Renunciation, Detachment and Letting Go

I've been thinking a lot about renunciation and detachment, and the process of letting go...

Such things are never easy, and I wonder if they are ever fully learned, because they seem to arise as lessons we must re-visit over and over again...

I attended a book club this weekend, and the selection chosen was Ram Dass' Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita. I realize now, I was meant to read this book, because of some very specific lessons...

I'll start off by saying that I've never been particularly drawn to Ram Dass or his writings, and I only heard him speak once, about six years ago. And while some parts of this book are genuinely dated, and stem from a series of lectures he delivered on the Gita in the seventies, there were still some parts that spoke to me, and to a number of things that I have been reflecting on these last few weeks...

So, I have chosen to note some of these passages here. I could write a dissertation on each one of these passages - and on the notions of sacrifice, detachment, letting go, and renunciation, from a personal, philosophical, and theological perspective. Something inside me is itching to do so, but this post would become much longer than I intend. Instead, I choose to copy some profoundly relevant and insightful parts, so that it may speak to you on whatever level you are meant to hear...

"The Gita says 'offer, as a sacrifice [your] own soul in the fire of God.' Now we're exploring a new possibility - the possibility that the sacrifice is not of some object, but of ourselves...

What desire do we use to give up desires? We use the desire to offer it all in sacrifice. All of it, even the desire to make the sacrifice, becomes the sacrificial offering...

Yoga is sacrifice...Krishna refers to that. 'Know that sacrifice is holy work, but greater than any earthly sacrifice is the sacrifice of sacred wisdom, for wisdom is in truth the end of all holy work. You learn it all, and then you offer it all up...

The act of creation is always an act of sacrifice. It's a sacrifice for the One to give up its Oneness and become the many...Sacrifice awakens us to the fact that we are part of a process, part of a divine play...

But you know, you really don't have to worry about whether everybody else is doing it or not. You just begin to get your own house in order...

How about suffering? Are you offering your suffering to God? Another thing that people must sacrifice is their suffering. Nothing can be attained without suffering, but at the same time one must begin by sacrificing suffering. As that happens, a shift takes place inside of you. You begin to see your suffering as grace...

Renunciation is related in a certain way to sacrifice; they are acts of purification, designed to cut us loose from the tie that binds us to the worldly realms...

Practices of purification are essentially techniques for putting ourselves in a position where we are prepared to experience direct, first hand knowledge of the [Divine]...Gita: 'For the man who forsakes all desires, and abandons all pride of possession and self, reaches the goal of peace supreme...'

The attraction of our senses is what keeps us stuck, and the process that the Gita seems to be recommending here is to renounce the senses...

We find we have to keep living in the marketplace until we learn how to transmute its energies - all its energies...

We are chained by the chain of our possessions. Possessions can be emotional, or intellectual as well...

In time, we begin to see the way the bonds of our attachments, be they physical or intellectual or emotional ones, are keeping us from something we want much more than we want the stuff we are attached to. That's when we start to see the appeal of reducing both our physical and our psychological possessions, to bring a kind of clean simplicity into our lives...

We may want to examine our relationship to all the stuff in our lives, to see if there are places where we want to let go of some of our clingings. The Ashtavakra Gita says, 'The sage, who has no attachment, does not suffer, even in the world...'"

Reflect on these passages as I have. Break them open. Let them become food for you soul, and let them unlock any needed insights in this moment - the only moment there is...

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