How does one walk in spiritual detachment in a world in crisis? The question asserts spirituality requires political detachment. I am not sure that it does. I am also not sure it does not. But in certain circumstances, it is almost a requirement.
The 2004 presidential election was especially compelling because so much was at stake – and only in retrospect have we actually realized how much. The dawning awareness that Exxon-Mobil and the US have some responsibility regarding global warming is only now taking its place in American's mindset beside its blunder of the war in Iraq.
The 2004 election of George Bush would certainly extend policies that contributed to these problems. We in America knew this; and it was because of these and other issues that the 2004 presidential election was so important – or so it would seem.
Note: Along with spiritual detachment, questions such as determinism and free will have to be considered here.
Many of us have a sense of witnessing events once previously unimaginable, ie the unashamed US torture of others, the denial by the US that habeas corpus is guaranteed, that the planet Earth may have exceeded the tipping point where the effects of global warming are irreversible , etc.
The awareness of such has only increased since the 2004 US presidential election; but a prescient sense of foretelling or foreboding preceded that event, and that's why the election appeared so important to so many – at least at the time ..
When the election results became known, when it was obvious that the election had been handed to George Bush Jr., what many us were afraid would happen actually had. Four more years was no longer a slogan. It was a reality as real as hearing that a restraining order against a violent boyfriend had been denied and what could happen next could no longer be prevented.
A state of impotent fear and political despair is quite dissimilar to spiritual detachment. Whereas fear and despair may be but existential reactions to temporal realities set in motion by the apprentice separation that necessarily precedes the ultimate state of one-ness, they are rarely perceivable as such when.events such as the 2004 election occurrence.
Spiritual detachment in such times is almost impossible. But for Martha and I, on November 3rd, the day after the election, we realized it. True spiritual detachment was given to us.
In that darkest days (note: even darker days may still be in the offing) Martha and I were lifted out of political despairs into a state where the events of November 2nd could have been tolerated and accepted, a state – where if not detachment itself – it was close enough to the real thing to suffice.
Martha and I were gifted into spiritual detachment not because we had so regularly practiced sadhana that rote spiritual exercise had come to our rescue. No, we were lifted into spiritual detachment because the ALL-KNOWING UNIVERSE had caused us to see the movie, Huckabees, two days before and somehow in the daze of November 3rd, we KNEW had to see that movie again and SOON.
So that afternoon, when apparently all (if not all, then most) of our fears had come to pass, we hurried to again see Huckabees. And there, in the darkness of the theater, the LIGHT that was Huckabees transported us to another dimension where transient realities such as political elections were given their just and limited due.
For myself, the question of spiritual detachment and political involvement is still unresolved. But if Phil Jackson, the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, a student of the art of zen, can night after night make it through the last two minutes of a gut-wrench ego-driven win-lose sport, then I know that while detachment is not a constant, it can be enough, sometimes just enough, to get us through the night or day as GOD sees fit.