According to Buddhism, attachment and expectations causes suffering. Even in the Vedas, it is written that maintaining relationships without expectations avoids pain. So what does it actually mean when spiritual texts preach humans to not expect and be detached? I feel there exists a lot of misinterpretation in this context. Some people might use this against another to avoid accountability for their toxic behavior or not take responsibility for the hurting caused by them - in the name that good behavior should never have been expected in the first place.

Should one not expect a good life for themselves or have dreams and goals to work for? Human beings naturally have a tendency to get attached, should they not be caring or considerate towards other souls? Should one not expect to be loved right by their partners or parents? Because having no expectations might be twisted into saying that abuse or cheating or mistreatment is acceptable. Naturally, people expect others to be respectful and kind towards them. So where to draw this line? What does those spiritual texts actually advise?

P. S- Feel free to share links or suggest reading materials related to this topic.

  • Buddhism per se is different than Hinduism. It's core is probably from basic core of Hinduism. Question may be refocussed as Does Hinduism allow toxic behaviour on the basis of detachment? Then someone may quote from Hindu scripture.
    – ajitdas
    Sep 26, 2023 at 4:45
  • You should have good expectation and healthy desires if you are aiming for swarga. But if you want moksha (liberation), then don't have expectations but only duties.
    – user31421
    Oct 25, 2023 at 12:27

2 Answers 2


Non-attachment or deteachment are fundamental concept in all Indo-religions - including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. It is the philosophical difference between these philosophies and their philosophical definitions that differentiate them. Apart from the philosophies, definitions, and approaches, the goal is similar in all of them. Here are some fundamental differences between them.

Non-Attachment in Hinduism

The goal of non-attachment in Hinduism is to perform one's work without getting attached to the result of the work. In Hinduism, there are two fundamental ways to do that - Karm Yog or Gyan Yog. In Karm Yog, the people are supposed to sacrifice the outcome of their deeds (whatever it may be) to the higher powers (often Ishwara - Krishna, Shiva, Vishnu), whereas in Gyan Yog the knowledge of two - oneself and Brahman (atman and brahman) liberates one from the bounds of maya and hence - being free from the illusions of maya one is able to perform his deeds without attachment.

By walking the path of any of two or both yogas - one can get the results of both (enlightenment or jivanmukta).

Non-Attachment in Buddhism

In Buddhism, the non-attachment is one of the key principles of the Four Noble Truths or Nobel Eightfold Paths. Buddha taught that attachment (tanha) is the root of all suffering (dukha). The primary methods to overcome attachment in Buddhism are constant practices of compassion, mindfulness, meditation, and the cultivation of wisdom to remove all the feelings of cravings and desires. It is important to note that there is no concept of brahman in Buddhism and enlightenment is defined with only self (atman). The knowledge of the unchanging self in Buddhism is regarded as enlightenment which leads to liberation (nirvana).

Fundamentally it is the different philosophical approach and interpretation to the same thing and it is possible for advanced practitioners to practice multiple paths from both.

It is indeed possible to get attached to new things in life work and processes at different stages of life, hence the regular and constant spiritual practice purifies one from it and makes them detached with time. Some methods like - knowledge of atman, brahman (true self), neti-neti, mindfulness, meditation, prayer, sacrifices to the Ishvara, bhakti, cultivation of knowledge, etc are hence required.


Hindu scriptures divide mankind into two divisions, householders and Yogis. The message for Yogis is to remain detached. Hindu scriptures know that such a thing is not possible for householders. This is acknowledged by the Gita in the enigmatic verse given below.

What is like night to all ignorant beings, to that Atman-consciousness the self-controlled sage is awake; and the sensate life to which all ignorant beings are awake, that is like night to this illumined sage.

Gita 2.69

Advice for householders is given below.

Adroha (absence of ill-feeling), Alobha (absence of covetousness), Dama (self-control), Bhutadaya (kindness to living beings), Tapas (penance), Brahmacarya (celibacy), Satya (truthfulness), Anukrosa (compassion and tenderness), Ksama (forgiveness) and Dhrti (fortitude) – these are roots of Dharma but extremely difficult to achieve.

Vayu Purana I.57.116

As you can see tenderness is OK for householders. Detachment is not being asked. You may have questions about Tapas and Brahmacarya. Tapas for a householder does not mean full blown Yoga. It could mean daily prayer to God and taking part occasionally in pujas (ritualistic worship).

What about Brahmacarya? Hindu scripture talks of two types of Brahmacarya, one for householders and one for Yogis.

Brahmacharya (celibacy) for monks

Not indulging in sexual intercourse, mentally, verbally or physically is the vow of celibacy, with reference to the ascetics and the religious students.

Linga Purana I.8.16

Brahmacharya (celibacy) for householders

In their case, as prescribed, indulgence in sexual intercourse with their wives and abstention from it with other women mentally, physically and verbally should be understood as brahmacharya.

Linga Purana I.8.18

Rules for Yogis are very strict but not for householders.

  • Householders also have certain occassions in which they exercise self control with wife. Eclipses, certain numbered days of lunar cycle etc.
    – ajitdas
    Sep 21, 2023 at 14:38

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