Renunciation

Dear Readers,

I hope you are all faring well. It is yet another week and I am excited to be able to share with you all yet another interesting topic.

Today I’ll like us to discuss about renunciation, a topic which many spiritual paths share as a common denominator. Renunciation is the act of renouncing or giving up something, an idea, a person, etc. usually voluntarily for the pursuit of a higher purpose. In many spiritual paths we usually come across the word, renounce or the word “renounciate”; one who has renounced everything. As simple as it sounds this word can very easily be misinterpreted and if so the results can be devastating.

First and foremost it is necessary to state that the physical act of renouncing things or people for higher pursuit is not a guarantee in itself that one will be successful in such pursuits. It is also worthy to note that renunciation when done properly with the right mindset and consciousness can be very useful to the spiritual practitioner in his advancement in spiritual affairs. When people renounce it is usually to be able to have less distractions and to be able to have a pin-pointed focus on whatever their goal is. In everyday life people renounce different things which seem to pose as an obstacle to achieving their goals. For example a student can renounce social functions for his period in college in order to focus on studying, because attending such functions is a distraction for him. Usually it is of no use to renounce something just because someone else has done so. If one doesn’t identify what his “distraction” is and falsely renounces something else because everyone is doing so, sooner or later his real distraction will catch up with him.

During my years in college I had a lot of friends who renounced sleeping during the hours of 9 pm-2 am everyday just to be able to read. It soon became a thing, and everyone was doing it. A friend of mine however noticed I never showed up in those “till day break reading sessions” and asked me why. I replied him saying; I have no issue reading during the day, and I wake up early everyday so the only time I have to get real sleep is between 9 pm-4 am, besides this is not the distraction I have, so I am not doing it. A good number of my friends were always in apprehension as to how I was going to cover the outrageous syllabus we had within such a short time if I didn’t follow suit in the night reading. I knew exactly what I needed and it was an environment free from noise, once I had a noise free environment I could read. So my distraction was noise and not timing. What I needed to renounce was any surrounding prone to noise when I was studying. Suffice it to say I never had to follow in their style.

Similarly when people come in contact with spiritual life they are encouraged to renounce anything that is unfavorable to their practice and to embrace all that which is favorable. In order to make sure they make the right kind of renunciation the spiritual guide is there to help them through this phase. His presence in the lives of the neophyte practitioner acts as a compass directing him towards what he really needs to advance. When we renounce things falsely for the mere show of it without proper understanding of the process involved, we sooner or later go back to those very things we “renounced”. It is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita that those who renounce things but still have their minds dwelling on them are called pretenders. Thus renunciation should be done with the proper understanding and from a standpoint of knowledge and not sentiment. The motive should be to genuinely make progress or advancement, and not for personal aggrandizement or for cheap fame and petty follower-ship. Renunciation is not just the physical act of “giving something up”; it goes way beyond giving up things for those who understand that everything belongs to the Supreme Lord and should be used in his service. The ability to engage everything in the service of the Lord is actually a very high form of realization. This is because service to the Lord is of more importance than the mere act of giving up things.

Sometimes people who are not spiritually inclined feel that spiritualists are either passive because they are not actively engaged in activities like others or that they are lazy. Neither of this is the case as a thorough spiritualist is very actively engaged in the service of the Lord, day and night. What seems to be action for the spiritualist might appear as inaction for those who are not spiritually inclined and what seems to be action for the materialist is actually forbidden action for the spiritualists. Those who are actively engaged in loving service to the Lord need not renounce things prematurely for direct service to the Lord is superior to renunciation of things.

It is also worthy to note that donning the attire of a “renunciate” is not as important as actually internalizing the principles of renunciation. Often times we have cases of pseudo-renunciates who fail to understand and internalize the principles of renunciation but eager want to make an external show of the process of renunciation. This is no way disregards the outward appearance of a “renunciate” but is a call to action for all genuine spiritualists, that our external appearance doesn’t necessarily reflect our internal consciousness. The aim however is to make sure both of these parameters is in equilibrium; that our internal state of consciousness or renunciation is genuinely reflected in our external appearance and that we are deeply rooted in proper knowledge and understanding of the real process of renunciation.

If and when a neophyte or practicing spiritualists decides to renounce something, habits, ideologies etc. in order to focus in his quest for enlightenment, it is pertinent that they always remember the real reason why they have chosen such a path. If the reason is not to give pleasure to the Supreme Lord then we need to constantly revisit our intentions and fine tune them. The reason why we decide to make such changes should be one that is greater than anything in this material sphere. If it is less than giving pleasure to the Supreme Lord then it will always have a replacement or the practitioner will constantly be faced with the dilemma of renewing his “reasons” for renunciation. Should this be the case then his renunciation is said to be fruitless renunciation.

I hope this dissertation sheds some light on the subject matter and that it helps us understand a little more about renunciation. Please feel free to share this with family and friends.

Till our next read, do have a blissful day ahead.

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