An Attachment to Detachment

One of the most profound insights I have gained from Sensei Johnston, came at the most inopportune time. It was after a particularly frustrating and tough class for me.  I had been struggling with the inequities of life, especially as it pertained to my impending divorce, and Sensei could see it in the forced nature of my karate practice.

In typical fashion, without fanfare or any pretentious gravitas, and forever stripped of all future romantic notions of zen teachings in the midst of nature, Sensei accompanied me to the “loo” where he disappeared behind the stall.

As the changing area cleared out, and I was the only one left, dragging my heels to the more domestic frustrations and fears at home, he cleared his throat, and said….”Hessam, you need to be a little more detached from it. It will help you, greatly.”

I wish I could say a beam of light was emanating from the occupied stall, but I simply looked over to the bland, stall door and thanked Sensei as I walked out to what was to become an unintended, slow seeping, life changing process.

To be fair, Sensei had been training us to be detached whilst in class. During “Mokuso”, when facing our opponents in kumite, and even while performing kata. Sensei’s idea of focus was that it ebbed and flowed. At times it needed to be laser sharp, followed by periods of retracted, generalized focus. With meditation it was the same. He would say to observe the inputs, be aware of them but don’t try to control them and don’t be attached to any one of them.

This idea of being almost “outside the self”, observing  realities from a different/neutral vantage point, without a need to control, did indeed help me greatly, as Sensei predicted. And it has helped tremendously in many other stressful and emotional situations since. I am forever grateful for Sensei’s words of wisdom, even from beyond the “loo”…I just wish he were still here to answer my new conundrum…

How to deal with detachment, when detachment becomes the attachment!


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