Tag Archives: letting go

The Gift of Renunciation


The focus of today’s blog is a subject I never considered writing about until several recent books I read and am reading referred to the essentialness of it. That topic is renunciation. Typically, we think of the path of renunciation as one where we reject all worldly pleasures, including sexual activity, drinking alcohol, and even culinary pleasures.

The books from these spiritual teachers were speaking to the importance of renunciation from a different perspective. For example, Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite Monk from the 17th century who authored a book entitled Practicing the Presence of God, stated “…the most important part resides in renouncing, once and for all, whatever does not lead to God.”

Looking at it from Brother Lawrence’s perspective, we can likely see the value of renunciation on our spiritual journey. If an activity or way of being does not bring us closer to God, or in other words, closer to our divine nature, why would we want to pursue it?

This does not inherently call on us to give up anything in particular. It will be different for each individual. For example, a couple in a relationship might find sexual intimacy to be something that brings them closer to each other and more in touch with the divine quality of love. Renouncing sexual activity in this case wouldn’t seem to enhance their spiritual journey. On the other hand, a person with a sexual addiction whereby sexual activity brings out the worst in them might be well served to consider renouncing sexual activity, not because sex is inherently a bad thing, but because it is not currently serving them on their spiritual journey.

Swami Muktananda of the Siddha Yoga lineage wrote “Renunciation is necessary, absolutely necessary…It is only the illusion of ‘mine’ in all this that you have to recognize and renounce.” Here, the illusion of mine refers to a sense of separation from God or our divine nature, a sense that we have a unique self that is apart from God. Of course, we do have a unique self, but it is not separate from our divinity. Similar to the guidance from Brother Lawrence, the guidance from Swami Muktananda is to renounce any sense of separation from God.

Chogyam Trungpa of the Shambhala tradition and founder of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado wrote “What (he) renounces is anything in his experience that is a barrier between himself and others. In other words, renunciation is making yourself more available, more gentle and open to others.” Again renunciation is letting go of that which puts us in separation.

Ernest Holmes, founder of the Science of Mind philosophy, wrote “It is a belief in separation from God which binds and limits.”

We need not renounce anything in particular if it is serving to lift us into joy, prosperity, well-being, and wholeness. The invitation is to renounce that which puts us in a sense of separation from our source, that which binds and limits us. This is unique to each person and we each can know what we are to renounce, or let go of, by honestly and deeply looking into the mirror that is our lives.

Thus, renunciation becomes a path to liberation and inspiration rather than the giving up of anything. What are you to renounce today? What does hinder thee? Perhaps letting go is really claiming the greater possibility that awaits you in your life.

Enjoy the journey.

Gregory Toole offers spiritual coaching to individuals and groups who want to create and live extraordinary lives. For more information, go to gregorytoole.com.

Surrender: Where The Real Power Is

by Gregory Toole

In our upbringing, most of us have probably known “surrender” to be a negative action, something we surely only do as a last resort. The common definition equates surrender to giving up.

In spiritual terms, the only thing we give up with surrender is our need to be in control of everything. And since we don’t actually control nearly as much as we sometimes think, ultimately we are not giving up much at all when we surrender.

However, we gain much–greater ease, peace of mind, and expanded possibilities for our life that are beyond anything we could ever imagine when we needed to be fully in control.

A big question is, “What are we surrendering to?” What we surrender to is our divine nature, our higher nature. In short, we surrender to God, or whatever we call our higher power.

Another question is, “How do I do it?” The answer to this question is a bit more involved, but the simplest response is that we begin to let go, little by little, of our attachment to specific outcomes and how and when those outcomes come to pass.

In letting go, we get out of the way of our higher nature, making room for grace to come into our lives. Grace can only occur when we get our human ego-centered selves out of the way.

As brilliant as the human brain is, it really is finite in terms of its ability to coordinate the infinite range of activities that need to take place for our lives to be full and, at the same time, for us to be at peace and at ease with life. Our divine, or higher, self is infinite, capable of coordinating an infinite array of simultaneous synchronistic activities on our behalf, all at once.

“How is this possible?” you may say. It is possible due to the infinite intelligence embedded in our divine nature, combined with the reality of oneness, that all of life is one and connected. Surrender aligns us with the flow of this one life and infinite intelligence. In that flow, synchronicities become commonplace and we find that our effort is only a small part of what takes place to get our needs met.

Five Steps

Here are five initial steps to support you in your desire to practice surrender:

  1. Let go of the notion that you’re fully in control.
  2. Spend some time in meditation daily, even if it’s just one minute a day. Use this time to listen for divine wisdom and inspiration, but don’t be attached to getting a result.
  3. When you feel stressed, pause for a moment and get in touch with your breath. Your breath is your connection to life, and thus the flow of life.
  4. Don’t schedule yourself so tightly. Leave at least a little room for divine opportunities (those that match what you want, but not your human timing).
  5. Develop strategies in advance for how you will capture your divine inspirations and insights (e.g., keep a recording device handy). These insights are a gift to you and often provide clarity and solutions that would have required far more human effort to develop if you had waited until you felt you had time to think about them.

The practice of surrender is possible for you. It starts with willingness, and being open to divine guidance. Little by little, you can loosen your grip, and as you do, the ease and peace you’ve been wanting start to become real, and yet your life is even fuller.

Enjoy the journey!