It is not true that the ego does not let go of things. In reality, it is our insecurity that does not allow us to let go of things. For example, when we suffer a leg-fracture and start walking with the help of crutches, soon we cannot let go of the crutches because we feel insecure. Letting go happens when we discover security.
The ego is nothing but a bundle of insecurities. There are many crutches in our lives, e.g., wealth, name, fame, recognition, family, and friends. These need not be . crutches, but generally, they are. They can also be luxuries. For example, getting married or having a child is a luxury in the beginning. In course of time, however, it becomes a necessity because of attachment. Having a family or material possessions does not necessarily mean we have crutches. It depends on how we relate to them. If the relationship is one of attachment or dependence, they are our crutches. If we are not alert in relating to things, we may inadvertently become dependent on many of them for security and comfort. That is why we are reluctant to let go of things.
Inner growth signifies discovering inner security. We will be happy to let go to the extent that we discover security within ourselves. The ego can be predominant, whether in tamas, rajas, or sattva. Inner growth is the transformation from tamas to rajas and from rajas to sattva. The sattvika ego alone is one that is happy with itself and by itself.
Letting go need not be an action. For example, letting go of the family means mentally giving them the freedom to do what they want. A relationship of attachment is one of control. When we are attached to somebody, we control them and cannot let them go, such as in giving them freedom to be who they are, because letting them go makes us insecure. The ability to ‘let go, therefore, means gaining freedom from the need to control others and the ability to give them freedom without feeling insecure. This does not mean being uncaring. One can take care of the family even while giving them freedom and feel happy that they enjoy that freedom. This is also called renunciation.
Holding on to our views, opinions, and things arises from some kind of. insecurity. People derive security from their own beliefs. It is not that a secure person cannot take a firm stand; a secure person is simply willing to consider and accept the views of others. The ability to accept another person’s views with an open mind only comes when there is a feeling of security. Thus, renunciation also means discovering inner security.
The mature ego is not interested in holding on to anything, because holding on to things is a burden. The more things we hold on to, the more we are concerned about them. This causes a lot of stress. People who hold on to lots of things are stressed-out. Therefore, we must not hold on, even to our opinions and views, UUIESQ necessary. Once We discover that that is not necessary, we will be comfortable letting go of them.
’Giving-up’ need not be an action because ’holding. on’ is not an action. Holding on to something happens on account of wrong understanding, while letting go is the result of the right kind of understanding. Renunciation is nothing but having the right understanding. It is possible to be in the midst of things physically and still be a renunciate.
People equate renunciation to becoming physically distant. Well, if it is convenient, physical distance can ‘ also be created. But first, there must be emotional distance. Then alone will physical distance help. Otherwise, it will not help. According to Lord Krishna, that form of self-control, in which one creates a distance with an object of pleasure by not indulging in it or by controlling oneself, while yet retaining a fascination for that object in the mind, is not true self control, but suppression. Taking to a life of renunciation primarily means creating an emotional distance, and then, perhaps, a physical distance as well.
Swami Viditatmananda Saraswati