In the Bhagavadgita (5.1) Arjuna says, "On the one hand
you praise renunciation of action and on other you commend the yoga of action. Please
tell me clearly which of the two is better?" When you do not know the true
meaning of renunciation, you will have such confusion since you cannot easily decide
what you should renounce. Should you renounce actions? Should you renounce possessions?.
Or should you renounce the world and live in a remote and secluded place? The most
important aspect of renunciation is renunciation of desire, not the external action
of doing or not doing.
When you swim in muddy waters, you cannot avoid touching
the water or the mud. Some mud and some water will stick to you, however careful
and restrained you are. So is the case with living in this world. You will be swamped
by worldliness. You are bound to be swayed by things. Hence our scriptures teach
sameness, which means you will be equal to everything and accept everything without
judgment. Sameness arises from renunciation of desires and attachments.
A true ascetic
does not choose or desire anything. He accepts whatever food that is offered to
him. Sameness (samatvam) is the true mark of renunciation. Therefore, the Bhagavadgita
suggest that you should go about your life peacefully, doing what you have been
doing before, but without desire, preference, expectation and attachment. A true
ascetic yogi gives up comfortable life and lives in harsh conditions not to practice
renunciation but because of his attitude of renunciation.