The word is tyāga in Sanskrit. It means to let go, to give up, to renounce, to detach, to set (yourself) free from attachment to an object. The practice of tyāga is a powerful one and the effect is profound. This practice is capable of igniting radical transformation in you. And, it is with this practice that you can sustain and retain your state of bliss.
It is not possible to renounce karma. One is always performing karma in the form of thought, speech or action. Krishna says to Arjuna:
ना ही देहभृता शक्यं त्यक्तुं कर्माण्यशेषतः ।
यस्तु कर्मफल त्यागी स त्यागीत्यभिधीयते ॥
nā hī dēhabhr̥tā śakyaṁ tyaktuṁ karmāṇyaśēṣataḥ ।
yastu karmaphala tyāgī sa tyāgītyabhidhīyatē ॥ (Bhagavad Gita 18.11)
So long as one is in the body, it is impossible to give up activities completely. It is when one is detached and unhitched towards the outcome, one is truly a renunciate.
This hardly comes without effort. It is not an automatic act. A fair bit of groundwork is required before one can acquire such a state of dispassion and abandonment. A fitting question at the present moment: what is that groundwork? That exactly is my point of focus and elucidation in this post.
Like everything else, detachment can be learned. It is possible to learn to live in a detached fashion with the practice of tyāga. It is easier than you might think. All you have to do is follow the practice outlined and see the results for yourself. For the purpose of better understanding it and to make this a tangible practice, I am going to segregate the practice into two parts. First is letting go of physical objects. This strengthens one’s mind. Second is letting go of thoughts or emotions. This will be covered under Emotional Transformation in due course. For now, I am focusing on the former type.
Start giving up whatever you like. Essentially, that is the practice of tyāga; start giving up. So, should you give up your car, house, belongings, and so forth? Not at all. The attachment is generally not with the object, it is with the pleasure you get from such an object, with the value you place on it. You are not attached to tea but the pleasure you get from drinking tea. So, if you are willing to part with the joy you get from drinking tea, the habit of drinking tea will leave you effortlessly. You may also want to read about Sankalpa – the practice of resolve.
The practice of tyāga, letting go starts with identifying what you love most and then picking one thing to begin with. Decide to let go for a certain period. It can be one week, a month, one year, or any other duration you decide. Please see the chart below:
The complete practice of tyāga means abandoning consumption, desire, contemplation, and thoughts of the object of attachment.
In line with the framework tabulated above, let me elaborate on the practice of tyāga with an example:
You love drinking coffee. Your favorite is cappuccino. For the last so many years, you have been routinely having your double-shot cappuccino every day. You have gotten used to it. On the days you cannot get your hands on your coffee, you miss it. Perhaps, you even get a headache if you are unable to get your dose of caffeine. This is attachment; it strips you of your freedom and makes you dependent (read My Truth for more on this term). One day, committing yourself to the practice of tyāga you decide to give up coffee for a period of forty days. During those forty days of the practice of tyāga, if you:
1. Consume coffee even once (consumption row in the table above): the impact is red. Any actual consumption is a breach of your practice. It is an instant failure item. You need to restart.
2. Keep longing for coffee: you are curbing your desire. This means you are unable to take your mind off’ve coffee. Your practice continues but it brings down the overall quality by twenty percent.
3. Keep contemplating on coffee: if you keep thinking about coffee, the desire for coffee will arise automatically. Non-desirable contemplation is the consequence of non-memory. If you remember to gently take your mind off and focus it elsewhere each time you think about coffee, you are doing good.
4. Think about coffee: Thoughts of coffee may emerge at the sight of a café or seeing someone drinking it etc. It is okay. The key is to drop the thought when it emerges. Having thoughts is natural. When you stay mindful of your practice and resolution, thoughts become feeble and harmless; they disappear as soon as they emerge.
When you let go, you gain freedom. It further leads to a state of independence, peace, and fulfillment.
Ultimately, if you can let go of everything that gives you grief, every agonizing emotion, every discursive thought, you can well imagine your blissful state, I hope.
Go on; learn to let go so you may let yourself go free.