The world today is very practical and demanding. We live most of our lives in the quest of a better job and a better pay. We rarely get time to look within. The topic that we are going to discuss is renouncing the world and whether it is feasible these days.
What is Renunciation?
Well, renouncing means leaving the life of luxury and becoming a saint, at least in the layman terms, although on a deeper level there is a difference between becoming spiritual but not religious. Yet for the sake of this discussion, we will take the meaning of renunciation as understood in terms of leaving aside the worldly comforts, and living a very basic minimal life on bare necessities in search of the truth within and attaining self realization.
Past & Present
There are many people who have done so in the past. We have heard about Gautam Buddha who left his life of a prince and became a saint. He lived a life of hardship and became the enlighten one. It was not easy for him. His family was always against this and they wanted him to become a prince. He took a tough decision. He heard his inner voice. He was blessed with true knowledge and he did spread it among his followers.
Renouncing the world was never very easy or feasible in any era for that matter. The families would always oppose. Still the great spiritual leaders have done it. The only point is that you must have the idea clear in mind. You must know what you are doing. You should be dedicated to the goal that you have chosen for yourself. Even today there are spiritual leaders who have left the world for a bigger role. They know that they want to help those who are in need. They are extremely dedicated and know exactly how to deal with the situation.
When you renounce the world no one will know you. Only after years of meditation and hard work you will be able to attain the success that you always wanted. And that success may not be in the worldly sense although many renunciates are under the wrong notion that people should start to recognize and follow them. Of course bees get attracted to honey so if you are genuinely spiritual and inspiring you will certainly have a great number of followers, but that is not the aim of renunciation, neither is the real aim to attain supernatural powers and siddhis or clairvoyance, extra sensory perception etc.
However, all this is only possible when you have a X-factor in you. When you have the ability to stay strong and unshakable in the face of utter opposition and intense criticism, then you can certainly think of renouncing the world. The path is filled with difficulty and is certainly not for the faint hearted or people with weak resolutions.
Is It Escapism?
Many people wrongly think that one can become a sanyasin for running away from trouble and responsibility and that it is an easy and cool life, whereas the truth is that it is much more difficult than staying the world, where you have family, parents, siblings, spouse, kids etc to understand and take care and share your happiness, worries and sorrows.
Dangers for False Renunciates
There are lot of dangers awaiting a person who wants to renounce the world without understanding its significance or knowing the difficulties of the path, and one may end up ruining his/her life. Many people have tried to renounce the world in the past. Some have succeeded and some have not. We are not trying to discourage you. If you have the passion to first know yourself and upon that self awareness, the humbleness and eagerness to serve others, you can definitely look at renouncing the world.
Trial of Renouncing the World
You can join an ashram for some time and live a life of seclusion. When you practice renunciation for some days you will be able to understand how well you can handle this. It will help you to decide if you can actually renounce the world. As people renounce the world they renounce all the family ties. You cannot be a husband or a father when you have renounced them for a spiritual life. This becomes the challenge.
You may start missing your family. Your family may be upset with you. They may feel that they were not important to you as a result you left them to become a renunciate. This can leave a very bitter impression in the mind of your children. They may even start hating you for the rest of their lives. This can be a very painful part of renouncing the world. This can be emotionally very stressful and lead to serious depression.
When you are working you have a lot of money flowing in. You can buy all that you want. You can live a life of luxury. However, when you renounce all this and become a sadhu/monk/saint you will have to go through a paradigm shift. You will not have much money with you as a result you will have to worry about the very basic needs of life. There may be days when you will not even get enough to eat. This can be a very painful condition especially when you have lived a life of luxury.
The modern education system prepares us for competition. We are taught to get good marks and succeed in life. We all want to do better than our friends. When you live the world the biggest challenge will be the negative reaction that you will get. People will either consider you as a looser or think that you have lost mental stability. We all aspire to be successful in life and to become businessmen, engineers and doctors and join highly paying jobs. No one ever wants to become a wondering monk. When a member of the family renounces the family it becomes very difficult for the family members. The neighbours and the other family members start to question them about what happened and how. They cannot answer so many questions and eventually become more depressed.
In today’s world it has become almost impossible to imagine that people can renounce the world for a better and peaceful life. These points that we have mentioned above does make it more difficult to renounce the world. Renouncing the world: is it feasible these days perhaps not. Still there are people with immense courage who follow this path less taken.
Other Side of Coin
Yet it must be said that this is only one side of the coin, we wont discuss the other side otherwise the article will become too lengthy and confusing, but anyone who feels upon reading this that renunciation is not for them, dont worry. True spirituality is much more than renunciation and one can live a saintly life yet be a renunciate within the world. There have been great Sages such as Sri Lahiri Mahasaya Ji and several others who have lead by example that this is possible. We will learn about these ways soon so keep reading.