Renunciation in St. John of the Cross and in the Bhagavad-G\=\i t\=a
This dissertation studies the concept and place of renunciation in the writings of St. John of the Cross and in the Bhagavadgita.^ Renunciation is one of the pillars of the entire system of St. John of the Cross. After examining the active presence of renunciation in the life of St. John of the Cross, the dissertation makes a detailed analysis of the concept of renunciation in the writings of St. John of the Cross. More than the renunciation of exterior goods, John's teaching refers to the renunciation of appetites dwelling within the human person. Renunciation, for him, is above all an interior attitude.^ The full meaning of John's teaching on renunciation can be understood only in the context of his doctrinal system. The central idea which unifies all the teachings of John is union del alma con Dios (union of the soul with God). Renunciation is a disposition for union with God. More than that, it is an aspect or dimension of the very union. Union with God, for John, is a union of love. Renunciation is a corollary of the love of God.^ John's teaching on renunciation is not only positive, but also appears to be in harmony with the teaching on the subject of spiritual and mystical writers in general. In fact, even though his dependence on his own experience is undeniable and he acknowledges and demonstrates his reliance on the Bible, it seems certain that his familiarity with Neoplatonism, Rhineland mystics, earlier Spanish authors, and some Islamic teachers is also a source of his doctrine on renunciation.^ Renunciation pertains to the very essence of the Bhagavadgita, the foremost scripture of Hinduism. For the Gita, samnyasa (renunciation) means renunciation of desires, especially desires for the fruits of one's actions. It ultimately leads to union with Krishna, the Godhead incarnate. There is surprising similarity between the doctrines of St. John of the Cross and of the Bhagavadgita on renunciation. This similarity can be observed on the level of the concept of renunciation as well as on the level of the place of renunciation in the spiritual journey. ^
Thomas J Myladil,
"Renunciation in St. John of the Cross and in the Bhagavad-G\=\i t\=a"
(January 1, 1994).
ETD Collection for Fordham University.