Why is renunciation important in life


Renounce means giving up something voluntarily. To renounce means to stop doing something in the future that was previously done. Renunciation can mean that one wants to renounce the world, want to renounce life, want to renounce wealth or also want to renounce pleasure. Renunciation is an important aspect of spiritual life.

Renunciation - video, audio, explanation

There are many Sanskrit expressions for the word "renounce". There is Vairagya, there is Tyaga and several others.

Renunciation means voluntarily renouncing something that would ultimately lead you into bondage or something that binds you. Money does not make you happy and so it can be helpful to consciously renounce money so that you do not suffer when it is taken away from you. One can renounce fame and honor if one wants to experience something higher.

Renunciation does not necessarily mean that one lives in linen or in sackcloth, has nothing to eat and only lives on begging gifts. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita to renounce [[wish | wishes], to renounce the desire for reward and attachment. You can enjoy what karma brings you and it is also important to take the things that you need to fulfill your Dharma, your responsibilities, your tasks. It is inner renunciation that is especially important.

As long as you have the idea that you need something specific to be happy, you are trapped in the illusion. But if you know inside, “I don't need anything outside”, then you can free your happiness from external limitations. And so renunciation means in particular the inner renunciation, the inner letting go.

Renounce - video and audio

Here is a lecture video on the subject of renunciation:

Some information about renunciation in this short talk. Sukadev deals with the word, the expression, renunciation from the standpoint of yoga philosophy.

Viveka Chudamani - strive for liberation and renounce relative desires

Let go of all desires, strive for God first

- Commentary on Viveka Chudamani verse 8 by Sukadev Bretz -

"Therefore, the sage seeks liberation by renouncing the desire for pleasure and satisfaction of the sense objects and following the teachings of the great Vedanta teachers."

Strive intensely for liberation

If you are wise, strive for liberation. In the previous verses, Shankaracharya emphasizes that if you are wise, you should strive for liberation. Only the fool thinks he is happy with relative pleasure. You have the opportunity to practice spiritually, otherwise you would not have the time now to listen to this lecture. You have everything you need You have a body and a mind. It is a matter of going into action and really doing it, striving for liberation. That is exactly what the wise man and the wise do. They strive for liberation.

Renounce the desire for sense gratification

How do you do that? Shankaracharya says, "... the sage seeks liberation by renouncing the desire for wealth and sense gratification."

This is important. Many beginners on the spiritual path have a tendency to prioritize their safety, family, emotions, relationships, a nice house, regular vacations, certain wealth, or in need of certain affluence in old age. Then it is checked whether there is time for the liberation.

Strive for the kingdom of God first

Shankaracharya denies this and says that you should do it differently. Renounce the desire for wealth, prosperity, prestige, and sense gratification. First strive for liberation. Jesus also says in the Sermon on the Mount that you should first strive for the kingdom of God, then everything else will fall to you by itself.

In this sense, strive for the highest liberation and everything else will come by itself. On the spiritual path it is important to look at things in the right order. This is what the great masters say over and over again, Jesus, Shankaracharya, Mohammed, the great mystics of all traditions.

See spiritual development as the most important thing in your life and everything else can follow. You can be rich, wealthy, have prestige and grow spiritually at the same time. But spiritual growth should come first.

Always include in your other activities, actions and decisions whether they will help you on the spiritual path. For example, when you are asked to enter into a new partnership, take a new job, move into a new apartment, book a vacation, consider whether this will help you on your way to liberation. The consideration of what brings me closer to liberation is characteristic of a real aspirant.

Now, at this moment, think about whether there are any decisions that are currently pending in your life. Include in your considerations how you can make the decisions that will lead you to liberation.

Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas in renunciation and renunciation

- A lecture by Sukadev Bretz 2019 -

Commentary on the verses of the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 18 verses 7 to 12

  • How can you do without well?
  • How can one renounce well?
  • How can one advance spiritually?
  • And what are the dangers of doing without and renouncing?

These are the subjects that Krishna addresses in chapter 18 from verse 7 onwards.

Giving up acts of deceit is tamasig

Verse 7:

niyatasya tu sannyasah karmano nopapadyate mohat tasya parityagas tamasah parikirtitah

"Verily, it is wrong to forego binding acts; to give them up out of deception is considered tamasig."

This verse is about tamasic renunciation. Tyaga means renunciation. In one of the Upanishads it is said that only through Tyaga can one achieve immortality, through renunciation. But there are three types of waiver:

Here Krishna is saying not to do the actions that are actually your job and responsibility is tamasiges tyaga. That will not lead you to enlightenment. On the contrary, this leads you into delusion and into darkness. Simply not doing something because you don't feel like doing it, because it's too strenuous, because you forgot about it or are confused, all of this is tamasig. You have your duties and your duties. It has to be done. Not doing them is tamasig.

An example of tamasigen waiver is not infrequently found in non-profit organizations. Someone has taken responsibility and then says I'll hand it over. But he has no one to hand it over to and ultimately throws it at others' feet. That is tamasig. A task that you have taken on should also be carried out.

You can also add / further differentiate this. Krishna says here, if you give up something out of deception, for example because you think it is no longer my job, or you think I shouldn't do it anymore, but you have just made it up with yourself without talking to anyone else speak, then that is tamasic renunciation. Or you have the feeling that someone else no longer wants you to do something, but you don't follow up, so you give up out of deception, then that's also tamasic renunciation.

Giving up difficult actions is rajasic

Verse 8:

duhkham ity eva yat karma kaya-klesa-bhayat tyajet sa kritva rajasam tyagam naiva tyaga-phalam labhet

"Anyone who renounces actions out of fear of physical difficulties, because it is painful or exhausting, does not get the benefit that renunciation brings from such a rajasic renunciation."

This verse is about rajasic renunciation. If you fail to do something because it is too strenuous for you, it will not bring you any profit. Think about what your motive is when you give up something. Sometimes people pretend to be very spiritual and say, I'll pass it, I'll let it go, I'll give it up. And pretend it's spiritual. If you do without because it is exhausting or difficult, you have to go beyond your comfort zone, because you may have to surpass yourself in order to do justice to the task, it is not a positive renunciation. You don't get any profit from it, but shift your tasks to the future. By not doing your job, you even create negative karma. So what has to be done is what has to be done.

Carrying out duty without attachment is satiety

Karma Yoga: Selfless Service

Verse 9:

karyam ity eva yat karma niyatam kriyate ’rjuna sangam tyaktva phalam caiva sa tyagah sattviko matah

"Every duty is carried out, O Arjuna, for the sole reason that it must be done, and arrest and the desire for reward are given up; this renunciation is considered satiety."

This verse is about satiated renunciation. To do something, to be done without wanting anything in return, without being attached to it, is satiety. So if, for example, someone else can do something better than you, you give it up. Or if there is someone else who likes to do something just as much, you give it up. You can do something new, you can be creative in other ways. You are not under arrest. It also means that you are not attached to the way you like to do something. Often people say, 'If I can't do it the way I want, then I won't do it'. One has a lot to do with that, too, especially in non-profit organizations. They say, `` I'm committed, but only as I would like. And woe to anyone tell me how to do it differently ´. Then they don't feel like it anymore. You have to be able to deal with that. But you shouldn't be like that yourself, not attached to the way you would like to do it. Instead, think about how it's okay for everyone. And then renouncing the desire for wages, Krishna has often spoken about that. And that, he says in the end, is renunciation:

  • To do what the task is
  • to live up to one's responsibility
  • not wanting a reward for it
  • and not being attached to the way things are done.

The pure is neutral towards all tasks

Verse 10:

na dvesty akusalam karma kusale nanusajjate tyagi sattva-samavisto medhavi chinna-samsayah

"The renunciation, through whom purity flows, and who is wise and has no doubts, does not hate any unpleasant activity and is not attached to a pleasant one either."

So when you have practiced sattwiges tyaga, sattwige renunciation, then you go beyond raga and dvesha - liking and disliking. You don't want to do something because you don't like it. And you don't want to do something either because you like it. You are doing something that needs to be done. When you have practiced satiety in renunciation, you are ultimately happy. Why? You no longer have the idea that you are only happy when you do what you would like to do and you are no longer afraid of having to do something that you do not want to do. It is training of the mind over many years to be able to do what is to be done. Regardless of whether you like it or not.

In one of his first conversations with Swami Vishnu, he once said to Sukadev: "If you don't like something, do it until you like it." He added: "As long as it is ethical." That was very good advice and Sukadev went to great lengths to implement it. He learned to like a lot of things that he thought he didn't like.

Most people do it the other way around. They think about what they like and then do so when they can. And think about what they don't like and try to avoid it. That means bondage, bondage and is the source of unhappiness. Because you can't do everything you like and you are dependent on it. And you can't avoid everything you don't like either. But you can learn to like what to do. And one can learn to grow beyond not liking what to do. That is freedom then. And freedom plays a big role in yoga.

So if you practice pure renunciation and are clever at it, Krishna writes here, then you will not refuse any unpleasant activity and you will not be attached to a pleasant one either. You'll think more about what to do, and then you'll do it.

Forego the benefit of actions

Verse 11:

na hi deha-bhrta sakyam tyaktum karmany asesatah yas tu karma-phala-tyagi sa tyagity abhidhiyate

"Verily, it is not possible for an embodied being to renounce actions entirely; however, whoever renounces the benefits of actions is actually called a man of renunciation."

On a physical level, of course, you always have to do something. You have to eat, drink, walk around, go to sleep, you need a roof over your head, etc. This is a reason why renunciation cannot mean doing nothing. You have to feed the body. But renunciation is to forego the fruits of actions. Krishna emphasizes this again and again.

The triple fruit of karma

Verse 12:

anistam istam misram ca tri-vidham karmanah phalam bhavaty atyaginam pretya na tu sannyasinam kvacit

"The triple fruit of karma (desirable, undesirable, and mixed) arises after death to those who have not renounced, but never to those who have renounced."

If you have not renounced, you will experience things that are pleasant, things that are not pleasant and mixed up. For a yogi there is no such thing as positive and negative karma, there are only tasks.

  • So if your boss is rude, for example, it's not bad karma, it's your job to learn to deal with it.
  • If your car has a flat tomorrow, it won't be bad karma, but your job to grow with. * Even if you win the lottery the day after tomorrow, that is not a pleasant karma, but just as simply a task that you can grow with.

So when you are someone with the yogic mindset, you are not talking about good and bad karma, you are only talking about tasks.

A second interpretation of this verse is that if you do what to do without attachment and without desires, you will not create new karma. Desiring doing leads to new karma. So, for example, if you help someone to get something in return, that creates karma. If you get involved and hope for a reward, that creates karma. If you don't do something because you are afraid that you will be uncomfortable, you are creating new karma for yourself. If you don't do your duty, which is your job, you create new karma. So you create karma when you act out of raga and dvesha, out of like and dislike. If you do not act from these motives, you will not create new karma. And so renouncing the fruits of actions, renouncing reward, renouncing arrest and also a state of mind released from raga and dvesha are necessary in order to achieve liberation and ultimately to be happy in everyday life.

This lecture is part of the series on the Bhagavad Gita. You can find these verses, also with the word-for-word translation, in the book “Bhagavad Gita for People of Today” in bookshops or in the Yoga Vidya Shop.

All verses of the Bhagavad Gita in Devanagari, Sanskrit, German, word-for-word translation, several comments and many suggestions for practice can be found on the Yoga Vidya website.

Video - 3 Gunas and Renunciation - Bhagavad Gita

Here is a lecture on the topic 3 Gunas and renunciation, Commentary on verses 7-12 of the 18th chapter of the Bhagavadgita, by and with Sukadev Bretz from the series Yoga Vidya training, lectures on holistic yoga.

See also

More terms in the context of renunciation

Some terms that may not have anything to do with renunciation, but may be interesting, include Emotional Sheath, Hermitage, Dhimahi, Enlightening, Existentialism, Freedom.

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The verb renunciation can be viewed more closely from the point of view of Vedanta, spirituality, Hinduism, religion and serenity.