From A Renunciate Order for the New Age,
by Swami Kriyananda
Samsara is the world of delusion in which we all live: the cosmic dream. It also signifies emotional involvement with the dream. It was to such emotional involvement that Sri Krishna referred in the advice he gave to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita (paraphrased by Paramhansa Yogananda), “O Arjuna! Get away from My ocean of suffering and misery!”
To those few discriminating persons who long to escape from samsara, the attempt to overcome outer attachments is an indirect way of extricating oneself from the swamp. A technique I discovered years ago for overcoming attachments was to build a bonfire mentally, and then cast one by one into the flames every attachment of the heart, every like and dislike, every desire.
A woman I know told me recently, “I tried following your advice: In my zeal to overcome attachment to my house, I cast the house itself mentally into a fire. And what happened? The house burned to the ground!” I answered her: “I didn’t say to throw the house into the fire! What I said was, ‘Throw all your attachments into it!’”
Even so, overcoming attachments is only an indirect way to inner freedom. In this age of greater enlightenment, it is possible (because at last comprehensible) to work directly on the ego itself, around which all our attachments revolve. Patanjali’s definition of yoga, “Yogas chitta vritti nirodha (Yoga is the neutralization of the vortices of feeling),” describes the state of true inner freedom. The ego, however, is the eye of that vortex. The ego also rotates in itself, pirouetting constantly in its eagerness for involvement in maya.
When the ego has been finally dissolved in cosmic consciousness, pure feeling remains; it is no longer focused, however, or drawn inward to a center, in the little self. One enjoys everything, but without ego-attachment.
The old renunciate method—in itself still valid, however—is negative. It is more uplifting nowadays to concentrate on the positive aspects of renunciation. Burn up all attachments—to home, for instance—but concentrate positively on the complete absence of ego itself. Again, reduce your sense of ego to utter unimportance, but on the other hand concentrate on the joy of freedom in omnipresence. Be humble, but not self-abasing; instead, see God as the true Doer of everything.
The old method of renunciation was world-negating; the new one is samadhi-affirming. One’s concentration, in other words, is on the joy of soul-freedom in God.
The old renunciate order tended easily toward judgmental attitudes—of others, and (in some ways even worse) excessive judgment of oneself. The new renunciate order concentrates supportively on everyone’s soul-potential; it sees all beings as striving, each in his own way, toward union with bliss. This feeling, as it expands outward from one’s heart center, beholds that same center of blessing everywhere, in everything, and in everyone. Instead of rejecting error (which of course it must do also; I am not counseling a lack of discrimination!), the new renunciate attitude affirms God’s omnipresent bliss.
The new renunciate rises above samsara by affirming the divine truth behind everything.