One of the ideals in Hinduism is detachment. Detachment from the fruits of one's actions, detachment from life because it is not ultimate reality.
It's a really tricky thing to come to terms with.
On the one hand, lack of attachment saves one from pain. If we were enlightened (supposedly) we would enjoy people and objects while we had them, love them thoroughly, and also be fine when they were not with us. Things come and go, but really, as our universal Selves, everything is with us and everything is in us.
The trouble is that the idea of being detached from one's family and friends, from one's spouse and children, sounds horribly inhuman. It sounds cold and cruel.
This is a topic of frequent discussion at my study group. What does it really mean to be detached? Does it mean that we don't care? Does it mean that we don't stop bad things from happening because we should not care about the result of our action?
This is a subject that I think could take lifetimes to come to grips with.
However, I had a moment of insight the other day because I was reading a book a friend lent me about codependency. This is a psychological term that is often applied to the spouses of addicts. There is a tendency in those who love alcoholics or drug addicts to become overly involved in the addict's life, to try to fix him or her and ease their pain by taking away the addict's responsibility. There is a chapter in the book about detachment.
I was moved by a quote from a member of Al-anon, which is a sister group to AA (alcoholics anonymous) specifically for those whose lives are affected by alcoholics or other addicts. This person said, "Detachment is not detaching from the person whom we care about, but from the agony of involvement."
I think that is pretty profound and gave me a different perspective on what attachment and detachment are.
It's a concept I will still struggle with and keep refining my understanding of. I look forward to reading the rest of this book for more insight. It is called Codependent No More, it's a classic in this field.