Mesmerized, having undergone a recent awakening (inspired by Michael Stone) that maintaining a strong focus on inner work does not have to suggest we detach ourselves from reality, nor should inner work be sought as a means to solely transcend reality. I was stuck on this point last year. A close friend and I spent countless hours in conversation discussing detachment for the purpose of reintegration. She actually posted a blog on Broadway World about this — you can click here to see her post and thoughtful insights into that spawned her own personal revolution.
We can’t stop at transcendence. Meditation, yoga (or other physical movement, connection to the body), spiritual connection, days or weeks spent in nature… what is the purpose of it all? To simply transcend it only separates us; to stop at transcendence is ultimately denial towards what we were born into. To live in a perfect world full of bliss cannot move us forward into growth. Yes, it is important to step away from ourselves and even from the world at times, but prolonged detachment stifles our personal and interpersonal evolution.
In the book “Into the Wild,” by John Krakauer, we see the vibrant journey of adventurer Christopher McCandless come to an end when he realizes the relationships he has neglected in his time of solitude. John Muir, a Scottish-American environmentalist, fought to preserve the connection between self and nature. Like McCandless, Muir spent much time in solitude fostering this connection to the wilderness and opening up to the spiritual self. Many spiritualists throughout history focus intently on transcendence. Yet we cannot shut out the world around us and expect to be true to ourselves. This puts relationships at risk, causes communication skills to suffer, and distorts our worldview. Our place here includes interaction with others, some of which may not share our worldview.
So when we detach, if we do so with reintegration in mind, that is — coming back with something to offer — we foster growth within ourselves as well as among others. We open ourselves to what has enlightened others. We humble ourselves to the lessons of all. So may we thrive within, so that we might thrive throughout. May we participate in the world. It is through our relationships and our shared experiences that we live fuller and more meaningful lives.