Detachment, Impersonality and Indifference

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Summary: A collection of statements by the Tibetan.


     "The worker in white magic must hold himself free as much as he can from identifying himself with that which he has created or has attempted to create. The secret for all aspirants is to cultivate the attitude of the onlooker and of the silent watcher, and, may I emphasise the word silent. Much true magical work comes to naught because of the failure of the worker and builder in matter to keep silent. By premature speech and too much talk, he slays that which he has attempted to create, the child of his thought is still-born. All workers in the field of the world should recognise the need for silent detachment, and the work before every student who reads these Instructions must consist in cultivating a detached attitude. It is a mental detachment which enables the thinker to dwell ever in the high and secret place, and from that centre of peace calmly and powerfully to carry out the work he has set before himself. He works in the world of men; he loves and comforts and serves; he pays no attention to his personality likes and dislikes, or to his prejudices and attachments; he stands as a rock of strength, and as a strong hand in the dark to all whom he contacts. The cultivation of a detached attitude personally, with the attached attitude spiritually, will cut at the very roots of a man's life; but it will render back a thousandfold for all that it cuts away.
     Much has been written anent attachment and the need to develop detachment. May I beg all students in the urgency of the present situation, to leave off reading and thinking about it aspirationally, and to begin to practise it and to demonstrate it." (A Treatise on White Magic, p. 559/60)

     "It is only in a spirit of real detachment that the best work of the disciple is done. The disciple comes to realise that because of this detachment he is (for the remainder of his life) simply a worker -- one of a great army of hierarchal workers -- with supposedly no personality inclinations, objectives, or wishes. There is for him nothing but constant work and constant association with other people. He may be a naturally isolated person, with a deep craving for solitude, but that matters not. It is the penalty he must pay for the opportunity to meet the need of the hour." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. I, p. 55)

     "Physical fatigue need not necessarily impair in any way his usefulness. With many people, physical conditions impair their work, for their attention becomes focussed on the undesirable physical situation; disciples, however, often have a curious capacity to continue with their work, no matter what may be happening to them physically. The physical brain can be so much the reflector of the mental life, that he will remain essentially unaffected by any outer conditions. The disciple learns to live with his physical liabilities under adverse conditions, and his work maintains its usual high level.
     The emotional problem may be the hardest. But only the disciple can handle his own self-pity and free himself from the inner emotional storm in which he finds himself living." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. I, p. 56)

     "It leads him to assume the position that not one single thing which produces any reaction of pain or distress in the emotional body, matters in the least. These reactions are simply recognised, lived through, tolerated, and not permitted to produce any limitation. All disciples would do well to ponder what I have just said." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. I, p. 57)

     " 'Lord of my life, how can I do the duty of this day yet seek detachment? Meet every need yet free myself from ties and bonds?' God said: 'The sun draws near and vivifies the earth. Naught can it take from out the earth. Live likewise. Give and ask naught!' " (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. I, p. 392)

     "Detachment is the path of least resistance for a first ray nature." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. II, p. 523)


     "Impersonality, particlarly for high grade integrated people, is peculiarly difficult to achieve. There is a close relationship between impersonality and detachment. Many cherished ideas, many hard won qualities, many carefully nurtured righteousnesses and many powerfully formulated beliefs, militate against impersonality. It is hard for the disciple - during the process of his early training - to hold earnestly to his own ideals and to pursue forcefully his own spiritual integration, and yet remain impersonally oriented towards other people. He seeks recognition of his struggle and achievement; he longs to have the light which he has kindled draw forth a reaction from others; he wants to be known as a disciple; he aches to show his power and his highly developed love nature, so that he may evoke admiration, or at least, challenge. But nothing happens. He is looked upon as no better than all the rest of his brothers. Life, therefore, proves dissatisfying.
     These truths of self-analysis are seldom definitely faced or formulated by you and, therefore, (because I seek to help you) I formulate them for you and face you with them. It is hard for intelligent men and women to see others closely associated with them, dealing with life and problems from a totally different angle to their own -- handling them in a weak or stupid way (from the angle of the disciple) and making apparently serious errors in judgement or technique. Yet, brother of old, why are you so sure that you are right and that your point of view is necessarily correct? It may be that your slant on life, and your interpretation of a situation needs readjustment, and that your motives and attitudes could be more elevated or purer. And even if they are -- for you -- the highest and the best that you can achieve at any given time, then pursue your way and leave your brother to pursue his . . .
     This attitude of non-interference and the refusal to criticise, in no way prevents service to each other or constructive group relations. . . . Perhaps you can see clearly what is the group weakness, and who it is that is keeping the group back from finer activity. That is well and good, provided that you continue to love and serve and to refrain from criticism. It is a wrong attitude to seek assiduously to straighten out your brother, to chide him or seek to impose your will on him or your point of view, though it is always legitimate to express ideas and make suggestion. . . . Continue with your own soul discipline, and leave your brothers to continue theirs." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. l, p.48/9)

     "The door closes behind the initiate, who is now an accepted member of his group, and as the Old Commentary puts it "its sound in closing informs the watching world that the initiate has passed into a secret place, and that to reach him in the real sense they too must pass that door." This conveys the thought of individual self-initiation, to which all must be subjected, and indicates also the loneliness of the initiate as he moves forward. He does not yet understand all that his group as a whole grasps; he is himself not understood by those on the other side of the door. He has sensed for some time the group with which he is now affiliated, and is becoming increasingly aware of their spiritual impersonality, which seems to him to be almost a form of aloofness, and which in no way feeds in him those elements which are of a personality nature; he therefore suffers. Those left behind as a part of his old life, in no way comprehend his basic (even if undeveloped impersonality). This attitude of their invokes in him, when sensed, a resentment and a criticism which he realises is not right, but which at this stage he seems unable to avoid, whilst those he criticises endeavour to tear him down, or (at the least) to make him feel despised and uncomfortable.
     In the early stages he takes refuge from those left behind, by withdrawing himself, and by much unnecessary and almost obtrusive silence. He learns to penetrate into the consciousness of his new group, by strenuously endeavoring to develop their capacity for spiritual impersonality. He knows it is something which he must achieve and -- as he achieves it -- discovers that this impersonality is not based on indifference or upon preoccupation, as he had thought, but upon a deep understanding, upon a dynamic focus on world service, upon a sense of proportion, and upon a detachment which makes true help possible. Thus the door and the past are left behind. St. Paul attempted to express this idea when he said: 'Forgetting the things which are behind, press forward towards the prize of your high calling in Christ'. I would ask your attention to the word 'calling'." (The Rays and the Initiations, p.72/3)

     "You might here ask me if there is one single mode or means whereby a disciple can begin to approximate this seemingly impossible goal. I would reply: By the steady practice of impersonality, with its subsidiary attitude of indifference where personal desires, contacts, and goals are concerned. Such an impersonality is little understood, and even when cultivated by well-intentioned aspirants, has a selfish basis. Ponder on this, and endeavour to achieve impersonality through self-forgetfulness and through the decentralisation of the focus of consciousness from the personality (where it is usually centered) into the living, loving soul." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. l, p. 82)

     "The Master looks for an effort on the part of the disciple to be impersonal in his dealings, both with Him and with his co-disciples; impersonality is the first step upon the road to spiritual love and understanding. The effort of most sincere disciples is usually concentrated upon loving each other, and in this (to use an old simile) they put the 'cart before the horse'. Their effort should be to achieve, first of all, impersonality in their dealings, for, when that has been achieved, criticism dies out and love can pour in." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. l, p. 737)


     "What is indiffence? . . . It means in reality the achieving of a neutral attitude towards that which is regarded as the Not-Self; it involves a repudiation of similarity; it marks the recognition of a basic distinction; it signifies refusal to be indentified with anything save the spiritual reality, as far as that is sensed and known at any given point in time and space. It is, therefore, a much stronger and vital thing that what is usually meant when the word is used. It is active repudiation without any concentration upon that which is repudiated." (Glamour: A World Problem, p. 262)

     "Those who are in preparation for initiation must learn to work consciously with glamour; they must work effectively with the presented truth, ignoring any pain or suffering or mental questioning which is incident to personality rebellion and limitation; they must cultivate that "divine indifference" to personal considerations which is the outstanding hallmark of the trained initiate." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. l, p.27)

     "If I were asked to specify the outstanding fault of the majority of groups of disciples at this time, I would say that it is the expression of the wrong kind of indifference, leading to an almost immovable pre-occupation with their personal ideas and undertakings." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. l, p. 82)

     "Your problem is not to get rid of difficulties, but simply to be indifferent as to whether they exist or not." (Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. l, p. 659)

     "Learn that divine indifference which you need -- indifference to yourself and to your personality interests, likes and dislikes, indifference to your cares, anxieties and successes." (Discipleship in the New Age. Vol. l, p. 661)