Moksha | मोक्ष

Moksha is the concept of emancipation, liberation, and release from the cycle of Samsara or repeated rebirth. Mukti, vimosha, and vimukti are all interchangeable words that mean emancipation, freedom, self-knowledge, and self-realization. In the Upanishads, it refers to this release with the same word used to release horses from their carriage, but each school of yoga describes a different origin of Moksha and method for achieving it.

Moksha is a word that is similar to Nirvana, but Nirvana tends to be a buddhist concept while Moksha is Hindu; Nirvana means “blown-out” or perfect stillness of the mind. However, in both religions, this is a release from the endless cycles of samsara or the infinite cycles of rebirth. Samsara is seen as a cycle of suffering, pain, injury, death, and bondage, so release from this is the ultimate goal of an individual’s life, in combination with the four other purusarthas, or objective human pursuits. There are two different schools of thought as to how Moksha is obtained: on earth (Jiva Mukti), as an ultimate destiny, or only through concrete, ethical actions in the world. Moksha is a transformation of knowledge that allows an individual to see beyond the fog of ignorance.

The state itself is described as a oneness with Brahman, or the universal god energy that fuels the universe bringing absolute peace, bliss, and a state of knowledge. One of the written ways of achieving this is through meditating on Brahman, or universal “god” at the core of the being that is liberated. In essence, Moksha is liberation into the core essence of the energy of the universe, while relinquishing the sufferings of consciousness.

Jivan muktis, or self-realized humans are said to have the following attributes in the Upanishads (keep in mind these are guidelines and in the tradition, there have been many jivan muktis):

  • not bothered by disrespect and endures cruel words, treats others with respect regardless of how others treat him;
  • when confronted by an angry person does not return anger, instead replies with soft and kind words;
  • even if tortured, speaks and trusts the truth;
  • does not crave for blessings or expect praise from others;
  • never injures or harms any life or being (ahimsa), is intent in the welfare of all beings;[87]
  • is as comfortable being alone as in the presence of others;
  • is as comfortable with a bowl, at the foot of a tree in tattered robe without help, as when in a mithuna (union of mendicants), grama (village) and nagara (city);
  • doesn’t care about or wear sikha (tuft of hair on the back of head for religious reasons), nor the holy thread across the body. To the Jivan Mukti knowledge is sikha, knowledge is the holy thread, knowledge alone is supreme. Outer appearances and rituals do not matter, only knowledge matters;
  • there is no invocation nor dismissal of deities, no mantra nor non-mantra, no prostrations nor worship of gods, goddess or ancestors, nothing other than knowledge of Self;
  • humble, high-spirited, of clear and steady mind, straightforward, compassionate, patient, indifferent, courageous, speaks firmly and with sweet words.

So you can see that there is an idea of what a Jivan Mukti is supposed to be: a teacher, a sage, a mentor, a guide on the path of Dharma.The Jivan Mukti is not only a friend for everyone, the Mukti strives for the liberation of all beings. The Mukti no longer lives for their self, but for others.



Detachment | वैराग्य


Learning detachment has been a very interesting journey. During my education I had lots of teachers who taught me the concept without knowing what exactly they were teaching me. It wasn’t until I learned meditation and yoga that I started to understand what detachment truly meant. Here is my definition: the ability to perceive the world fully, without hindrances, preconceived judgements, or expectations. It is essentially a cultivation of awareness that extends until Moksha, or liberation from Samsara.

Freedom is the ultimate goal of detachment. Freedom from suffering and pain, loss and sorrow. Freedom from the highs and lows of this existence into a pure bliss that will persist through any challenge or difficulty. This is the goal of the yogi.

I have concluded that in this life, attachment is necessary. We need things like family, friends, and siblings to support us in life, to ground us in reality and true importance. But at the same time that we draw strength and love from those around us, we must acknowledge that these people will someday expire. Their life will not last forever. This makes each moment more significant and beautiful, every detail of interaction becomes so utterly important. It is impossible to imagine living without love, without connection to family and friends; I do not believe that becoming a hermit and disconnecting with the world will create the bliss of enlightenment for anyone.

So let me clarify; attachment is necessary, but in order to truly appreciate our attachments, we must find ways to detach from them. This means we obtain the ability to truly appreciate the world around us and the people who comprise that world. Perspective, it seems, becomes the cornerstone for this appreciation. It also creates the space necessary to detach from our necessary attachments, when it becomes necessary.

Detachment from the material world, things, money, cars, planes, vacations is an required and absolute skill for the yogi. It allows for freedom within the mind from sorrow due to loss. But people even animals are much more complex. Attachment to living beings then becomes a systematic process in itself. Detachment and space become a necessary aspect of any relationship, because the individual grounds and roots in their own self, rather than those around them. With this space and freedom they are able to experience the joy of the world around them and the present moment.

I will give you an example. My favorite yoga teacher has left the studio where I work to pursue his dreams and his own prosperity. He will likely never teach at the studio again, which is sad for me because I love his teachings so much. They resonate with my soul. Being detached from this individual allows me to view the situation holistically; instead of being sad at my loss of his teaching I am happy that he is pursuing his own path of success, I am happy for the opportunity of growth that the situation will offer both of us. This is the benefit of detachment, to see opportunities in challenge, good in change, and love in everything. Perspective is everything.

I will offer that detachment is far more about perspective than hiding away in the Himalayas to wait for celestial light to drop upon your head. Leaving your culture, your family, your friends to explore the world will give you the ability to detach, as well as the perspective that comes with it. It is like a muscle that you need to flex occasionally, a skill that you hone with time and practice. Give yourself the room and it will grow 🙂

How do you detach in your own life? Do you find that it’s all about perspective or do other skills come to mind? Let me know what you think!