A common misunderstanding - at least I think it's common, since it's something I halfway thought for a long time - is that detachment, in the Buddhist sense, is the same thing as apathy. But I think the quote below by James Ray says how I think of it now in the clearest way I've come across.
Detachment means, to me, detachment from specific outcomes. When you let go of the stress of demanding that things turn out a certain way, that is detachment. You can live with total compassion and concern, but only right now. By concentrating fully on the present experience of the moment, this moment, NOW, you can actually care about something more fully than ever.
Work in each passing moment for what you consider the highest right and greatest good. And as you do that, the results you intend, in each moment, will manifest. But the kicker is that it doesn't matter if it does manifest, because this moment, whatever it is, is perfect as long as you engage fully with it.
["Are you paying attention?... This moment is the only thing that matters. - Peaceful Warrior] - Remember?
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"If you can immerse yourself in living, then you can detach while you are still fully engaged. Sound contradictory? It's not.
You can set goals and work to achieve great things in your life. At the same time, you can live each day for its own sake rather than some future return. You can stop living as if every experience is a means to an end and see that every experience is an end in itself.
Most people live everywhere but the present.
Some of us dwell in the past, reliving good memories or trying to change bad ones. Many more are on that treadmill, running to get to somewhere else. But this kind of living brings limited power and limited joy when compared to what you have when you are fully engaged in what you're doing and being right now."