Perspective of the Renunciate
Ahe realization of the sannyasin is focused in the first mantra of the Ishavasya Upanishad: “All, this, indeed, is pervaded by the cosmic spirit.” The entire universe is an embodiment of God. All that lives and moves in this world is a member of a common universal family. In earth, air, water and ether, in the woods and the glades, in the hills and the dales, in the brooks and the meadows, in the aged and the young–everywhere is God. The world no longer has any exclusive sphere of possession. It loses its illusive power of bondage. “I am his, and he is mine” becomes: “I am for all, and he is Thine, O Lord.”
This is the realization of the sannyasin. The spirit of renunciation enables him not to lose sight of the spirit in matter, or the awareness of divinity in the multitude of names and forms. His expansive, diffusive spirit can no more be held down to a particular groove of life. His great longing to release his consciousness from the limitation of evanescent values opens up before him broad vistas of universal spiritual realization.
The sannyasin renounces the world in the sense that he no longer wishes to be bound up with a single family or be an exclusive possession of it, and if he ceases his association with the family in which he was born, it is because his family members are unable to fully accept his dissociation from their possessive, personalized interests which they regard as the hallmark of kinship.
The kinship of the sannyasin is the kinship of the spirit. He is related to the world and serves mankind, in the light of his realization. His renunciation is not something negative, but gives him a true understanding of life, and of the objects and the values of the world. His attitude to the mundane world is based on a positive, helpful spirit of detachment.
Attachment is at the root of all suffering. Desire enlivens it, and fulfillment of desire leads to a further increase of attachment and desire. You think that a mundane relationship will give you happiness, but when it does not, as it cannot, you come to grief. You get attached to individuals, and when they do not fulfill your expectations, you become sorrowful. Suffering becomes the shadow of one who clings to the brittle objects of the world.
Renunciation of desire
The life of man is pervaded by suffering, because it is never free from desire. When the sannyasin gets involved with desire, even though it is of a different kind–such as the desire to be a great spiritual benefactor of the world–he, too, cannot escape from its consequences and shake off the grip of worry.
In renunciation of desires is real joy. The sannyasin thinks, as the Buddha thought: “If the desired object is not attained, there is unhappiness. If the desired object fails to respond, there is unhappiness. If the desired object is momentarily attained, there is the anxiety that it might be lost. If the desired object recoils with a negative response, there is still more unhappiness.” Thus true happiness consists in the renunciation of desires.
To say that you have renounced the world, when you did not possess anything substantial, or to say that you have no desire for any worldly object just because you do not have the means to possess the object of desire or lack the initiative and drive to attain it, makes no sense. Renunciation and detachment indicate self-denial, self-effacement and dispassion. It means the pulverization of one’s ego. Renunciation or sannyasa is, thus, the greatest of all tapas.
May all sannyasins imbibe the true spirit of renunciation and serve the world effectively and assiduously as humble instruments of God, while exemplifying in their practical lives all that they ask the world to do. May the grace of God be upon all.