The eternal process of give and take

The word renunciation generally has a negative tone, an other worldy connotation. Most people associate renunciation with a lack of interest and enthusiasm in life. Some even call it as an escape door from the realities of everyday life. Renunciation could also frighten many, on account of its close relationship with formal monastic life. As monastic vocation is not possible for burgeoning millions - they would rather enjoy than give up. Renunciation is rarely understood or seriously reflected upon in its true sense.

The question is this: Is renunciation necessary? Swami Vivekananda considered renunciation as one of India's national ideals, the other being Service. Can renunciation be considered India's national ideal? This requires a clearer understanding of the word.

The word Renunciation is a noun; its verb being 'to renounce', which means to give up. 'Give and Take' is the very nature of life. We are all part of a mighty process of 'Give and Take'. Sun takes up water from the oceans, rivers and ponds, only to give it back as rain. Earth takes up rain, only to return it by growing food grains, and greening the forests. Within the society, when this cycle of 'Give and Take' is distributed, social unrest and anguish are born. When a person hoards more than what he needs, he begins on a journey of frustration and increasing insecurity. Without this' Give and Take' principle, no life is possible. In order to become a youth, for instance, one has to let go his immature aberrations if he has to grow into a mature, stable personality. 'Give and Take' in life is so commonplace that hardly anyone pays attention to it. One cannot have one's say in everything one gets in life; we have to give in something. When we do not understand this, we become miserable.

People are afraid of renunciation because they think that what they should renounce is more valuable than what they will gain in its place. Their present possessions are more real to them; renunciation only promises something imaginary. The story is told of a King who once visited a Saint. The King profusely praised and admired the Saint for his renunciation. The King expressed that the Saint was indeed great, for having given up all claims to possessions, power and pelf. The Saint, bemused at the King's unwarranted praise, responded by saying, "O King! Your renunciation is greater than mine. I have renounced the 'World' which is after all impermanent and changing, whereas you have given up God himself, the One Source of eternal well being and bliss in life!" How true!

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