Recently students of the Himalayan Academy Master Course discussed affectionate detachment, or loving detachment. This describes God’s love to us, and the true love to which we should aspire. At first the “detachment” part may sound negative, like not really caring – but this is not what it means, it is love without any expectations, needs, or fears. Often our love comes with an expectation of things in return. Affectionate detachment is unconditional love, with no expectation or desire for anything in return.
Very few people can completely realise affectionate detachment in this life. Those on the householder or family path have duties and responsibilities that come before this. However sometimes people do exhibit something close to affectionate detachment in everyday lives. The examples of loving detachment that people came up with were the love for a small child who has a tantrum and hits his mother or father. The parent loves the child unconditionally, and because the child is small has no fear. They know that the child is doing wrong and that the behaviour needs to be corrected, but won’t act in anger. If a spouse or an older teenage or adult child did the same thing we would not be able to act with loving detachment, but God can always act this way. Another example is the love of a grandparent, who can step in and look after a child when needed with all the love of a parent, but then hand the child back to his/her mother and father. A parent would not be able to act that way because of responsibility and attachment.
As we grow in spiritual maturity so we can approach Shiva’s unconditional loving atachment. Maybe the fully enlightened can truly love their enemies.
Aum Namah Shivaya