As a spiritual teacher people ask me time and again, “Swamiji, if spirituality is my goal, why should I not give up my work and become a Swamiji like you? If the world is not my goal, then shouldn’t I become a renunciant?”
The goal is fine, but there is a path for reaching it. You can’t just jump there. If you wish to become a saint, there is a process. If somebody wishes to become a post graduate, there is a process. You start with grade one and keep passing the grades one by one. But if somebody says, “One day I have to leave school and go to college, why don’t I leave it right away and sit straight in college.” What will happen to that person?
Without clearing the 12 grades if you sit in college, you will keep sitting there for the next 50 years but you will not benefit from it, for you entered college without passing the school. Similarly, this university of the world needs to be passed through. Before you become eligible for the renounced order, you have to learn so many things. You have to enhance your patience, tolerance, forbearance and determination. All these things will then help you in your spiritual path. If we first renounce the world externally and the mind is not yet detached, we will not get the benefit of spiritual practice. We may live in a holy place but our mind will contemplate the objects of the world.
This is what Shree Krishna told Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita. He clearly showed his preference for the path of karm yog over false renunciation. He said that a person in household life who practices karm yog is superior to the false renunciant who continues to dwell on the objects of the senses in the mind. If external renunciation is not accompanied with an equal amount of mental and intellectual withdrawal from the sensual fields it creates a situation of hypocrisy. Therefore, it is better to face the struggles of the world as a karm yogi, and practice renunciation internally. Once you develop internal detachment from the world and mastery over your mind, external renunciation will be a natural process.