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Is renunciation of the world required to experience the Peace of God?
I've recently met some people who appear to have fully renounced the world. There is a part of me who would very much like to be like them, I love that sense of not being alone and of having a loving presence caring for and supporting me. Some days I think I can do it; other days I feel I'm not really ready to renounce—am still too caught up in the world's story. I'd be grateful for any advice on this matter. Do you have to renounce this world completely (give it all away) in order to really know the peace of God?
The short Answer to your question is yes. Yet it is very important to allow the Holy Spirit to Guide you step by step toward this renunciation experience, because the ego has its own version of "renunciation." Without careful mind training, the Light within will be feared as It is approached. Miracles save time by collapsing time and thus eliminating fear. There is a quote from the Course that sheds light on the ego's versions of renunciation. These errors must be exposed as nothingness in order for authentic Awakening to be experienced:
"Many have chosen to renounce the world while still believing its reality. And they have suffered from a sense of loss, and have not been released accordingly. Others have chosen nothing but the world, and they have suffered from a sense of loss still deeper, which they did not understand.
Between these paths there is another road that leads away from loss of every kind, for sacrifice and deprivation both are quickly left behind. This is the way appointed for you now. You walk this path as others walk, nor do you seem to be distinct from them, although you are indeed. Thus can you serve them while you serve yourself, and set their footsteps on the way that God has opened up to you, and them through you.
Illusion still appears to cling to you, that you may reach them. Yet it has stepped back. And it is not illusion that they hear you speak of, nor illusion that you bring their eyes to look on and their minds to grasp. Nor can the truth, which walks ahead of you, speak to them through illusions, for the road leads past illusion now, while on the way you call to them, that they may follow you.
All roads will lead to this one in the end. For sacrifice and deprivation are paths that lead nowhere, choices for defeat, and aims that will remain impossible. All this steps back as truth comes forth in you, to lead your brothers from the ways of death, and set them on the way to happiness." (W-155.7.2)
To renounce the world is to be free of every scrap of ego thinking. This is an obvious conclusion once it is apparent that there can be no exceptions to truth. Renunciation is a seeming change in thinking, from attempting to think apart from God to thinking in alignment with God. This transformation does not involve joining a group or leaving a society, but it does involve letting go of all concepts of time. The perceived world is built on concepts that God did not create, and thus the mind which has been emptied of all specific time concepts can finally embrace the final all-inclusive concept: Atonement. Atonement can be equated with detachment, for the final Correction has no investment in a dualistic, time bound self-concept which God did not create.
Let the Holy Spirit convince you that there is nothing real that has to be "given up." Miracles light the way. Since God creates Spirit, and Identity is Eternal Spirit, the illusion of "giving up the thinking of the world" cannot be fearful. It is fearful indeed to believe in the reality of the world, for this is the attempt to make a self apart from Spirit. In truth, this is impossible, for there is nothing apart from Spirit. Because Spirit has no opposite, the dawning of Spirit in awareness is simply inevitable.
The Holy Spirit will Guide the mind very specifically while the mind believes in specifics. This is good news, for at every seeming turn in the maze of time, there is the ever-present Comforter available to Guide and Answer and Bless. Trust in the miracles of Joy and be not tempted to compare or contrast persons, groups, places, or things. The Truth of our Being will dawn of ItSelf. God is remembered in the Divine Silence beyond the concepts and images. You are perfect exactly as You are.
"Renounce the world" is just another way of stating "Embrace the Spirit." All Glory to God for creating Spirit as One!