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A Disgust For Our Endless Pursuit Of The Fleeting

There comes a time in the life of every fortunate person when one realizes the utter futility of seeking the permanent in the impermanent, the eternal in the ephemeral, the unchanging in this sea of change. That is when vairagya arises. It is a divine discontent, a disgust for our endless pursuit of the fleeting. We feel fed up with ourselves for chasing happiness where it can never be found. Even the happiness of heaven doesn’t interest us; for that too, we understand, is temporary. No, we want the Real, the Eternal, the Imperishable.

Swami Vivekananda says: All the power of knowledge and wealth once made has passed away — all the sciences of the ancients, lost, lost forever. Nobody knows how. That teaches us a grand lesson. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity and vexation of the spirit. If we have seen all this, then we become disgusted with this world and all it offers us. This is called Vairagya, non-attachment, and is the first step towards knowledge. The natural desire of man is to go towards the senses. Turning away from the senses takes him back to God. So the first lesson we have to learn is to turn away from the vanities of the world.

So vairagya, this utter disregard for objects of enjoyment, be they material objects or intangibles like name and fame, is a natural development; it comes of itself when the time is ripe, and is the sure outcome of viveka correctly undertaken.

Sri Ramakrishna reminds us: It is not possible to acquire vairagya, renunciation, all at once. The time factor must be taken into account. But it is also true that a man should hear about it. When the right time comes, he will say to himself, ‘Oh yes, I heard about this.’ You must also remember another thing. By constantly hearing about renunciation one’s desire for worldly objects gradually wears away. One should take rice-water in small doses to get rid of the intoxication of liquor. Then one gradually becomes normal.

Another fact to remember is that there will come a time when we shall have to give up everything: at the time of our death we must relinquish all, willingly or unwillingly. Spiritual aspirants strive to make that final renunciation a willing one by preparing for it now.

Source excerpts from article titled 'Vairagya - Path To Freedom' by Swami Mahayogananda published in the Prabuddha Bharata Magazine January 2010 issue.