Detachment vs Non-attachment: Eastern Wisdom for Inner Peace


In Eastern philosophy, particularly in Buddhism, there’s a powerful concept called Nekkhamma.

This Pali word is usually translated in English as “renunciation,” in relation to desires. When people talk about Nekkhamma, they usually talk about giving up desires so you can live free from that type of pull. 

It’s an extremely subtle concept that you can interpret in many ways. To me, it’s all about non-attachment—not to be confused with detachment. I learned about this distinction from the writer and teacher, Joseph Goldstein, who is one of the first Mindfulness meditation teachers in the US.

He has a series of lectures on the Waking Up app, based on his meditation retreats. In a lesson called “Wisdom of Impermanence,” he talks about non-attachment, and why you want to aim for that over detachment. 

The way Goldstein describes it, non-attachment is about not holding on to anything that happens in life, whether those are experiences, events, or thoughts. That’s the difference with detachment, which means you pull away from something. Applying this concept in your life will have a huge difference in the way you live.

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