The perfect man employs his mind as a mirror; it grasps nothing; it refuses nothing; it receives, but does not keep.
"Detachment" is not a term that is greeted with much favor in American culture. In common parlance, the word suggests aloofness, emotional frigidity, or insensitivity to the concerns of others or one's community. Zen Buddhism, however, does not view detachment with such negativity. Indeed, detachment is regarded as central to the preservation of one's core balance and integrity. In his fine book, Become What You Are, the great Zen teacher Alan Watts explained it this way:
Detachment means to have neither regrets for the past nor fears for the future; to let life take its course without attempting to interfere with its movement and change, neither trying to prolong the stay of things pleasant nor to hasten the departure of things unpleasant. To do this is to move in time with life, to be in perfect accord with its changing music, and this is called Enlightenment. In short, it is to be detached from both the past and future and to live in the eternal Now. For in truth neither past nor future have any existence apart from this Now; by themselves they are illusions. Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal.The old sage Lao-tzu was, of course, the master of detachment. "Just stay at the center of the circle," he said, "and let all things take their course." Tao Te Ching (translation by Stephen Mitchell).