We are all men and women of renunciation. You need to dispose of that which is useless in order to get things that are more useful. Yet, the very mention of renunciation puts people off. Could this be because of a misunderstanding of the true meaning of renunciation?
The grandeur and magnificence of renunciation lies in growth to a higher dimension, and lower fascinations drop. It is giving up that which comes in the way of your success and happiness. The Gita asks you to remove the wrapper and relish the chocolate, remove the unpleasant aspects of life and enjoy the world. Renunciation is opening your mind to deeper and more fulfilling aspects of your personality, while continuing to enjoy the lower joys.
When a child grows to understand the thrill of riding a bike, its erstwhile passion for toys fades away. A mother foregoes a chocolate to give it to her child because the emotional joy is greater than the physical satisfaction of eating the chocolate. When you elevate further to intellectual delights, even the emotional thrills fade into insignificance. Finally, when you understand the happiness that comes with the Spirit, all worldly enchantments drop. Higher joy is subtler and difficult to spot, so the attention is only on the lower. People believe renunciation is giving up the good things of life. They have no vision of the higher. They deny themselves the ecstasy and power of true renunciation.
Krishna, in the Gita’s eighteenth chapter, defines the two most important concepts – sanyasa, renunciation, and tyaga, resignation. Contrary to popular perception neither sanyasa nor tyaga implies giving up action. Action continues, while giving up the two things that come in the way of excellence – desire and anxiety for the fruit. Desire is necessary to initiate action. Without desire, no action will be undertaken. There is always a fruit in mind before acting. However, while acting, one hundred per cent of the mind must be on the action. If, at this time, the mind meanders into the dead past or unborn future, it is not concentrating on the present. Action becomes faulty, leading to failure.
Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance must never be given up. Action free from attachment and fruit is the pathway to spiritual evolution. The rare one who is on the verge of Realisation and is absorbed in meditation needs to let go of the last thought, the mantra, which prevents him from taking off into the exalted state of Enlightenment. He needs to give up even the desire for Realisation.
Tyaga is of three kinds – sattvika, rajasika and tamasika. Abandoning obligatory action out of delusion is tamasika. False or rajasika tyaga is giving up action because it is troublesome, fearing physical discomfort. True or sattvika tyaga is performance of obligatory action because it ought to be done, giving up attachment and fruit.
Then comes a brilliant insight into our personality. The various facets of our inner working are knowledge, action, actor, intellect, consistency and happiness. Each of these can be sattvika, pure; rajasika, passionate or tamasika, indolent. This analysis helps identify your strengths and weaknesses. For example, you may have sattvika knowledge but may be tamasika in consistency. With a little effort in this area, you will be able to knock off tamas, refine rajas and make a huge difference in your performance.