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Discrimination and Renunciation

Discrimination and renunciation (dispassion) are English equivalents for viveka and vairagya respectively. These are usually taken together because of their close inter-relatedness. These are two major requisites that make us fit to control the mind-stuff. In reply to a question by Arjuna as to how the wavering mind could be controlled, Lord Krishna replies that, O' Arjuna, by renunciation and repeated practice alone this wavering mind can be controlled, albeit, with great difficulty (Gita VI: 34-35).

For the welfare of modern man, Sri Ramakrishna has defined these words most succinctly,

"Discrimination and renunciation. Discrimination means to know the distinction between the Real and unreal. Renunciation means to have dispassion for the things of the world. One cannot acquire them all of a sudden. They must be practised every day. One should renounce 'woman and gold' mentally first. Then, by the will of God, one can renounce it both mentally and outwardly."

He has also emphasized the need to undertake practice of discrimination and renunciation for spiritual growth. Says he, "You must practise discrimination. 'Woman and gold' is impermanent. God is the only Eternal Substance. What does a man get with money? Food, clothes, and a dwelling-place--nothing more. You cannot realize God with its help. Therefore money can never be goal of life. That is the process of discrimination. Do you understand?"

The question arises: what is the result of discrimination? How do we know or judge whether we are on the correct path? The test of discrimination lies in our ability to renounce whatever we have discriminated as transient or false. This ability to 'give up' is the touchstone to gauge the sincerity of discriminatory attempt. Thus we see that discrimination and dispassion go hand in hand. If we can't give up what we have discriminated as illusory, the attempt would be mere dry intellectualism that will not bear the fruit of spiritual realization.

The third element that is imperceptibly added to viveka and vairagya is love--anuraga--for God. This third factor is the cause as well as the effect of the first two. Devotion to God leads to discrimination and renunciation, and practice of discrimination and renunciation, in turn, makes love for God manifest in aspirant's heart.

The practical application of this concept in our life makes us more cultured and civilized. We learn to imbibe higher and finer value-system in our lives.

There are many levels of truth. These we call relative truths. For instance, some people are mostly interested in sense enjoyment alone -bodily pleasure. For such people 'lust and gold' are very important for enjoyment in life.

Many others do not care about this, but they are involved or engaged in pursuit of excellence in science, art or literature, etc. Such persons enjoy mental pleasure and strive to excel in the pursuit of intellectual achievements. For them intellectual development is truth, which scores over body-comforts. With discrimination, they seem to have renounced sense enjoyment in favour of intellectual pleasure.

Sri Ramakrishna advocates us to rise above these two relative enjoyments and try to seek still higher bliss--spiritual pleasure--of reaching the super-conscious state, which he terms as God-realization. For this it is essential to renounce the first two pleasures with due discrimination. They are false, illusory or transient as they are born out of ignorance, and come in way of attaining the highest bliss of spiritual realization.

All the three pleasures are functions of mind. By regular sadhana (spiritual practice), one can control the mind and transcend each level to get established in the next higher realm of bliss. Ultimately, with the practice of viveka and vairagya, one may realize the most blissful nature of super-consciousness, the Atman.
C S Shah

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