trying to maintain the comfort of what they had already known?


Jesus said to the women: "You're holding on to me for dear life! Don't be frightened like that. Go tell my brothers that they are to go to Galilee, and that I'll meet them there."

In other words, he encouraged them to literally detach from the comfort of what they had already known/experienced so they could be freed to move on to the next stage of their journey.

I think there is a lesson there for all of us. The passage invites us to examine those circumstances in our lives to which we have become overly attached. So attached, perhaps, that the things that once held great value and meaning for us is now preventing us from moving on to the next stage of development in our spiritual journey. If you find one such area in your life today, I would encourage you to open yourself to the possibility of detaching and moving on – to perhaps bigger and better experiences.

Til next time …

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