Question: Is it necessary to follow a life of renunciation?

Sri Chinmoy: Renunciation is a complicated term. We have to know what we are planning to renounce. If we mean that we are going to renounce our imperfection, limitation and ignorance, then I will say, yes, we do have to follow a life of renunciation. We have to renounce the things that are binding us. But if we mean that we are going to renounce the world and retire into a cave to try to realise God, then I will say, no, that kind of renunciation we do not need. Leading a very care-free life will not offer us God-realisation. We must renounce imperfection, obscurity and limitation. But if we say that we have to renounce our family, our jobs and all our responsibilities, then we are making a terrible mistake. God is in our near and dear ones, too.

We may think, "By praying to the God who is inside my dear ones, how am I going to realise the God who is all-pervading?" So today we may renounce our parents and the members of our family, and tomorrow we may enter into the Himalayan caves. But there we shall have to try to renounce our stupid mind. We have left our home, our parents and children, our jobs, the world, but our mind is still thinking of them: "What are they eating? Are they thinking of me? I was so cruel to leave them, I wonder if they are suffering." Geographically we can easily get away from these things, but mentally and emotionally we are still caught. We are bound to them as closely as ever. In the spiritual life when we renounce, we renounce our ignorance. But there comes a time when we realise that even ignorance we do not actually renounce, we transform it. Right now we are caught by ignorance; we are victims of ignorance. Ignorance is kicking us like a football, and sometimes, while we are being kicked, we are consciously cherishing ignorance. But eventually we shall catch ignorance. A day will come when knowledge will dawn in us and we will feel that ignorance is like a thief stealing away all our inner wealth. Then we will try to catch ignorance and threaten it. And soon we will come to feel that, rather than threatening ignorance, if we can flood it with light, it will no longer want to commit any mischief. Then our physical consciousness, our earth-bound consciousness, will not make any more mistakes.

To come back to your question, we have to know what we are renouncing. If we want to renounce ignorance, that is absolutely necessary. But we need not renounce our near and dear ones and enter into the Himalayan caves to realise God. That is absurd. Again, when real renunciation takes place, we have to feel that we do not renounce, we just transform. We transform night into day, impurity into purity, ignorance into wisdom, death into Immortality. We do not renounce; we just transform everything through our conscious, inseparable oneness with God's Light.