Detachment in Family Life

Talk given by Swami Amritananda Saraswati at Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, during the Teacher Training Course of May 1982

In yoga, when we talk about developing detachment, we do not mean that you must show your detachment to your family or express it in your attitude towards society. Your detachment must be internal, there is no need to show it externally. You don't have to tell your family that you are detached from them, or that you no longer care for them and they should not come near you. Just keep your detachment to yourself. You may have to check your behaviour and your speech, as nobody should be able to sense that you feel detached from anybody. Rather, everybody should think that you are totally absorbed in grihastha life. Let them believe that you are a great ragi or bhogi, while in fact you have vairagya.

Your feelings should not indicate your vairagya and your words should not express the detachment you have inside, for the people of the world need to know how sweetly you can talk and how kind and caring you can be. There is no use being honest with the worldly people. Please don't misunderstand me and think that I am telling you to be dishonest, but in truth, you can really only be honest with God. Human beings are very ignorant, their sight is limited and they cannot see your heart.

No matter how much love and compassion you may have for a person, if you speak to him or her in an unpleasant or harsh tone, that person will take an instant disliking to you. Or supposing you want to point out a fault in another person and you do it not to criticise, but for his own benefit. Even if you use the sweetest voice and what you say is the truth, that person will not like it, because no matter which tone you express it in, truth is always bitter. Those people who are weak and those who lack wisdom can never bear to hear the truth. Therefore, there is no need to tell them the truth. Even if you have great animosity for a person, you can speak to him sweetly and he will be pleased.

Therefore, honesty is not needed in worldly life and with the worldly people. Just as you can win the person you feel the most hatred for by speaking to him nicely, likewise, even though you have vairagya or virakti, you can show compassion or oneness to your relatives. You don't have to have it, but for their welfare and benefit it is better if they think you have it.

If you are a husband, you must take care of your wife in the expected manner. If you have a husband, you must behave with him in the accustomed way. If you are a father, you give all the love and attention your children require from you. If you are a mother, you supply your children with the food and affection they crave from you. And if you are a boss or a servant, behave pleasantly with your superiors or inferiors. That need not be honestly or sincerely from the heart. Preserve your honesty and sincerity only for the one whom you cannot please or win through any empirical behaviour or words. Worldly people can be won and pleased by words of knowledge and by gross physical behaviour, but the divine or beloved one cannot be pleased by the things of this world.

Therefore, you must establish perfect balance between internal vairagya and household raga, because everybody wants you to be concerned about them. People desire and expect that you remember them.

Nobody says 'Don't remember me.' Although your friends and relatives may say 'Don't worry about me', in actual fact, they want you to worry about them. With their mouths they say 'Don't worry about me', but with their hearts they say 'Please do.' So you must have detachment from inside and express attachment from outside.

The people of the world want only that you behave in the expected manner. They are not worried about your sincerity. They are blinded by maya and they cannot see the sincerity anyway. Therefore, preserve your honesty and sincerity. Do not waste them, they are inborn qualities which are reserved for God.