Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby mettafuture » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:12 pm

Or is it something much more?

What are your thoughts?
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:16 pm

mettafuture wrote:Or is it something much more?

What are your thoughts?
You mean owning fewer things?

You have to define the words before the question can be really answered. Certainly the question be answered with a yes, but it depends upon what you mean by both terms.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
User avatar
tiltbillings
 
Posts: 19562
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:48 pm

mettafuture wrote:Or is it something much more?

What are your thoughts?


It's simplification yes, but it's also going against the grain. By which I mean instead of giving into our wants and impulses as soon as they arise we have the opportunity to see how the mind reacts when our wants are denied, we then have the opportunity to see what causes our wants and whether those wants are genuine or not.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1944
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby mettafuture » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:49 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
mettafuture wrote:Or is it something much more?

What are your thoughts?

You mean owning fewer things?

Yes. Fewer possessions, fewer tasks to complete, fewer hobbies, etc.

Or does the dhamma, in your opinion, call for a more extreme renunciation?
User avatar
mettafuture
 
Posts: 364
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:13 pm

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby Dhammakid » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:24 pm

Well, at least in my limited understanding, it's more about renunciation of the myriad desires and cravings existence involves more than it is renunciation of material possessions and tasks to complete. When one is mindful, one will notice the desire for such possessions and/or tasks and be able to correctly identify them as craving (for becoming or non-becoming, i.e. status, power, self-meaning, etc), and thus be able to make a more enlightened analysis of whether such possessions or tasks should be pursued. This may very well result in less material possessions or less searching for tasks to fill idle time.

The Buddha describes on several occassions the bliss of owning little and freeing up time for practice. When one owns many things, one is constantly worried about theft of the items, or disaster ruining the items, or no longer being able to care for the items. One may not realize that eventually these possessions will cease to be, whether through the aforementioned processes or by the simple fact that you can't take them to the grave with your "self."

Simplification isn't a bad term to describe it, but I think renunciation works better. Simplification is completely relative - a king with many possessions by a peasant's standards can be considered to be living a simplified life by a more wealthy and lavish king from another land. But renunciation is pretty straight-forward and isn't subject to the perspective of the observer.

Hope this helps

:anjali:
Dhammakid
User avatar
Dhammakid
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:09 am
Location: Georgia, USA

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:27 pm

Greetings Mettafuture,

mettafuture wrote:Or does the dhamma, in your opinion, call for a more extreme renunciation?

In the long run it involves a more complete renunciation... eventually renouncing even the subtlest perception of self and "I".

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
 
Posts: 14674
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby cooran » Sat Oct 02, 2010 5:52 am

Hello mettafuture, all,

This might be of assistance:

VII. RENUNCIATION
In order to embrace the spiritual path fully, be able to grow on it and walk along it with a feeling of security, one has to renounce. Renunciation doesn't necessarily mean cutting off one's hair or wearing robes.

Renunciation means letting go of all ideas and hopes that the mind would like to grasp and retain, be interested in and wants to investigate.

The mind wants to have more of whatever is available. If it can't get more, then it makes up fantasies and imaginings and projects them upon the world. That will never bring true satisfaction, inner peace, which can only be won by renunciation. "Letting go" is the key word of the Buddhist path, the fading away of desire. One must realize once and for all that "more" is not "better." It is impossible to come to an end of "more," there is always something beyond it. But it is certainly possible to come to the end of "less," which is a much more sensible approach.

Why sit in seclusion in meditation and spoil one's chances at all the opportunities the world offers for enjoyment? One could go on trips, work at a challenging job, meet interesting people, write letters or read books, have a pleasant time somewhere else and really feel at ease -- one could even find a different spiritual path. When the meditation does not succeed, the thought may arise: "What am I really doing, why am I doing it, what for, what's the good of it?" Then the idea comes: "I can't really do this very well, maybe I should try something else."

The world glitters and promises so much, but never, never keeps its promises. Everyone has tried a number of its temptations and not one of them has really been fulfilling. The real fulfillment, the completeness of peace, lacking nothing, the totality of being at ease and not wanting anything, cannot be fulfilled in the world. There's nothing that can fill one's wants utterly and completely. Money, material possessions, another person, some of these can do so. And yet there's that niggling doubt: "Maybe I'll find something else, more comfortable, easier, not so demanding and above all something new." Always that which is new promises fulfillment.

The mind has to be understood for what it is, just another sense, that has as its base the brain, just as seeing has as its base the eye. As the mind-moments arise and contact is made with them, we start believing what we are thinking and even owning it: "It's mine." Because of that, we're really interested in our thoughts and want to look after them. It's a foregone conclusion that people look after their own belongings much better than they look after other people's things, so that one follows one's own mind-moments and believes them all. Yet they will never bring happiness. What they bring is hope and worry and doubt. Sometimes they supply entertainment and at other times depression. When doubts arise and one follows through on them, goes along with them, they can lead us to the point at which there is no practice left at all. Yet the only way to prove that the spiritual life brings fulfillment is to practice. The proof of the pudding lies in the eating. Nobody else can prove it to us; wanting outside proof, so that all one has to do is grab a hold of it and nourish oneself is a wrong approach.

The fulfillment we are looking for is not what we can get and stuff into this mind and body. The gaping hole is much too large to fill. The only way we can find fulfillment is to let go of expectations and wanting, of everything that goes on in the mind, so that there is nothing lacking. Then there's nothing left to fill.

The misunderstanding, which recurs over and over again is this typical attitude of: "I want to be given. I want to get knowledge, understanding, loving-kindness, consideration. I want to receive a spiritual awakening." There is nothing that one can be given, except instructions and methods. One needs to do the daily work of practice, so that purification will result. The lack of fulfillment cannot be remedied by wanting to be given something new. We're not even clear about where this is to come from. Maybe from the Buddha, or from the Dhamma, or we might want it from our teacher. Possibly we would like to get it from our meditation, or from a book. The answer is not in getting something from outside of ourselves, but rather lies in discarding everything.

What do we need to get rid of first? Preferably the convolutions of the mind that constantly tell us stories which are fantastic and unbelievable. Yet when we hear them, we ourselves believe them. One way to look at them and disbelieve them, is to write them down. They sound absurd when they're written down on paper. The mind can always think up new stories, there's no end to them. Renunciation is the key. Giving up, letting go.

Giving up also means giving in to that underlying, subconscious knowing that the worldly way doesn't work, that there is a different way. We cannot try to remain in the world and add something to our life, but rather give our ambitions up completely. To stay the way one is and then add something to that -- how can it possibly work? If one has a non-functioning machine and adds another part to it, it's not going to make it function. One has to overhaul the whole machine.

That means accepting our underlying understanding that the old ways of thinking aren't useful. There's always dukkha again and again. It keeps coming, doesn't it? Sometimes we think: "It must be due to a particular person, or maybe it's due to the weather." Then the weather changes or that person leaves, but dukkha is still present. So it wasn't that and we have to try to find something else. Instead we need to become pliable and soft and attend to that which is truly arising without all the convolutions, conglomerations, proliferations of the mind. That which arises may be either pure or impure and we need to know how to handle each one.

Once we start explaining and rationalizing, the whole process breaks down again. We mustn't think that we can add anything to ourselves in order to make us whole. All has to be taken away, the whole identifiable lot, then we become a whole person. Renunciation is letting go of ideation, of the mind-stuff that claims to be the person who knows. Who knows that person who knows? These are only ideas churning around, arising and ceasing. Renunciation is not an outward manifestation, that's only its result. The cause is an inward one, which is the one we need to practice. If we think of a nunnery as a place for meditation, we will find that meditation cannot happen without renunciation. http://www.vipassana.com/meditation/khe ... iation.php

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
User avatar
cooran
 
Posts: 7615
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:32 pm
Location: Queensland, Australia

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby ground » Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:09 am

"renunciation" imo implies:
overcoming attachment, aversion, ignorant indifference, pride, doubt, the thicket of wrong views and thus effecting perfect ethical conduct.

Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby Aloka » Sat Oct 02, 2010 7:22 am

My view is that perhaps renunciation begins to happen naturally when we resolve to lead more meaningful lives and then regularly practice meditation and mindfulness. Our most predominent attachments and related behaviors lessen and gradually become less of a problem.

.
User avatar
Aloka
 
Posts: 3661
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:51 pm

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:04 am

mettafuture wrote:Or is it something much more?

What are your thoughts?


I'd characterise renunciation as a process of letting go.

Spiny
User avatar
Spiny O'Norman
 
Posts: 851
Joined: Sat May 23, 2009 8:46 am
Location: Suffolk, England

Re: Is renunciation mere "simplification"?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:29 am

Renunciation is more than simplification, but it is part of it.
There are some useful/beatiful terms in the dhamma which have renunciation at their heart:
appakicca- having few tasks a duties
santutti- contentment - fewness of wants
viveka- seclusion
sunnata- empty of .. (see cullasannyata sutta)
nekkhamma -renunciation-
indriyasamvara- sense restraint
anatimani- humble
subara- easy to support
suvaca- easy to instruct
mudu- softness
noble silence
being away from crowds/groups of people- dwelling alone

For there to be the intention of renunciation there has to be Right view. ie- the idea that non-craving, non-aversion, non-delusion is good for you (belief in karma, rebirth, parents, enlightenment, devas all have their roots in this).

This then leads to the second step of the noble eightfold path- Right intention- renunciation intention, non-violence intention, non-aversion intention. This then leads to the rest of the steps of the noble eightfold path in turn. So renunciation (at some level- even the little time you spend doing meditation, not enjoying the sense) is critical for the path. Sila arises from having the idea that renunciation is not a bad thing, but a good wholesome thing and that we do not have to steal, kill etc to satisfy our senses.

But of course we develop these things little by little. But it is important to know that this is an integral foundational part of the noble eightfold path.

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK


Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: GengisAmon, Google [Bot] and 15 guests