Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan
To renounce what we cannot gain is not true renunciation, it is weakness. When the apples are so high up on the branch of the tree that we cannot reach them, we try to and cannot, if we then say, "The apples are sour. I don't want them", that is not renunciation. If we climb the tree and get the apples and cut them in half, then we may say, "They are sour", and throw them away.
If we say, "I cannot have my wish. It is not intended by the will of God. I am resigned to the will of God", that is not resignation. Why should it not be meant for us to have our wish? Behind our will there is the will of God. God desires it through us. Christ said, "If ye desire bread, He will not give a stone". By this we see that it is natural for us to have our desire, it is natural for us to have health and riches and success and all things. It is unnatural to have illnesses and failures and miseries. But if, after gaining all the wealth in the world, position and titles, then we give it up, then that will be true renunciation.
The real spirit of renunciation is willingness; and willing renunciation comes when one has risen above the thing one renounces. The value of each thing in life, wealth, power, position, possession, is according to the evolution of man. There is a time in his life when toys are his treasures, and there is a time when he puts them aside. ...
There are two different renunciations: one is renunciation, the other is loss. True renunciation is that which a person makes who has risen above something that he once valued; or whose hunger and thirst for the thing are satisfied and it is no more so valuable as it once was; or who perhaps has evolved and sees life differently, no longer as he saw it before.
Renunciation in all these cases is a step forward towards perfection. But the other renunciation is one which a person is compelled to make when circumstances prevent his achieving what he wishes to achieve or from getting back what he has lost helplessly; or when, by weakness of mind or body, by lack of position, power, or wealth, he cannot reach the object he desires. That renunciation is a loss; and instead of leading towards perfection it drags man down toward imperfection. ...
The final victory in the battle of life for every soul is when he has abandoned, which means when he has risen above, what once he valued most. For the value of everything exists for man only so long as he does not understand it. When he has fully understood, the value is lost, be it the lowest thing or the highest thing. It is like looking at the scenery on the stage and taking it for a palace. Such is the case with all things of the world; they seem important or precious when we need them or when we do not understand them; as soon as the veil which keeps man from understanding is lifted, then they are nothing.
~~~ To renounce what we cannot gain is not true renunciation, it is weakness.