Once a sincere seeker asked an enlightened master, Bhagawan Sri Nithyananda Paramashivam: “Dear master, is it necessary to renounce the world to realize the self?”

Bhagawan replied: “To realize the self, there is only one thing you must be willing to renounce, that is ignorance.”

He explained that self-realization has nothing to do with renouncing the world. To run away from the world is just as bad as clinging on to it, in both cases, it is evident that the world is controlling your actions. Aversion to the world is as much a product of ignorance as attachment to it. They are just two sides of the same coin.

A person can live in a cave, in the mountains, and be obsessed with sansar (worldliness), while another can live in the world and yet to be completely detached from its pull and push. To take sannyas (renunciation) is not to renounce the world, but to renounce both attachment and aversion to the world. The very same life, when it is seen through the mist of ignorance is sansar and when it is seen in the clear light of self-awareness, becomes sannyas.

It is true, sannyasins (renunciates) always lead a simple life, untouched by sansar. But for them, the renouncing of attachment and aversion is not an effort at all. When self-realization awakens, renunciation happens naturally.

The first step towards sannyas is to become aware of your inner conflict between attachment and aversion. As you witness the conflict, you become aware that there is a core inside you that is beyond this conflict, a being that is completely unconcerned with the questions of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. This is your self, eternal and immutable. In the blaze of this awakening, all that is superfluous simply drops away like dead leaves from a tree. What remains is the completely essential – this is sannyas. True sannyas is to live like a lotus in a lake, perfectly at ease in the muddy water, but untouched and unsullied by it.

Here is a small story.

A master and his disciple were on their way from one village to the next. At the border of the village flowed a shallow stream, which they usually crossed by wading through it.

This time, they discovered that due to heavy rain, the stream had swollen into a small river, which was too deep to wade across to the other side.

The disciple was alarmed and asked the master:” Should we attempt to cross this river, master?”

Replied the master with a twinkle in his eyes:” Certainly you should cross the river, my child. Just remember not to get your feet wet!”

This is the true meaning of sannyas. When you can cross the river of sansar, but the sansar can no longer wet you, you have found sannyas.”  

What a beautiful answer to a common question by Swamiji! Fundamentally, all forms of attachment and aversion are nothing but the ignorance of our true Self. That is why we need to awaken the fire of seeking within us – seeking of the true Self. The moment a Guru (a dispeller of darkness) appears in our lives, he awakens the inner light of each being, then wherever an awakened individual may be, he or she lives like a sannyasi (renunciate), totally untouched by the sansar. Namaste 😀

Article taken from “Uncommon answers to common questions” by Bhagawan Sri Nithyananda Paramashivam