by a Friend of Truth
Spiritual progress is said to go along with renunciation, but what reward can we expect from that? What is renunciation and what are the things we should renounce? What does it mean to “renounce the world”? What is so bad about the “world,” which is, after all, God’s own creation?
In everyday life, we can observe that all success requires renunciation: We have to give up pleasurable things we could enjoy now so that we can get something even more pleasurable later. For example, investing money instead of spending it is a form of renunciation. Some people push this principle to an extreme and never come to enjoy their wealth, simply because they had been reinvesting their profit again and again throughout their entire life.
“Spiritual renunciation” is the logical conclusion drawn from this observation. Instead of looking at what feels good now, we try to widen our horizon and ask what will be good later, when I am no more. In other words, what will be good for others? What is good from God’s perspective of eternity? In contrast to a greedy miser, however, we try to get a higher form of happiness, we do not want to get just more money, but a pleasure greater than the one money can give: Instead of reinvesting his first billion into some new enterprise, the successful business man might support a charitable organisation.
So, we have to analyse what types of pleasure there are in our life and then renounce the lower forms for the sake of the higher ones. How do we know what is “higher” and what is “lower”? The objects of higher forms are more and more difficult to measure and to “see” (the measuring container used for milk and money cannot be used for love) but more and more easy to share (if I share my money I’ll have less; if I share love there is no such decline). For humans, economic success gives a higher form of pleasure than physical joy, fame is worth more than money, knowledge is superior to fame and wisdom explains more than knowledge. God/love is the culmination of all, object of "pleasure" and "pleasure" are one, the highest form of bliss.
But just as a miser can waste his life without wasting a single penny, there is also a risk for the spiritual seeker. If one renounces the world out of disgust, it will be hard to develop love for its Creator. Instead of carefully sifting the world and offering the gold nuggets to God, such an aspirant throws everything at God's face - having renounced everything but his own pride, such a spiritual aspirant has fallen prey to the world of shadows he wanted to leave behind.