In a former post, Pity the Unhappy Rich Man, we introduce the idea that the poor who seem happy may be qualitatively different from the rich who are unhappy. Namely they may be ignorant rather than blissful.
Ironically it is only abundance which can true illustrate the composition of one’s character. For without the ability to make one’s desires real, we can all claim that we have none.
Thus, the renouncer must renounce due to fear. When one finally reaches oneness with God, he or she no longer needs to let go or chase anything. This individual naturally experiences a total state of equilibrium.
Why then, we ask, do most spiritual or self-masters end up with so few possessions? This naturally results as they surrender attachments on their path of liberty.
Once they arrive, there is generally no need to reattach to anything. Thus, they finish the path they walked when they began. As an example, a great seeker renounces everything and works doing service.
Some traditional examples of service include feeding the homeless, serving monks at an ashram, and giving free medical care. When done properly, the process of serving “others,” subordinates selfish ego desires.
When done improperly, it feeds the ego. Appropriate intent is the clearest way of diffusing the ego-bomb. When someone asks us why we serve others, we make sure to state, I am doing it because it makes me feel good.
The surest way to self-destruct is to feel that we are helping them. Scientifically, the universe takes care of itself. We are but small examples of an extremely massive existence. There is no analogy that shows how infinitesimal one person may be.
Knowing that we are but part of a larger whole reminds us in this stage that we are serving ourselves by serving others. Spiritually, “God” does not need us to take care of the universe. This way we subordinate our selfish desires. Otherwise we begin to feel that we are such great people serving others.
The worst is when we discount others’ contributions because they have a profit motive attached to them. We all have a profit motive. Even when we sacrifice what we have it is because it makes us feel good to do so.
So here we return to the advanced seeker. This individual practices subordination of ego-based desires by serving himself or herself through the vehicle of placing others’ desires first. Another example clarifies.
The military private is also service-oriented. His every move is governed by a higher authority. He places his body in the way of bullets destined for his fellow human beings. Why they are destined is not the point; his role is not to judge motives or desires. It is to learn to subordinate.
Returning to the two seekers, we see that they converge in the end. Both ego-centric individuals subordinate to larger goals and ideals. Once this is done, they generally continue what they started. There is no need to start anything new.
Thus the spiritual teacher continues teaching, the warrior sacrifices for his troops. Their personal desires have merged into what they are. The process of renunciation resulted in their knowing themselves. No effort is needed for them to maintain what they are. It comes naturally.
This process works in any career and any stage of life. We do not have to await a certain age or level of success. We only need to possess certain characteristics laid out by self-masters throughout time. We need focused intellects, and faith among others. In future articles we discuss these traits, known in Vedanta as the six qualities.