The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.4.5) places before us the ideal of Self-realization and the need to elevate human love to divine love: "Verily not for the sake of the husband is the husband loved, but for the sake of the Self. Verily not for the sake of the wife is the wife loved, but for the sake of the Self. Verily not for the sake of the children are the children loved, but for the sake of the Self. Verily not for the sake of wealth is wealth loved, but for the sake of the Self. ...Verily not for the sake of the All is the All loved, but for the sake of the Self. Verily, it is the Self that should be realized-should be heard of, reflected on, and meditated upon."
Sri Krishna describes the world as impermanent and an abode of misery (Bhagavad Gita, 8.15). We experience this truth when someone close to us passes away, but in no time maya clouds our understanding and binds us again to the world. Spiritual aspirants should consciously reflect on the fact that God alone is real and eternal, and the world, including the body, unreal and impermanent. Says Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi: "Everything is illusory-husband, wife, even this body. These are the great shackles of maya. Unless you can free yourself from these shackles you will never be able to cross to the other shore of the world. Attachment to the body, this identification of the Self with the body, must go. What is this body, after all, my child? It is nothing but three pounds of ashes when it is cremated. However strong or beautiful this body may be, it ends up in those three pounds of ashes. Yet people are attached to it. What maya!"
Giving a Godward turn to our mind helps us grow in detachment from family and possessions. To make this possible, we have to exercise our power of discrimination, change our attitude toward the world, and train our mind to dwell on God. Swami Vivekananda elucidates this practice of detachment: "Whatever exists in this universe is to be covered with the Lord. We have to cover everything with the Lord Himself, not by a false sort of optimism, not by blinding our eyes to evil, but by really seeing God in everything. Thus we have to give up the world. And when the world is given up, what remains? God. What is meant? You can have your wife; you certainly do not have to abandon her, but you are to see God in your wife. Give up your children-what does that mean? To turn them out of doors, as some human brutes do in every country? Certainly not. That is diabolism; it is not religion. But see God in your children. So in everything. In life and in death, in happiness and in misery, the Lord is equally present. The whole world is full of the Lord. Open your eyes and see Him. This is what Vedanta teaches: Give up the world which you have conjectured, because your conjecture was based upon a very partial experience, upon very poor reasoning, and upon your own weakness. Give it up....Open your eyes and see that, as such, it never existed; it was a dream, maya. What existed was the Lord Himself. It is He who is in the child, in the wife, and in the husband; it is He who is in the good and in the bad. He is in the sin and in the sinner; He is in life and in death."