Many struggle with renunciation, feeling frustrated at past habits which, like a great anchor, seem to keep us weighted down, preventing us from flying skyward.
Yet when a plane takes off, is it at cruising altitude all at once? It continues its flight on the force of its engines. It does not stop. We must be patient with ourselves and simply trust in the grace of the Lord while continuing onward with our practice without expectation for results. Renunciation will come naturally as inner joy increases. Over time, the inner intoxication will win out and render sense attractions powerless. The naturally renounced sages are not giving up anything, nor do they feel this way. As Swami Pranabananda once told Yogananda, when the joy of the Self is reached, it is the world sense-addicted souls who are seen as the true renunciates.
When the drunk partakes in his drink, he at once laughs and dances like a carefree child, forgetting all of his problems. He becomes numb to the world and forgets himself.
So it is with the realized yogi.
Yet unlike the worldly drunk whose behavior results in deterioration of the body, mind, and soul, binding him to the world of sorrows and keeping him deluded, the yogi enjoys the divine intoxication of the Self, which eliminates permanently all sufferings and delusions. The soul experiences itself like the limitless expanse of sky – and no longer is there any body or sense of “I.” Sri Sanyal Mahasaya wrote of this in Spiritual Gita, which is quoted variously below…
“Therefore what is required is a well concentrated practice of kriya, by which a sort of drunken or intoxicated feeling develops, and the mind is not attracted by outward things. Due to this drunkenness the sadhak forgets himself as well as the outside” (Spiritual Gita III, p.34)
Yet many starting on the path of meditation give up so quickly.
How many put in great efforts and long work hours in pursuit of material wealth? What can be greater wealth than eternal, unbounded bliss and joy of one’s own Self? If persons invested the same efforts in spiritual practice, they would advance rapidly. What a shame! Furthermore, the phantom of Death is ever keeping close tabs on the life of embodied beings. No one knows when He will pounce. The wise seek the lotus feet of the Lord and Guru in practice.
“Alas, when by the grace of God and the Guru or when he’s had enough of the world he turns to sadhan and looks towards his real self and his actual origin and home. In course of time, realizing the self – he situates in it and as a result, interest in other subjects diminishes.” (Spiritual Gita III p. 12)
Renunciation that is outward only, while still maintaining desires and related thoughts in the mind, is no renunciation at all. It is much better to lead a well disciplined life of moderation and self-control while concurrently continuing faithfully with one’s sadhana. In time, as the inward intoxication increases, the cravings of the senses will be rendered powerless and renunciation will happen naturally.
“Those who are intoxicated by their kriya’s advanced stage (paravastha) do not have worldly attitudes, thus the subjects or objects of this world are immaterial to them.” (Spiritual Gita III, p.31)
Also, to illustrate this point (regarding natural renunciation), Sri Ramakrishna would tell his disciples that the tail of a tadpole must be allowed to drop off naturally in time. If it is forcibly removed prematurely, the tadpole may die.
It is better that we just keep practicing, offering our practice to the Lord, while contemplating the defects of a life lived solely for the senses…
“In the beginning to curb the attitudes of the chitta or mind, it should be understood that any pleasure received by the indriyas (senses) through worldly or material enjoyments is short-lived. Then, for curbing of the sense-organs yogic acts of pranayam and (posture or) asans are reauired, thus the yogis give them much importance.” (Spiritual Gita III, p. 25)
Yogic sadhana such as Kriya Yoga enables us to gradually settle in a more refined or subtle bliss. In time, the senses will begin to lose their allure and charm as they will be clearly seen as far inferior in comparison to the inward joy of the Self which is without limit. One feels sugar is great – then he tastes honey.
Some sadhaks who begin to experience some intoxication mistakenly believe themselves to be free, and prematurely stop their sadhana. This also is a grave error. Until firmly established in the Self, there ever remains the possibility of a fall.
“So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service. Only he who has fully mastered the breathless state is free from cosmic imperatives.”
(Autobiography of a Yogi, Years in My Master’s Hermitage, chapter 12, Paramahansa Yogananda)
So the way to practice in the spirit of the Gita (as also, should be our attitude in life), is to practice without the notion of doer ship, considering that the Lord is performing our sadhana – and to practice without expectation for results. The Lord will take care of all.
I bow to God, Gurus, and devotees of all traditions.