On detachment and the middle path

Permit me some introspection and self-indulgence.

Detachment . . .

I’ve known people who are totally detached from the daily news. They don’t watch TV news or read newspapers. They are tuned out, and perhaps better off for it.

It has never been an option for me, being in the news business. I have to know what’s going on in the world. I have to read about the horrendous, cowardly crimes committed by groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and ISIL in  Iraq — who both, incidentally, claim to believe in an all-seeing and all-knowing God, but  have no problem committing acts of murder and rape while God watches them. But I digress. This post is not about psychopathic criminal detachment.

People in the news business do have to have a certain detachment from the reports they work on, both for objectivity and for self-preservation. And we do get jaded after awhile. But I first learned about detachment — and walking the middle path — when I studied Buddhism in my early 20s. The idea was to be neither happy nor sad, and to be unruffled by the affairs of the world. After all, life as we know it is temporary. Or, in Islam, as the Prophet Mohammed is quoted as saying (see Wikipedia): “What have I to do with worldly things? My connection with the world is like that of a traveler resting for a while underneath the shade of a tree and then moving on.”

It all fit in with my transcendental belief system, that life is temporary and illusionary, and that we are spiritually immortal beings cloaked in flesh who come and go in the various playgrounds of the universe. Indeed, life is a game if the world is a stage and we have multiple roles. Death, where is thy sting?

Around the same time, in the 1970s, a television series called Kung Fu was to have a great influence on my life, to this very day, in fact. I identified with the Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine, who left the Shaolin temple and found himself wandering the Old West facing various trials and tribulations, all the while walking the middle path and remaining unruffled by worldly things. I saw his life as a metaphor for life in general — we leave the spiritual abode, tarry for a while in the material world, then return to the temple for a time . . . before setting out again.

Indeed, that was my life. I was, and am, the spiritual traveller, just as everyone is . . . travellers of both time and space, as Robert Plant sings in Kashmir. And I still believe it now. Jillian, the Shaolin priestess, without the kung fu moves . . . smiles . . .

I managed for many years to be detached, mostly, from the sorrows of world. And I would be fibbing if I said a certain green herb and its derivative didn’t help to keep me detached at times.

But about 10 years ago the Shaolin priestess decided it was time to step off the middle path and experience the world, to let myself be ruffled by worldly things, to let myself cry for those who hurt, and to cry out for them . . . And, to make this long story shorter, that is what I have been doing, and what you have been reading about here and in my other blog at times.

Lately, though, I am a little overwhelmed by it all, by all the suffering in the world, and especially by the hopelessness and futility. I remember the wisdom of the middle path, and of how things are unfolding in this world not so much as they should, but according to the karma of each and all. Karma is unfailing  . . . and objective . . . and detached.

I was going to write about my tears now, but as quickly as they welled up, they subsided. Indeed, the middle path is in sight again . . .

Smiles . . .

Good night, dear readers.

— Jillian



5 thoughts on “On detachment and the middle path

    1. Kwai Chang left the temple when he was able to snatch the pebble from the master’s hand. In other words, there was no more for him to learn there. So, his last act there was to hold the steaming cauldron and brand his arms with the mark of the Shaolin. Later, in his journeys, he encountered the blind master from the temple, who was roughed up by the emperor’s nephew and his men. Kwai, in a moment not unlike the symbolic downfall in the Garden of Eden, angrily threw a spear in the direction of the emperor, and killed him. Hence, Kwai had to leave China (i.e. the Garden), and he set out on a journey in the Old West looking for his relatives (Kwai was half American). His journey symbolized our journeys . . . I love that old show. I have several episodes on videotape, as well as the movie premiere and some later movie follow-ups.


  1. Jillian, just be true to yourself! That’s my pearl of wisdom for the day…

    And in the immortal words of the late great William Shakespeare.. “To thine own self be true.”


  2. Jillian, I remember it just as you describe it…a wonderful TV series and right up there with Shogun. As to the geopolitical situation today the theme song would be SRV’s “The sky is crying”. I wish you a carefree, bug free and clothes free summer of indulgence!


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