Detachment: Yes Jesus Taught it Too

by Joshua Tilghman on July 16, 2013

Detachment is FreedomIt’s a shame how many religious leaders still don’t understand the reason ancient religious texts like the Bible were written; it certainly wasn’t to establish a religion! But that’s what happened. And now every Sunday millions of people go to a church and sing songs. Then they sit and listen to the pastor as he opens his Bible and elucidates his thoughts on individual verses. Why? For salvation. At least that’s the consensus. But let me ask you a question. Have you ever wondered what we truly need salvation from?

Most Christians would answer that we need salvation from sin, death, and hell. While this sounds good, I still don’t think most Christians really understand what that means, at least not according to the Biblical text and Jesus’ teaching.

Although the Bible uses terms like sin, death, and hell quite frequently, they didn’t carry the same connotation that they do today. It would be much more accurate to state that we need salvation from ourselves, because we carry sin, death, and hell within our individual personalities, or the ego. The ego is the root of our problem. The ego is the ultimate illusion that separates us from God.

When I first got into esoteric material, I read a lot about the ego ultimately being an illusion, but I still couldn’t understand why. But after reading more of Christ’s words, the meaning eventually became clearer after understanding the ego’s propensity towards attachments to external realities.

The Curse of Attachment

One of the biggest flaws of the individual ego is attachment. The reason is quite simple. Our lives here on this earth are brief. Even within that brief amount of time, there is tremendous change happening on a daily basis. Nothing about our lives is permanent. Everything is in a constant state of change. This is the natural order of God. But as individuals we are constantly resisting this truth. Why? Because our minds attach to things. We want this, or we want that. And for a time we may get these things, but from the very moment we get them it is only a matter of time before we lose them. And for most of us, this loss brings suffering. Sometimes it brings tremendous suffering! This is attachment at work. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a material object that we’re attached to or whether it is an idea about ourselves or someone else that we are attached to. All material objects and even ideas that we have about ourselves and others must end up changing, either during our lives or at death.

As you can see attachment is an illusion of the mind. Whenever we hold onto something, including the idea of who we think we are, we are caught up in this illusion that is but a fleeting experience in eternity. And it’s all in the mind! That’s why Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, which means “place of the skull.” We must crucify the illusions of the mind (in our skulls) in order to be resurrected to the truth of Christ.

Since we cannot hold onto anything in this world, the only choice we have is to allow that change. When I say allow, I don’t mean to let it happen, because change is going to happen whether we want it to or not. When I say allow I mean to accept. Acceptance is the first step to non-attachment. But we humans have a hard time getting into the natural flow and order of the universe, or God.

The Blessing of Detachment

Jesus taught detachment. We can take that one step further and say that Jesus taught detachment as being synonymous with eternal life and salvation. In fact, it’s hardly different than what Buddha taught. Christians who deny this are only fooling themselves. To see this truth for yourself, consider Jesus’ conversation with a man that asked Jesus how to earn eternal life. Forget what you may have learned in church and consider this conversation with your heart. It went like this:

“…Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

“And Jesus said unto him, why callest thou me good. None is good, save one, that is God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy mother and thy father.”

“And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.”

“Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet thou lackest one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me.”

“And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.”

Why do you think Jesus began by telling the man that none was good (not even Jesus himself) except God? This reply has stumped many a Christian because they are still stuck in an old-world religious mentality: the personage of Christ instead of what Christ represents. Notice that with this reply Jesus eliminates the focus on himself as an individual and gets the man to focus on the goodness of God (the natural order and law of the universe). The natural order and law of the universe is the opposite of individual attachment.

Next Jesus tells the man to obey the commandments. Obeying the commandments begins the process of curbing attachment because it forces man not to give in to his animal desires, but it can never eliminate attachment. Following the commandments is like walking down a hallway which leads to the door of eternal life, but it is only the hallway. We still need a door. That door is following Jesus. By as we just learned, following Jesus is not just obeying the commandments. Even in obeying all the commandments we can still lack “one thing:” true detachment.

When you realize the illusion that attachment to this world brings and experience the timeless truth (Christ) that is within you, you are in acceptance of all that God is. And then you may learn to live as Jesus prayed for us to live:

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”

Nothing about our lives is permanent. Some day we will all die, and every second there is change. Attachment leads to suffering because attachment is an illusion of the mind. It is resistance against the truth (Christ), because it cannot be, and that which cannot be is the illusion. The truth is not the ever changing landscape (external reality), but it is the eternal Christ within you that is responsible for generating that ever-changing reality. That is what you must follow. That is what you must realize.

The battle is truly within the mind. When we become attached to something that we can’t permanently have, it brings the mind suffering. So remember that whoever you have become, whether it be John, Jane, or Mary, or whatever you desire or have accumulated, it is only part of the illusion. Enjoy it, but don’t become attached to it. The Christ that is within you is the truth, and by realizing that you may begin to experience eternal life and true salvation from yourself!

Blessings!

KT July 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I like your statement “This reply has stumped many a Christian because they are still stuck in an old-world religious mentality: the personage of Christ instead of what Christ represents”

This reminds me of what Jesus said I am the way, truth……Many Christians think Jesus more of an idol and try to worship him like other religions, nothing wrong with that, but the message is HIS WAY, what he represented, he wants us to be like him..

May be I am wrong!

Joshua Tilghman July 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

KT,

I think you make a good point. Jesus the man would not have wanted to be worshiped.

KT July 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm

This is a good article and it is good you have done real thinking. We all struggle with what Jesus says and doing his will practically. Each one of has wants and desires much more than what he/she needs. I guess that is Human.

The word detachment is very much in Eastern philosophy and the illusion you mention it is described as Maya.

Thank you for thoughts.

In His name

KT

TJ July 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm

What you describe as “accepting” and “detachment” sound a lot like the Tao Te Ching philosophy of “The Way.” The more I learn religions, the more they all seem to overlap. How much have you studied that?

Joshua Tilghman July 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm

TJ,

So true! Glad to see others noticing this. I have studied the philosophy of “The Way” and there are many similarities.

Laurie July 17, 2013 at 8:03 am

Well, Joshua…you’ve been peeking in my Windows again! lol

This is what I’ve been learning lately and peeking behind the veil at.

What you posted is so true!!!!!

Joshua Tilghman July 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Laurie,

It’s nice to know that others are in similar places with their spiritual journey!

Robert July 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Excellent article which expands our understanding of Jesus sayings to a higher level. It is absolutely true that “no one is good but God” is a stumper and this article’s explanation makes more sense than any I’ve heard. It is wonderful when something one has always wondered about finally becomes clear.

KT July 21, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Hello Joshua. I love your thinking.

I am re reading what u wrote. I still struggle like the man in this story. I am not sure any one is free from any attachment. It is a hard thing TO LET IT GO. But it is easy for me to preach but my mind always looks into WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME ?

Are u open to eastern scriptures? ( I am not talking about polytheism, idols rituals etc). Illusion is called Maya and the famous Bhagwad Gita talks about detachment. Most Hindus think it is something only Gurus Babas Saits or Hermits Budda etc can be detached. The detachment in Gita is about the fruits of the work but it insists on the very action itself, we cannot walk away from the work in a detached sense. When Paul says salvation is by Grace not works, a Christian may think he does not have to work! Just ” believe” in Christ reciting the 4 spiritual laws. What about the great work Christians have done over the years all over the world.? For me Gita helps me to understand here. One needs to be DETACHED from the result or the fruit of action, in other words work is done unconditionally. Which is THE message of love in Bible.
Thank you for reading my bla bla bla

Robert July 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I like learning about Hindu. I just have a splattering of it. The solution of the dilemma of the protagonist in the Bagavad Gita is still perplexing to me…. Krishna persuades him to take his place in the dutiful scheme of things and lead the military charge against the army from an opposing village, many of whom are his friends, even spiritual teachers, and for which cause he was having second thoughts about what is right. Krishna begins by exhorting him to lead the spiritual life that is supposed to free him from his reluctance to do his duty, a reluctance arising from an attachment to the welfare of his friends in the opposing army. This does not sit well with me. Yet something similar is expressed in Jesus’ exhortation to love and obey him and not to put friends and family members as a higher priority.

KT July 22, 2013 at 12:43 am

Robert

I think I gave you a wrong address, the correct one is lovendures50@yahoo.com

Thank you

KT July 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Dear Robert

I understand your dilemma. Most Hindus I talked to do not get it ( not that I get it completely)
With due respect to Joshua this thread may not be appropriate to discuss this subject. I will be happy to share my understanding through email lovendures50@gmail.com . If it is Ok with Joshua then we may discuss openly on a different thread.
The best part of following Jesus is the amazing grace that has challenged my personal life.

Blessings

Albert July 31, 2013 at 6:41 am

Informative, well written article. Indeed the Bible was written for the salvation of humans and not for rigid institutional rules. In my opinion the idea attachment is probably one of the things for us to learn on earth. In the younger years possessions seem important. As we age we should start to see the value of relationships (not just amorous) with people. Unfortunately, as humans we tend to be slow to learn. This post gives some good food for thought. Keep up spreading the message and thanks.

Joshua Tilghman July 31, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Albert,

The Bible is all about the mind, and attachment is in the mind. Jesus taught us so much about the mind, the but the language can be quite confusing, especially in translations.

Bianca August 5, 2015 at 9:05 am

Thanks for this article. I stand to reason and have started my detachment phase. It is difficult but so worth the reward. God is everything and we should worship him in spirit and truth while giving up worldly things.

Joshua Tilghman August 5, 2015 at 9:57 am

Thanks, Bianca.

Chrysler November 16, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Well written article and extremely informative.! I will add though, that The Bible is more than a book about the mind, etc. It is a book about the way of life and the expression of the Person of God manifested through Jesus Christ.

I do, however, agree with the importance of detachment. Not just as a philosophy, but a moment by moment practice throughout ones life. I started reading texts on meditation and thoughts about liberation from suffering when I was in jail. I can honestly say that it brought me closer to God and who He is in me.

The only thing I want to leave you with is to remember that it is about having a relationship with Jesus. Talk to Him, worship him, cry with him, listen to what He tells you, instructs you, etc.

I say this because, though I agree with your post and heavily believe in Detachment (since I am a meditator myself) and agree that we must let go of mental attachments to truly be effective as human beings and Christians, your post has a biased tone towards christians and the simplicity of the Gospel.

Like I said, I agree with you, just don’t forget the other words Jesus spoke such as serving, not living for ourselves, loving Him and others, putting His will first , remaining firm in the Word, etc.

Stay Postive and keep posting.! God bless you.

Jp December 26, 2016 at 3:32 pm

The bible says jesus is God though..

Joshua Tilghman March 1, 2017 at 9:36 pm

But the Bible also states that Jesus can identify with us through our experiences. But wouldn’t the traditional idea of God make him far removed? Certainly we don’t have angels to call upon at any time, unless we really do through a deeper spiritual understanding. Correct?

F.J February 16, 2017 at 2:05 am

I am not going to quote the Bible since you seem to have read a lot of it…seemingly in an awkward manner. Jesus told Peter that on him he shall build his Church, Ekklesia. The building of such requires a religious life of a sort for his followers, for common pursuit. John saw Jesus and called him the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, because sin brings death and salvation makes sin or the ego not to condemn one to eternal suffering. The Bible was written within a religious context, why would it not be for religion?

Joshua Tilghman February 24, 2017 at 8:03 pm

F.J., I do not disagree about having a religious life as you say. But what does that entail? That is where the true meat lies. Can you explain further? Thanks.

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