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“A Burning Passion and Absolute Detachment”


December 29, 2020

Stephanie Van Hook

“A burning passion coupled with absolute detachment is the key to all success.”

– Gandhi (Harijan, 9-29-1946, p. 336)

When Gandhi uses the term “detachment” he does not mean a passive disinterest or cold indifference; he is pointing to an active state of conscious awareness of the unity of life.

We glimpse that unity when we work to weed out private, selfish attachment and the tiresome obsession about the results of our actions; in other words, we are detached from ourselves. When we think, How does this benefit me? we are not detached. When we think, How does this benefit others? we do have some measure of detachment from ourselves, and our ability to use nonviolence more effectively comes into its own.

When we couple that sense of selfless detachment with a burning passion, the apparent paradox becomes a brilliant power. But even that, he says, is only a “key.”

At a deeper level, something else is at work: the light we shine reveals a different image of the human being– our capacity for empathy, joyful determination, and selflessness.

Young people in particular are searching for such a vision and respond to it very strongly with the transformation of themselves to embody that image.

With a good sense of detachment, we can see that take place– and what it says about the nature of the human spirit. This is the height of success.

Experiment in Nonviolence:

Think of a person with a burning, selfless passion. What is the image of the human being that they are reflecting to you?

Daily Metta 2015, a service of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, is a daily reflection on the strategic and spiritual insights of Mahatma Gandhi in thought, word and deed. As Gandhi called his life an “experiment in truth,” we have included an experiment in nonviolence to accompany each Daily Metta. Check in every day for new inspiration. Each year will be dedicated to another wisdom teacher.

Originally published by The Metta Center for Nonviolence

The Author

Stephanie Van Hook is Executive Director of the Metta Center for Nonviolence.

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