What is Renunciation?



I am struggling to live without longing for monastic life. I find the mundanity of worldly careers and spirit-less education pointless. The thing is that I am married with three children and I need to provide, so this makes me feel like a somewhat renounced life is impossible if I have to spend my time working in a soul-crushing job. I try to put passion and purpose into it but it’s really difficult. What guidance would the spiritual teachers provide in this case?

—Steven (25), USA


Dear Steven,

Married with three children and a soul-less job! Why of course you are pining away for the monastic life! As a man who once studied for the priesthood but then married, raised two children who now have children of their own, I know exactly what you mean. And so I have, therefore, seen many other men who, wearied of married or family or career life, have similarly wished for freedom from drudgery and karmic bondage!

Well, probably you have been a monastic in some prior life. But remember: “the grass is greener on the other side!” I urge you to “let it go!” God (meaning “joy”) MUST come to you where you ARE if you open your heart to His love, presence and guidance. We MUST work out our karma with calmness and equanimity, accepting our duties not as drudgery but as a gift of our own soul’s salvation towards ultimate Bliss.

Yes, I know, words of “tough love!” No one ever said “sainthood is for sissies!” Love your children, wife, and work NOT for their own sakes (as all things and people are imperfect, as we are too) but as God incarnated into human form to help you work out your karma and guide you to inner peace, joy and finally transcendent liberation. There’s no other way out: “the only way OUT is IN!” “The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” The light of God’s presence, wisdom and joy is always there for those who seek it within with eyes (the “third eye”) to see.

Do you meditate daily? Even a little bit? Have you been taught a good technique? Do you read inspirational material? Autobiography of a Yogi? A tough but excellent read is Sister Gyanamata’s GOD ALONE! Letters of counsel to truthseekers and devotees. She prayed to the effect, “Don’t change my circumstances, change me!”

Do you have company with others of like mind to meditate with? To serve together with? Study?” An excellent way to start the day and carry on in this way is with GRATITUDE! See if at work, e.g., you can silent be like a beacon of light through shining through your smile; pouring out equanimity through calmness; joy through willingness. Transform your work environment into a temple. Every where the light can be found.

Life is a call to arms, not a Sunday picnic. Be a peaceful warrior of wisdom, faith, and joy, serving all who surround you as you would serve God incarnate, for “Thou, too, art THAT!”


Nayaswami Hriman