Why Renunciation is Prescribed for Seekers of Truth?
Summary: This essay explores the importance of being yourself and seeing things clearly as they are
Try to speak truth for a whole day and see what happens. You will be considered a troll and shut down by many from their communication channels. You will be regarded as a trouble maker, or a dangerous person. People are comfortable with their illusions. If you try to rupture them, you will invite trouble. Therefore, for most of us truth is what is socially acceptable and justifiable rather than what is true.
Being yourself is the first step to be true to yourself. It is an important step in your self-transformation and inner purity. Not many people can practice it, for the same reason as stated before. They cannot alienate people by speaking truth or being truthful. Even the most powerful people on earth have to play to the gallery and act according to their hopes and aspirations rather than the reality of the situation.
The world loves myths, not truths. If it is not so, most people who are admired and remembered in history will not be there. Studies in human psychology show that human beings may rewrite their memories to feel comfortable with themselves and avoid unpleasant memories. Our survival instinct tells us how to get on well with the world and avoid conflicts to regulate our relationships. People know instinctively that they cannot be likable or friendly with others without wearing masks and using politically correct language. For their peace of mind and yours they know that it is better to tell you what you like to hear rather than what they need to say. They embrace your idea of truth rather than theirs because they need your love and friendship rather than your anger and vengeance. Therefore, the freedom to be themselves and truthful remains a distant ideal for many and comes to them at a great price.
Being yourself means you have to be your authentic self and speak from your heart how you feel or what you feel about yourself and the world. It is being honest in your thinking and judgment seeing things as they are, without the distortion of your mind. It is to avoid self-deception and know truthfully what you feel and think. You cannot do it unless you remove the delusions that you build in your mind to create the narrative that suits you but does not really represent you. It may address your fears or your needs, but not the truth of your being.
Knowing yourself is an important part of being yourself. Unless you truly know your feelings and emotions, how can you know who you are? To know yourself truly, you must learn to see things as they are. You must become an impartial observer so that you can see the logical fallacies and irrational beliefs that interfere with your perception and understanding. Paying attention to your own behavior and thinking gives you an opportunity to become familiar with your ego and its behavior, or how it creates an alternate reality to ensure your survival and wellbeing in a world of egos.
The world is a major distraction in your quest for truth, while the mind with which you perceive it is like a nebulous prism. Your perceptions are therefore rarely free from distortions. In your dealings with the world, you are mostly guided by your fears and concerns or your need for security, approval, and belongingness rather than truth, which is why many relationships in your life are built on weak foundation and do not stand the test of truth or trust.
The problem is not because you are inherently weak. It is because the world puts so much pressure on you to confirm to its standards and values. When you live amidst people, you cannot be true to yourself and others, without hurting them or creating enmity or misunderstanding. It is also why spiritual life is so difficult to pursue and why not many people can abide by the instructions that are mentioned in our scriptures for self-purification. People love myths and illusions rather than reality. Therefore, they will not like anyone who wants to snap those balloons of illusions with which they decorate their lives.
If you want to practice deeper awareness, objectivity, and mindful observation, you must find opportunities to spend time with yourself and develop the courage to accept truths about yourself. Spend few quite moments each day for introspection and confront your own illusions, self-deception and mental distortions, as if you are taking a mental bath to cleanse the impurities of your mind that accumulate each day through your public persona. It is the best approach when you cannot renounce the world or live in isolation.
Our scriptures prescribe renunciation and the need to live in isolation because they are aware of the corrupting influence of the world upon your thinking and behavior. They know that you cannot practice truthfulness or any of the Yamas (restraints) and Niyamas (observations) that are mentioned in our scriptures without upsetting your life or your peace of mind.
In today’s world, everyone cannot practice renunciation or go to a forest to live in isolation. Therefore, for them the best alternative is to find time to be alone, and practice detachment, mindfulness, introspection, and discernment to know themselves better and be honest with themselves. Those few moments they spend alone, reviewing their actions, will do them immense good to be self-aware, realistic, alert, and smart. If you cannot be truthful to others, at least be so to yourself, the one person who matters most in your life.
Suggestions for Further Reading
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