The season of detachment
And so this monthly column on spiritual development comes to October. This is one of most peoples’ favorite months. The eye is treated to the glorious spectacle of foliage changing color, the body is happy with the weather, and, if you live on the middle eastern seaboard, the oppressive heat and humidity of most summers is over with and you can begin looking forward to the holiday season and to cozy fires while it snows outside. (hopefully not as much as last winter).
From a spiritual perspective autumn is the season of detachment because we are asked, as the leaves fall, to let go also of the happiness of summer with its expansive outdoor life and for some the liberation from routine. We are also asked to let go of the beauty around us as the foliage decays on the ground and the world turns brown. It is a season for sighing.
Autumn brings with it a reminder that we are called to be detached from outcomes. We are summoned not to get too high with the highs nor too low with the lows but to remain steady through life’s ups and downs. For those of us old enough to find much of our lives in the rearview mirror, autumn is a time to notice how things turned out relative to how we planned for them to turn out. It’s a time to recall the plans, the expectations, the outcomes, and most importantly how we flowed with the outcomes. If we did not remain peaceful with disappointment or centered with success, have we learned to remain so now?
Regardless of what season of life we find ourselves in, the spiritual question is: where do I find this anchor that keeps me steady through life’s vicissitudes?
The answer is that we find it within. We find it through confidence in what our own inner authority tells us, confidence in the trustworthiness of the Universe, confidence that a benevolent Presence is guiding our lives with wisdom and the overall purpose is primarily our personal growth to wholeness more than external achievement.
We find it in humility which reflects on the grand expansiveness of the Universe and realizes the glorious yet tiny part our individual brief lives play in it.
We find it in the knowledge that our spiritual lives flow in cycles of what the mystics call consolation and desolation: cycles of feeling good about matters of spirit followed inexorably by cycles of feeling tepid and so we are invited to be patient with ourselves.
If much of this sounds odd, dispiriting, or just a lot of gibberish, it’s time to do your inner work approached in a gentle and patient spirit.
Bill O’Brien is a spiritual development practitioner and mentor. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstwon since 2005. He can be reached at email@example.com or 304-876-6071.