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Worksheet 14


Which Path:

Renunciation or Action?


Self Inquiry: Go Inside, we have both paths in us…


(a) As you read the teachings below, circle the 2 or 3 words or

phrases that to you are most meaningful.


(b) Go inside to get a clearer sense of which path, quiet or

      active, feels right for you at this stage of your life.


     For some this is not an easy question. Try gently forcing it:

     divide a total of 100 points between the two paths (no ties):

     Renunciation path  points:____ Action path points:_____


(c) Date this sheet and watch for changes as your life goes on.



In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna asks us:

“Which path should you follow—the path of quiet contemplation and renunciation (sanyasa yoga), or the path of selfless action (karma yoga)?


___ 1) Both paths lead to the same goal, liberation (moksha), but karma yoga, the path of desireless action is best for you and for most people.


___ 2) Some seekers assume that being ‘spiritual’ means they need to withdraw from the world and become as a sanyasi (renunciate), but often this is just their ego masquerading as quietism.


___ 3) The true karma yogi acts, but does not desire one thing or loathe another—and these are precisely the qualities of the renunciate! What you call yourself is beside the point, the key is whether you escape your self-will (ego) and break free of karma.


___ 4) Uninformed people think the two paths lead to different results, but that is not true. Right doing (karma yoga) leads to right knowing (sanyasa, jnana yoga), and right knowing leads to right doing. Take either path to the end and they meet. At that place, the action oriented karma yogi greets the contemplative sanyasi, and they are both equally free from the awful cycle of death-rebirth.  The person who knows the oneness of these paths really knows the truth.


___ 5) You cannot renounce action without first performing it. The karma yogi comes to realize, through having direct experiences of doing selfless actions in the world, that life beyond the pull of worldly desire is better than life entangled in it.


___ 6) The person who works in the world but without needing or expecting a reward is both a karma yogi and sanyasi. The person who merely refrains from worldly action is neither.


___ 7) You cannot just discard your worldly duties, you must do them to the utmost extent of your human capacity for excellence.


___ 8) You cannot achieve the highest goal—becoming one with the Godhead—without leaving desires behind and abandoning your attachment to the results, the fruits or rewards of your actions.


___ 9) The two paths, renunciation and selfless action, are both based on the same spiritual principle: surrendering selfish motives and attachments.


Without directly experiencing all this, one has to rely on theory and concepts—and theorizing or make-believe have no place in spirituality.”


– Krishna



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