Select Page

Few of Baha’u’llah’s exhortations have been stressed as often as detachment from this world and from every selfish desire:

The subject of detachment occurs in numerous Tablets. Perhaps it may be said that there are few, if any, among Bahá’u’lláh’s exhortations which have been stressed so much as detachment from this world and from every selfish desire. We have already referred to this important theme in previous chapters.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 2, p. 214 -216)

In this Hidden Word, Bahá’u’lláh describes the process of becoming attached to the wrong thing:

ALAS! ALAS! O LOVERS OF WORLDLY DESIRE!
Even as the swiftness of lightning ye have passed by the Beloved One, and have set your hearts on satanic fancies. Ye bow the knee before your vain imagining, and call it truth. Ye turn your eyes towards the thorn, and name it a flower. Not a pure breath have ye breathed, nor hath the breeze of detachment been wafted from the meadows of your hearts. Ye have cast to the winds the loving counsels of the Beloved and have effaced them utterly from the tablet of your hearts, and even as the beasts of the field, ye move and have your being within the pastures of desire and passion.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Persian Hidden Words 45)

God has warned us that we all hold onto things that perish, and the faster we let go, the better:

Night hath succeeded day, and day hath succeeded night, and the hours and moments of your lives have come and gone, and yet none of you hath, for one instant, consented to detach himself from that which perisheth. Bestir yourselves, that the brief moments that are still yours may not be dissipated and lost. Even as the swiftness of lightning your days shall pass, and your bodies shall be laid to rest beneath a canopy of dust. What can ye then achieve? How can ye atone for your past failure?  (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 321-322)

If we knew what He has in store for us, we’d hasten towards God:

Know ye from what heights your Lord, the All-Glorious is calling? Think ye that ye have recognized the Pen wherewith your Lord, the Lord of all names, commandeth you? Nay, by My life! Did ye but know it, ye would renounce the world, and would hasten with your whole hearts to the presence of the Well-Beloved. (Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 16)

All of us have baggage we’re carrying around, that we would like to let go of; some of it conscious, others unconscious.  The easiest way to catch it is to pay attention to the hamster wheel in our heads that keeps going round and round.   Any obsession that takes us away from God is something we want to dump, but how and why bother?  Let’s take a look at what the Baha’i Writings can tell us!

What is Attachment?

In the Baha’i Writings, attachment is described as anything which becomes a barrier between God and man, depriving us from drawing near to our Maker:

Attachment to this world may be described as anything which becomes a barrier between God and man, depriving the individual from drawing near to his Maker.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 21-22)

God has created us with a heart that needs to attach to something:

God has given man a heart and the heart must have some attachment. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 136-137)

 Where Do We Attach Ourselves? 

We’re attached to wine and other transgressions which have been forbidden:

O concourse of divines! It is not yours to boast if ye abstain from drinking wine and from similar transgressions which have been forbidden you in the Book.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 45)

We’re attached to this mortal world; the next world and all that is destined for us in the  hereafter and to the ‘Kingdom of Names’:

In another Tablet Bahá’u’lláh states that there are three barriers between God and man. He exhorts the believers to pass beyond them so that they may be enabled to attain His presence. The first one, which we have just discussed, is attachment to this mortal world. The second is attachment to the next world and all that is destined for man in the life hereafter. And the third is attachment to the ‘Kingdom of Names’.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 35-36)

We’re attached to pride in our accomplishments; knowledge; position; popularity and self-love:

The possession of earthly goods is often misunderstood to be the only form of attachment. But this is not so. Man’s pride in his accomplishments, his knowledge, his position, his popularity within society and, above all, his love for his own self are some of the barriers which come between him and God. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 1, p. 76)

We’re attached to worldly things; fear and anxiety, pleasures, prejudices, animosities and apathy and lethargy:

The gross materialism that engulfs the entire nation at the present hour; the attachment to worldly things that enshrouds the souls of men; the fear and anxieties that distract their minds; the pleasure and dissipations that fill their time, the prejudices and animosities that darken their outlook, the apathy and lethargy that paralyze their spiritual faculties — these are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every world-be warrior in the service of Bahá’u’lláh, obstacles which he must battle against the surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his own countrymen.  (Shoghi Effendi: Citadel of Faith, p. 149)

We’re attached to fleeting baubles:

For it can clearly be seen that today most of the people have seized upon fleeting baubles and clung to defective goods, and have remained deprived of perpetual bounty and of the fruits of the blessed Tree.  (Shoghi Effendi, Majmu’ih-yi Matbu’ih-yi Alvah-i Mubarakih, ed. Muhyi’d-Din Sabri (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1978), p. 346-361)

We’re attached to those who have denied and rejected God:

He further explains that one meaning of attachment to this world is attachment to those who have denied Him and repudiated His Cause.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, p. 22-23)

How Do We Become Attached?

We become attached when we allow our material, intellectual and selfish interests to take precedence over the interests of the Cause of God:

A believer becomes attached to the things of this world when he allows his material, intellectual and selfish interests to take precedence over the interests of the Cause of God. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 20)

What is Detachment?

The dictionary describes detachment as disinterest, aloofness, indifference, remoteness, lack of involvement, separation, disengagement, disentanglement and uncoupling.

In the Baha’i Writings, we see that detachment is freeing ourselves from everything except God:

Thou hast inquired about detachment. It is well known to thee that by detachment is intended the detachment of the soul from all else but God. That is, it consisteth in soaring up to an eternal station, wherein nothing that can be seen between heaven and earth deterreth the seeker from the Absolute Truth. In other words, he is not veiled from divine love or from busying himself with the mention of God by the love of any other thing or by his immersion therein. (Shoghi Effendi, Majmu’ih-yi Matbu’ih-yi Alvah-i Mubarakih, ed. Muhyi’d-Din Sabri (Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1978), p. 346-361)

We’re allowed to have and enjoy our possessions, we just can’t let them possess us intervene between us and God:

Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly thankful.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 276)

Detachment does not consist in setting fire to one’s house, or becoming bankrupt or throwing one’s fortune out of the window, or even giving away all of one’s possessions. Detachment consists in refraining from letting our possessions possess us.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 135)

Everything we do is for the sake of God, never seeking to be compensated in any way from anyone but God:

To be detached means to do everything for the sake of God and to seek no recompense.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 25)

When we can achieve this, we don’t busy ourselves with anything else, as we see in this prayer:

I beg Thee to forgive me, O my Lord, for every mention but the mention of Thee, and for every praise but the praise of Thee, and for every delight but delight in Thy nearness, and for every pleasure but the pleasure of communion with Thee, and for every joy but the joy of Thy love and of Thy good-pleasure, and for all things pertaining unto me which bear no relationship unto Thee, O Thou Who art the Lord of lords, He Who provideth the means and unlocketh the doors.  (The Bab, Baha’i Prayers, p. 79)

I’ve only been able to find one time when attachment is permitted – when we can see the reality of God in our attachment:

Attach not thyself to anything unless in it thou seest the reality of God – this is the first step into the court of eternity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 135-136)

Let’s look at how ‘Abdu’l-Baha demonstrated detachment:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the true Exemplar of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh demonstrated this form of detachment by His actions. Throughout His life, He never wished to exalt His name nor did He seek publicity for Himself. For instance, He had an immense dislike of being photographed. He said ‘… to have a picture of oneself is to emphasize the personality… During the first few days of His visit to London, He refused to be photographed. However, as a result of much pressure by the newspaper reporters, and persistent pleas by the friends to take His photograph, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá acquiesced in order to make them happy.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 40)

Then He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] laughed, with that wonderful gleam of humour in His face. “All these Boards and committees: of what importance are they? The really important thing is to spread the Cause of God. I am not on any committee.  (The Diary of Juliet Thompson)

Here’s a good summary of the process of letting go:

The individual alone must assess its character, consult his conscience, prayerfully consider all its aspects, manfully struggle against the natural inertia that weighs him down in his effort to arise, shed, heroically and irrevocably, the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold him back, empty himself of every thought that may tend to obstruct his path, mix, in obedience to the counsels of the Author of His Faith, and in imitation of the One Who is its true Exemplar, with men and women, in all walks of life, seek to touch their hearts through the distinction which characterizes his thoughts, his words and his acts, and win them over, tactfully, lovingly, prayerfully and persistently, to the Faith he himself has espoused.  (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 148)

We detach by

  • assessing our character
  • consulting our conscience
  • prayerfully considering all the aspects
  • struggling against the natural inertia that weighs us down in our effort to arise
  • shedding the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold us back
  • emptying ourselves of every thought that may obstruct our path
  • mixing with men and women, in all walks of life
  • touching their hearts
  • winning them over through our thoughts, words and acts
  • winning them over to the Faith

Why do we Detach?

Attachment to the things of this world prompts us to walk after our lusts and covetous desires and hinders us from entering the straight and glorious Path:

Disencumber yourselves of all attachment to this world and the vanities thereof. Beware that ye approach them not, inasmuch as they prompt you to walk after your own lusts and covetous desires, and hinder you from entering the straight and glorious Path.      (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 275)

Our spirits aren’t illumined, quickened or resuscitated by the things of this world:

The spirit of man is not illumined and quickened through material sources. It is not resuscitated by investigating phenomena of the world of matter.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 288)

That which is temporary does not deserve our heart’s attachment:

The earth life lasts but a short time, even its benefits are transitory; that which is temporary does not deserve our heart’s attachment.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 135-136)

Everything of this world is destined to perish:

We have proved that nothing is completely worthy of our heart’s devotion save reality, for all else is destined to perish.   (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 136-137)

Our hearts are never at rest of find real joy and happiness until we attach ourselves to the eternal:

God has given man a heart and the heart must have some attachment. We have proved that nothing is completely worthy of our heart’s devotion save reality, for all else is destined to perish. Therefore the heart is never at rest and never finds real joy and happiness until it attaches itself to the eternal. How foolish the bird that builds its nest in a tree that may perish when it could build its nest in an ever-verdant garden of paradise.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 136-137)

The dignity of our station would be tainted in the eyes of the people, our affairs would be disrupted, and our names would be disgraced and dishonoured:

O concourse of divines! It is not yours to boast if ye abstain from drinking wine and from similar transgressions which have been forbidden you in the Book, for should ye commit such deeds, the dignity of your station would then be tainted in the eyes of the people, your affairs would be disrupted, and your name disgraced and dishonoured.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 45)

Our true and abiding glory resides in submission to the Word of God:

Nay, your true and abiding glory resideth in submission to the Word of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, and in your inward and outward detachment from aught else besides God, the All-Compelling, the Almighty. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 45)

We want to be blessed by God and numbered among the learned:

Great is the blessedness of that divine that hath not allowed knowledge to become a veil between him and the One Who is the Object of all knowledge, and who, when the Self-Subsisting appeared, hath turned with a beaming face towards Him. He, in truth, is numbered with the learned. The inmates of Paradise seek the blessing of his breath, and his lamp sheddeth its radiance over all who are in heaven and on earth. He, verily, is numbered with the inheritors of the Prophets. He that beholdeth him hath, verily, beheld the True One, and he that turneth towards him hath, verily, turned towards God, the Almighty, the All-Wise.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 45)

We want to be able to guide others to God’s light:

His Holiness Christ sayeth: “When ye leave the city, clean off from your shoes the dust thereof.” The holiness of the teachers must reach this degree. Thus may they utter with eloquence, while in ecstasy and great joy, and guide the people to the manifest light.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 359-360)

We want to be happy in the absence of things:

This matter of teachers requires the greatest condition; that is, they should never stain themselves with the world, they should not look for the least pecuniary reward from any soul; nay, rather they should bear the utmost poverty and with the perfect wealth of nature [a state wherein man can dispense with things and be happy in their absence], through the bounty of God, may they associate with the people. They should seek no reward nor recompense. Freely have thy received, freely should they give. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 359-360)

What Does Detachment Look Like?

We know we’re detached when we’re severed when we are attracted, enkindled, teaching and separated from this mortal world and its concerns:

Greeting and high respects to the maid-servant of God Miss … . , who is attracted, enkindled, hath spoken and called out, and hath stripped herself from the garment of dependence of this mortal world and its concerns and is clothed with the embroidered garments of separation (from the world) in this great Paradise.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 606-607)

We know we’re detached when we’re severed from the world and united with God:

He should … be severed and detached from the world of dust and united with the Lord of Lords (Compilations, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 49)

We know we’re detached when we put our trust in God, renounce the peoples of the earth, detach ourselves from the world of dust, and cleave unto God:

That seeker must, at all times, put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, must detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265)

We know we’re detached when we stop exalting ourselves above any one, when we let go  of every trace of pride and vain-glory, when we cling to patience and resignation and when we observe silence and refrain from idle talk:

He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265)

We know we’re detached when we’re free from backbiting:

That seeker should, also, regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul. He should be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we avoid boastful and worldly people:

He should treasure the companionship of them that have renounced the world, and regard avoidance of boastful and worldly people a precious benefit.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we commune with God at dawn:

At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and, with all his soul, persevere in the quest of his Beloved.   (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we consume every wayward thought with the mention of God and pass up anything save God:

He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we help the poor and destitute:

He should succor the dispossessed, and never withhold his favor from the destitute. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we show kindness to man and animals:

He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we’re ready to offer up our life for God and refuse to allow anything to turn us away from His truth:

He should not hesitate to offer up his life for his Beloved, nor allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the Truth. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we can wish for others what we wish for ourselves and keep our promises:

He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we avoid fellowship with evil-doers, forgive them and pray for their sins:

With all his heart he should avoid fellowship with evil-doers, and pray for the remission of their sins. He should forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate, for none knoweth what his own end shall be.   (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 265-266)

We know we’re detached when we teach others to rely on God:

Our purpose in revealing these convincing and weighty utterances is to impress upon the seeker that he should regard all else beside God as transient, and count all things save Him, Who is the Object of all adoration, as utter nothingness.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 266)

We know we’re detached when we spend more and more time in the path of God:

I ask God that it may become realized, and day by day, thou mayest walk more and more in the path of the Kingdom, in order that thou mayest be freed from the strangers and friends, be disengaged from attachment to the material world and be attached wholly to the divine Kingdom. At that time thou wilt behold the lights of the most great gift.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 545)

We know we’re detached when we abandon all mortal things and intend to endure all calamities in the path of God:

I hope thou hast abandoned all such (mortal) things, and when thou hast attained to this great bounty, that is, when thou art delivered from the attachments of this mortal world, and hast intended to endure all calamities in the path of God—in such wise that reproaches on the part of the enemy will seem to thee as praise and glorification, and the blame of the people of hatred will appear like unto admiration and applause, and the bitterness of afflictions will taste as the honey of favor and all hardships be as sweetness—then canst thou step into the path of the Kingdom and become the herald of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 358)

We know we’re detached when we stop engaging in childish play and pastimes, and pursue only that which beseems our station:

Likewise, man’s distinction lieth in the excellence of his conduct and in the pursuit of that which beseemeth his station, not in childish play and pastimes. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 60)

We know we’re detached when we can abandon our luxuries and turn to God:

Know that thy true adornment consisteth in the love of God and in thy detachment from all save Him, and not in the luxuries thou dost possess. Abandon them unto those who seek after them and turn unto God, He Who causeth the rivers to flow.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 60)

We know we’re detached when we’re occupied with a profession and are self-supporting:

In one of His Tablets Bahá’u’lláh says that the highest form of detachment in this day is to be occupied with some profession and be self-supporting.   (From a letter dated 26 February 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

We know we’re detached when we can devote our time to both material needs and service to the Cause:

A good Bahá’í, therefore, is the one who so arranges his life as to devote time both to his material needs and also to the service of the Cause.  (From a letter dated 26 February 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

We know we’re detached when we’re able to teach without expecting anything from anyone:

Such must be the degree of your detachment, that into whatever city you enter to proclaim and teach the Cause of God, you should in no wise expect either meat or reward from its people. Nay, when you depart out of that city, you should shake the dust from off your feet. As you have entered it pure and undefiled, so must you depart from that city. (Shoghi Effendi, The Dawn-Breakers, p. 92-93)

We know we’re detached when we satisfy ourselves with little else save teaching:

The people of God are like the birds, who satisfy themselves with a few crumbs, and sit the whole time on the branches of the tree singing the praises of God.   (Compilations, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 501)

Here are some real-life stories of detachment:

Dr Habib, whose older brother attained martyrdom, was born in 1888 at Kermanshah, Persia and was given the name Mu’ayyad (meaning ‘confirmed’) by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. At the age of twenty-one, when en route to Beirut to begin his medical studies at the American University, he spent a month in the Holy Land with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who took a personal interest in his progress. Thereafter he returned each summer to serve the Cause, extending hospitality to visitors and pilgrims, recording daily events, acquiring spiritual knowledge from outstanding Bahá’í scholars and being entrusted with the receipt and dispatch of Tablets. Referring to Habib’s student days, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá extolled the young man’s influence, detachment and sanctity, saying “the fragrance of Beirut” perfumed His nostrils.  (Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui – Letters to New Zealand, p. 97)

************************************

The disciples of Christ forgot themselves and all earthly things, forsook all their cares and belongings, purged themselves of self and passion and with absolute detachment scattered far and wide and engaged in calling the peoples of the world to the Divine Guidance, till at last they made the world another world, illumined the surface of the earth and even to their last hour proved self-sacrificing in the pathway of that Beloved One of God. Finally in various lands they suffered glorious martyrdom. Let them that are men of action follow in their footsteps! (’Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 441)

************************************

He is My true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold will pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is assuredly of Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of sanctity…. And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one indeed is the creation of spotless chastity. Thus instructeth you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.”  (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 31)

************************************

A prosperous merchant who is not absorbed in his business knows severance. A banker whose occupation does not prevent him from serving humanity is severed. A poor man can be attached to a small thing.  A rich man and a poor man lived in the same town. One day the poor man said to the rich man, “I want to go to the Holy Land.” The rich man replied, “Very good, I will go also,” and they started from the town and began their pilgrimage. But night fell and the poor man said, “Let us return to our houses to pass the night.” The rich man replied, “We have started for the Holy Land and must not now return.” The poor man said, “The Holy Land is a long distance to travel on foot. I have a donkey, I will go and fetch it.” “What?” replied the rich man, “are you not ashamed? I leave all my possessions to go on this pilgrimage and you wish to return to get your donkey! I have abandoned with joy my whole fortune. Your whole wealth consists of a donkey and you cannot leave it!” You see that fortune is not necessarily an impediment. The rich man who is thus detached is near to reality. There are many rich people who are severed and many poor who are not.  May our spirit be at rest! (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 135)

************************************

Mirza Azizu’llah-i-Misbah was one of the great scholars of the Faith. His life and learning have shed imperishable lustre on the annals of the Cause during the ministries of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. In his collection of gem-like meditations we find this short yet profound statement: He who seeks reward for his deeds will be given the Garden of Paradise; and he who seeks God is in no need of paradise.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 38)

Detachment doesn’t mean we have to become ascetics, though.  In fact, it’s forbidden:

This concept of detachment from material things is often misunderstood and is taken to mean renouncing the world. Many people think that the way to detachment is to shut oneself away in a monastery, lead an ascetic life, or live as a mendicant, careless of one’s personal affairs and responsibilities. None of these practices conform with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 20)

God wants us to take advantage of every good thing, as long as it doesn’t intervene between us and God:

Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly thankful.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 276)

We are not ascetics in any sense of the word. On the contrary, Bahá’u’lláh says God has created all the good things in the world for us to enjoy and partake. But we must not become attached to them and put them before the spiritual things.    (Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v II, p. 69)

This means that the world and all that is therein is created for man. God wants him to benefit from its wealth, to exploit its resources wisely and in harmony with nature, to work and possess all the good things he can earn, and to enjoy all the legitimate pleasures that life bestows upon him. But at no time must he allow the things of this world to possess him and rule over his heart and soul.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 21-22)

Letting go of people in particular, seems to be a process:

Knowing how painful and dangerous it is for such believers to repudiate their former allegiances and friendships they should try to gradually persuade them of the wisdom and necessity of such an action, and instead of thrusting upon them a new principle to make them accept it inwardly, and out of pure conviction and desire. Too severe and immediate action in such cases is not only fruitless, but actually harmful. It alienates people instead of winning them to the Cause.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 162)

What’s been your experience with letting go?  Post your comments below!