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Fear and Renunciation
"Life after death" -- we say that tongue in cheek because faith in God is nothing to argue about. As Holy Mother said, "Is Brahman a topic for conversation, like bartering for fish and greens in the marketplace?"
People's fear comes from brooding on death, which is nothing but fear of losing objects. But only one thing is fearless: renunciation. Renounce the sense of agency and ownership and live free.
There is a great opportunity to practice kriya shuddhi (purity of act) here (prison
) because you have to practice amongst all kinds of people: fierce, cruel, deluded, good-hearted, falsely blamed.
If you see the world as unreal you might as well renounce it. Get it over with. Until you do this, you can't enter real spiritual life. Austerity is needed.
The devout Hindu performs worship, salutes the sun, etc., before starting the work day. The modern man rushes to work without ever seeing the sun, and never thinks of God.
Yes, you can renounce your whole family and still live with them, but "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." Just follow the "1" rule. Put a "1" (God
) before the zeros. Spouse, wealth, etc., are all empty.
Really, it is not so much a matter of world negation, but of Brahman affirmation. So, what are we "x"-ing out of the equation? Suffering. You negate the unreal. If you've created a rift between God and yourself, that is what you have to renounce.
As Vedantists we want to negate the profane in preference to the sacred. But the profane for the Western Christian is evil, while for the Vedantist the profane is worldliness. Christ was a renunciate.
The Seers divided Reality into two: nirguna and saguna; pravrtti and nirvrtti. Nirguna means Brahman without attributes, and saguna means Brahman with attributes, the worlds of name and form. Pravrtti means that which leads the mind outward, creating vibrations, and nirvrtti is that which leads it inward, quelling the vibrations of mind.
We constantly live in denial of Brahman rather than exercising a denial of what is changing, as if changes were real. Renounce any world that is separate from Brahman and you will be fine. Then you will find all the worlds in Brahman, thus in your Self.
To have and to hold? How about to abandon and let go? Well, this latter statement is a testament to those who seek the nondual. The former has to do with fealty and loyalty. You have to apply these where they hold true. Thakur (Sri Ramakrishna
) was vehemently against men abandoning families out of a desire to "renounce" -- "Fie on you!" He would say. So separate the so-called world-negating statements and see them as nondual statements and apply them where they belong.