Hans Thoma [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Clinging to objects, people, or ideas is a fundamental cause of suffering. It is inevitable that you will lose the things of this world that you treasure. Try as you might, you won’t take wealth, status, relationships, or your body with you.
Therefore, we must let go of attachment to cultivate happiness. This drives many to hidden retreats or dedication to minimalism, and that’s not bad – there’s truth to be had in seclusion and barren rooms. But it’s only the first inner movement, because if you need that separation you’re still bound for unhappiness. Attachment to isolation is still attachment.
Attachment and separation are both confused reactions to this world. You can’t really grab or refuse anything here. You can only wish that what you perceived was a part of you or wish that it wasn’t. Either way, the perception is yours and the object “out there” is not.
Spiritual detachment is full immersion in life – embracing your perceptions while abandoning ownership. You need to accept all that arises and fully feel it if you want to cultivate happiness. While some people are helped in their ability to accept through mountain caves and hermit clothing, acceptance and detachment do not really exist until you can carry them with you into the villages.
God is in the caves, but He is also in the villages. All beings are in God, and He is in all beings. You can’t flee from God to find Him. You can’t keep yourself hidden away from others without hiding away from God. All beings are equals in the holy light – any imagining that you are superior or inferior to someone else is disregard for that divine spark in all things, and that too means hiding away from God.
Any separation you’ve strived to obtain from your brothers and sisters is the same as the separation you felt from God. Attachment to the form of things will eventually rip away your happiness, that’s true. But attachment to your separation will blind you and keep you in the darkness you created.
If your first inner movement was to pull away from things, let your second inner movement be to come back to embrace all objects and people. To disregard forms and refuse separation is to choose love and realize union – to choose the One over the many.