But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. ~Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew 6:33~
This beautiful verse from the Gospels encapsulate the essence of what renunciation, of what it means to be on the spiritual path with one’s entire being truly is. The search for God, the search for Truth (or whichever word one wishes to substitute in) is one that requires one pointed focus and determination. It is understood that when our lives are properly organized, namely, when God is the sole focus and goal of our lives, everything else that we may need to achieve this goal will also come on to us.
For being material entities living in a material world, there will be certain necessities that one simply cannot live without. The important thing to keep in mind, though, is that we are not to place so much focus and emphasis on those necessities, but solely to keep our attention and focus on the one true goal of this life; complete unification with God.
To illustrate this point, imagine taking a train from New York to Los Angeles. In taking this train, we are not simply going to board in New York and instantly arrive in Los Angeles, instead we will pass through many cities and states along the way. And during this journey, we will meet certain people who will not stay with us for the entire journey, and we will meet others who will. Food and beverages will be served. Essentially, everything that is needed for us to arrive at our destination as comfortably and as safely as possible is provided to us just by taking the journey itself. Yet, what needs to be kept in mind is that this only works as long as we stay aboard the train. For it may be possible that during the course of our journey we meet someone who will suggest to us to get off with them at a certain stop. And although we are at liberty to do so, we are only prolonging our goal and essentially saying that there may be things and experiences that are more important to me than simply reuniting with the source of all creation. And if that is your position, you must be honest about it. For whatever your goal is in life, you will be provided for. God does not solely provide for those who only seek Him, but He provides for all His children.
True renunciation, true entrance into the God towards Divine union is not merely about putting on outward signs such as robes and a shaven head, or even moving into a temple or monastery—although beautiful and profound practices for those who the Lord has called to walk and be an example for others to walk such a path. True renunciation is to put on and take up the inward signs—cloaking the heart with the inner robes of renunciation. It is easy to put on the outward signs of spiritual life, yet wearing the inner signs, the ones those on the outside will not immediately be able to see, is the true expression of the one who seeks nothing but the Lord.
Times have drastically changed, and the necessity for certain outward signs of spiritual life are no longer as prominent as the Lord once deemed it to be so. For unfortunately—and this is by no means a criticism or a statement that formal renunciation is not useful, for it is still immensely beautiful and if someone feels drawn to such a life I can only give my full recommendation and encourage—mere outward renunciation nowadays does not come with the same level of intensity that it once carried in ancient times. For to seek the Lord and nothing else was to first and foremost enter into a state of pure trust and innocence. To leave all behind and seek the Truth of this existence was to literally put everything on the line, even one’s mortal embodied life. For the path of renunciation in ancient times was a path where the next moment itself was not guaranteed. The horrors and dangers of the world have become more real than ever before. No home. No place to stay. No constant supply of food. No constant supply of materials. And a constant living with true dangers. Wild animals, sickness, the possibility of starvation and all the more the prospect of not even finding a master to guide you or even knowing if you will attain your desired goal. To renounce was to literally place your life in God’s hands. To live, with every ounce of your being the prayer: Thy Will Be Done.
Yet, unfortunately in today’s world of ashrams and monstatery, this intensity and this urgency to discover the Truth of this existence has diminished for not longer are the outside threats as potent. No longer will there be an absence of food and shelter. And the amount of respect and honor so many on a formal renunciant path receive for many have only s their sense strengthen of individual I as opposed to helping them see through it. With this turn of the tides of time in place the Lord has begun to emphasise another method towards His eternal abode: Inner Renunciation.
The cloake the heart in the traditional ochre color of renunciation, to inwardly live for God and God alone amidst the bells and whistles of daily life. To embody the Divine imagery of the Lotus Flower, which grows from muddy water yet remains untouched by it, throughout every fiber of your being. This is one of the avenues to the Lord presented by the Lord for our current age.