Is there really any topic whatsoever, that one can write about, after reading Ramesh Balsekar’s words: “Truth must be apperceived; it becomes a concept when given expression to”?
Notwithstanding Balsekar’s wisdom, the subject of what takes precedence: renunciation or relinquishment, is far too important to be brushed off, particularly when many spiritual seekers endure daily frustration with their (perceived) slow spiritual progress, and most of them wouldn’t actually understand, let alone experience apperception at their practice.
Although the concepts of renouncement and relinquishment exist in many religions, it appears that Hinduism set out the best definitions and practice standards.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna describes Sannyasa (the order of life of the renouncer within the Hindu scheme of asramas) as follows:
“The giving up of activities that are based on material desire is what great learned men call the renounced order of life [Sannyasa]. And giving up the results of all activities is what the wise call renunciation [Tyaga].” (18.2)
According to Sanskrit and Indic scholar Barbara Stoler Miller, chapter 18, verse 2 translates as follows:
“Giving up actions based on desire, the poets know as renunciation; relinquishing all fruit of action, learned men call relinquishment.”
Whilst no being in the flesh can give up all actions, their fruits can be relinquished.
In Hinduism, Sannyasa is to give up the actions which fulfil your desires; Tyaga is to give up the fruit of your action.
For example: purifying actions like yagnya, austerity and charity should not be given up; but attachment to them and to the fruit thereof should be given up.
Put simply, to renounce means to give up all desire-based action; to relinquish means having an action (without being attached to it) but giving away its fruits, juices, etc.
It becomes quite clear by now that relinquishment is more difficult to practice than renunciation.
Why? Because in the former the fruits of your labor are right in front of you, ready to be consumed, and you have to say No! no matter how tempting and deserved they are.
Not surprisingly Stoler Miller concluded: “Disciplined action and relinquishment are spiritually more effective than renunciation.”
How to practice relinquishment, when it appears to be such a challenging idea? Relax, when it comes into your field of spiritual vision, you will be ready to embrace it, rather than run away from it.
It will be at the stage when you want to live true spirituality, rather than learn it. Whilst every spiritual seeker has to face the choice of having it all or rejecting it all, the liberated one has it so much easier – he sees no choices, for he is choiceless.
All is as the perception has it, complete and perfect. In this world of illusion and ignorance, this is the “reward” awaiting a relinquisher… Yet true to his word, he will relinquish it.