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Renouncing the Ego
Q: Only those who have renounced their ego-mind have truly renounced. What have all the others, who may have given up other things, really renounced?

Bhagavaan: By becoming the source of all desires, the ego is the doorway to the sorrow of Sansaar. The extremely heroic and discriminating person first attains through dispassion the total renunciation of desires that arise in the form of "I want". Subsequently, through the Selfward enquiry "Who am I?", he renounces that ego, leaving no trace of it, and attains the bliss of peace, free from anxieties. This is the supreme benefit of Dharm.

Renouncing Desires
Q: What is the best way of dealing with desires, with a view to getting rid of them – satisfying them or suppressing them?

Bhagavaan: If a desire can be got rid of by satisfying it, there will be no harm in satisfying such a desire. But desires generally are not eradicated by satisfaction. Trying to root them out that way is like pouring spirits to quench fire. At the same time, the proper remedy is not forcible suppression, since such repression is bound to react sooner or later into forceful surging up with undesirable consequences. The proper way to get rid of a desire is to find out, "Who gets the desire? What is its source?" When this is found, the desire is rooted out and it will never again emerge or grow. Small desires such as the desire to eat, drink and sleep and attend to calls of nature, though these may also be classed among desires, you can safely satisfy them. They will not implant Vaasanaa in your mind, necessitating further birth. These activities are just necessary to carry on life and are not likely to develop or leave behind Vaasanaa or tendencies. As a general rule, therefore, there is no harm in satisfying a desire where the satisfaction will not lead to further desires by creating Vaasanaa in the mind. (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 12th April, 1946)

Q: How am I to deal with my passions? Am I to check them or satisfy them? If I follow Bhagavaan’s method and ask, "To whom are these passions?" they do not seem to die but grow stronger.
Bhagavaan: Satisfying desires and thereby trying to root them out is like trying to quench fire by pouring kerosene oil over it. The only way is to find the root of desire and thus remove it. (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 2nd January, 1946)

Question: How can they (desires) be rendered weaker?
Bhagavan: By knowledge. You know that you are not the mind. The desires are in the mind. Such knowledge helps one to control them.

Question: But they are not controlled in our practical lives.
Bhagavan: Every time you attempt satisfaction of a desire the knowledge comes that it is better to desist. What is your true nature? How can you ever forget it? Waking, dream and sleep are mere phases of the mind. They are not of the Self. You are the witness of these states. Your true nature is found in sleep. (Day by Day with Bhagavan, 12th April, 1946)

Bhagavan: There is room for Kaam (desire) so long as there is an object apart from the subject, ie, duality. There can be no desire if there is no object. The state of no-desire is Moksh. There is no duality in sleep and also no desire. Whereas there is duality in the waking state and desire also is there. Because of duality a desire arises from the acquisition of the object. That is the outgoing mind, which is the basis of duality and of desire. If one knows that bliss is none other than the Self the mind becomes inward turned. If the Self is gained all the desires are fulfilled. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 502)

Renunciation of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’
Internal renunciation’ is renunciation of the ego whereas "external renunciation" is giving up possessions. Together they are known as giving up ‘I’ and ‘mine’. It is the former that results in enlightenment. If you attain perfect mastery over internal renunciation, external renunciation will have no importance. (Padamalai, p. 170, v. 102)

Bhagavaan sometimes illustrated the superiority of inner over outer renunciation by telling the story of King Shikhidhwaj who unnecessarily gave up his kingdom and retired to the forest to seek enlightenment: He [the king] had Vairaagya [non-attachment] even while ruling his kingdom and could have realized the Self if he had only pushed his Vairagya to the point of killing the ego. He did not do it but came to the forest, had a timetable of Tapas and yet did not improve even after eighteen years of Tapas. He had made himself a victim of his own creation. Chudala [his enlightened wife] advised him to give up the ego and realize the Self, which he did and was liberated. It is clear from Chudala’s story that Vairagya accompanied by ego is of no value, whereas all possessions in the absence of ego do not matter. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 404)

Abandon your mind unconditionally at the feet of him [Shiv] who shares his form with the Lady [Uma]. Then, as the ‘I’ that investigates the false, dies away, along with [the concept of] ‘mine’, the powerful Supreme Self will unfold fully and flourish eternally. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv. 484, 487)

Renouncing the "I am the body" idea
Question: Why cannot the Self be perceived directly?

Bhagavan: Only the Self is said to be directly perceived (Pratyaksh). Nothing else is said to be Pratyaksh. Although we are having this Pratyaksh, the thought "I am this body" is veiling it. If we give up this thought, the Aatmaa, which is always within the direct experience of everyone, will shine forth. (Living by the Words of Bhagavan, 2nd ed., pp. 218-19)

Here is a sequence of verses from Guru Vachaka Kovai that covers this important aspect of renunciation:

34: The world that associates with us as an appearance of names and forms is as transient as a lightning flash. The faltering understanding ‘I am the body’ is the deceptive device that makes us desire the world as if it were real, [thereby] entrapping us instantaneously in the powerful snare of bondage.

846: Be aware that the "I am the body" ego is truly the one unique cause of all the sorrows of Sansaar. Therefore, make genuine, firm and steady efforts to destroy that ego, and desist from making any other kind of effort.

Renouncing the "I am the doer" idea
According to Bhagavan, it is not actions themselves that should be given up, but the inner feeling that one is doing them: If total cessation from activity is alone the determining criterion for Gyaan, then even the inability to act because of leprosy will be a sure indication of Gyaan. You should know that the state of Gyaan is the exalted state of remaining without any sense of responsibility in the heart, having renounced both the attraction to, and the revulsion from, the performance of actions. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 1160)

Unless one’s connection with individuality is destroyed at its root, one will not become a true Gyaanee, free of the sense of doership [Kartratwa]. Even if one attains a supreme and eminent state of Tapas that can be marveled at, one is still only a Saadhak who is qualified to realize the truth. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 122)

Deeds [Karm] are not your enemy, only the sense of doership [Kartratwa] is. Therefore, live your life, having completely renounced that enemy. (Padamalai p. 171, vv. 106, 107)

A mind that has dissolved in the state of God, and ceased to exist, will not be aware of any activity that needs to be performed because when the ego, which has the idea that it is the performer of actions, has been completely destroyed, the idea that something needs to be accomplished ends.

Praarabdh, like a whirlwind, relentlessly agitates and spins the mind that has shrunk through the "I am the body" idea. However, it cannot stir, even slightly, the limitation-free mind that shines as the extremely clear space of being-consciousness when that ego-impurity [the "I am the body" idea] is destroyed by self-enquiry. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, vv. 703, 698)

Sankalp [thought] creates the world. The peace attained on the destruction of Sankalp is the [permanent] destruction of the world. (Padamalai, p. 264, v. 6)

The world is seen distinctly only in the waking and dream states in which Sankalp [thoughts] have emerged. Is it ever seen during sleep, where Sankalp do not emerge even slightly? Sankalp alone are the material substance of the world. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, v. 29)

Instead of ruining yourself by clinging, as your refuge, to the utterly false world that appears as a conjuring trick, it is wise to renounce it in the mind and remain still, forgetting it and remaining detached from it, like the ripe tamarind fruit that, despite remaining inside its pod, stays separate from it. (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 825)

Q: Should not a man renounce everything in order that he might get liberation?
Bhagavan: Even better than the man who thinks "I have renounced everything" is the one who does his duty but does not think "I do this" or "I am the doer". Even a Sanyaasee who thinks "I am a Sanyaasee" cannot be a true Sanyaasee, whereas a householder who does not think "I am a householder" is truly a Sanyaasee. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 530)

Know that not regarding oneself erroneously as being limited to the body and trapped in family bonds is a far superior renunciation to the state wherein one thinks repeatedly within one’s mind: "I have truly extricated myself by renouncing all the ties of this world." (Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 840)

Muruganar made the following comments on this Guru Vachaka Kovai verse:
"Thinking, "I am a person who has renounced" is only mental imagination. The state of truth transcends such imagination. Only the state of remaining still, which is the natural state, is true Sanyaas, the nature of liberation. It is not thinking repeatedly, "I am someone who has renounced Sansaar". Therefore, not thinking is a far superior renunciation to thinking. Like the thought, "I am caught in bondage", the thought, "I am one who is free from bondage" indicates the delusion of regarding yourself as being limited to the body. When that delusion is destroyed, along with it, both of these thoughts will cease. Unless the ‘I am the body’ belief is present to some extent, there can be no possibility of having the thought, "I have renounced".


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/9/09
Updated on 10/18/12