Renunciation is not for deprivation but for connection and satisfaction
Many people see renunciation negatively, as deprivation of enjoyable things.
However, a dramatically different picture emerges if we shift our focus from the practice of renunciation to its purpose. For example, though a diabetic patient feels deprived when told to abstain from sugar, the purpose of such abstinence is positive: the recovery of health.
Similarly, when seen in isolation, the practice of renunciation seems like deprivation. But when seen in the light of its purpose, renunciation is revealed as the foundation for spiritual connection and devotional satisfaction. Renunciation of anti-devotional pleasures helps us rise from the material level of consciousness to the spiritual level to realize who we are and whose we are.
The Bhagavad-gita (15.07) states that we all are parts of Krishna. When in material existence, we eternal spiritual beings become disconnected from him, being allured by our senses. Thus tempted, we subject ourselves to struggle, slaving in vain to get worldly pleasures that neither stay nor satisfy.
Still, as long as we are in material consciousness, renunciation feels like deprivation – without sense objects, we feel as if we are starving (02.59). When that feeling of deprivation becomes intolerable, we relapse, even against our discrimination and determination (02.60).
The next verse (02.61) stresses how we can sustain our renunciation: by focusing on Krishna, by connecting with him internally through our consciousness, we relish sublime spiritual satisfaction. For those thus connected and satisfied, renunciation doesn’t at all seem like deprivation; to the contrary, the lack of renunciation and the concomitant obsession with the material seems like deprivation of the spiritual.
When we shift our focus from what we are turning away from to what we are turning towards, we will find the feeling of deprivation gradually replaced by a sense of reassuring divine connection and a fulfilling sublime satisfaction.
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