Tapasya as a concept is perhaps most easily considered in terms of renunciation. For the true practitioner of spiritual work, for the sadhak, renunciation means non-attachment. To things. To ideas. To the ideas of things. That to which we are attached is that which creates illusion in our lives. Illusion is the thing that beclouds our mind, that keeps us from knowing the One Desire, which is Bliss. Or so a tiny bit of complex Indian philosophy is distilled.

An Eastern concept, to be sure. But renunciation of attachment, whether America knew it or not back in the 60's, was the bedrock of what has come to be known as "hippie" culture. "When you ain't got nothin', you got nothin' to lose," sang Bob Dylan most famously, "you're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal…"

And so we tried. For a while. But history and the economics of history threw so much stuff at us. There was the music, of course. And the girls who danced to the music. And the shiny boxes to play the music on. The drugs to help us get deeper into the music. The clothes, the cars, the tools, the toys, the stuff.

Eventually we forgot about how simple it should have been. And eventually we even stopped trying to get back to the garden, as Joni Mitchell put it.

Renunciation is at the heart of every religion in the world.

  • "The essence of civilization consists not in the multiplication of wants but in their deliberate and voluntary renunciation."--Mahatma Gandhi
  • "On the hat of poverty three renouncements are inscribed: Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting."--Sufi poet
  • "By letting it go it all gets done.
    The world is won by those who let it go.
    But when you try and try
    The world is then beyond the winning."--Tao Te Ching
  • "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."--Jesus
  • "Let It Be."--John Lennon and Paul McCartney

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