We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby freefall68 » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:32 pm

If I am not mistaken, the word "renunciation" or "renounce" is being used here in place of Sanskrit word sannyasa. However, "renunciation" is nyasa -not sannyasa. sannyasa should more correctly be translated as "dropping away" rather than "renounce".

For example, a child is very attached to his marbles. Then one day his father asks him to give up playing marbles. So this child takes a vow to never touch the marbles again. But he has not lost the rasa of playing marbles. In this sense he is a "nyasin" toward marbles - not "sannyasin". However, when the same child grows up he completely loses his earlier attachment toward his marbles. Note that now he does not have to "renounce" his attachment for marbles. The attachment gets simply "dropped" because the pursuit has become irrelevant. In other words now the person is "sannyasin" as far as marbles are concerned.

The point is that the whole debate about the issue of renouncing because someone feels that he is missing out on fun is misplaced. As long as one feels that one is losing something in "renouncing", then it is no renunciation at all. Such renunciation has no value and it is better to renounce such renunciation. Sannyasa is a natural happening when worldly pursuits become irrelevant. It is not an act of will that one can choose or not choose.

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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:43 pm

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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby jackson » Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:20 pm

Thanks for sharing lazy_eye! I've read the first two parts so far and am really enjoying it.
With gratitude and metta, :smile:
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Nori » Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:49 am

Hi,

Of course I can be wrong, but I think when it is time to go forth, one will know. It will not be some vague notion (to commence).

I think it can be detrimental to go forth before one is ripe.

I was considering it, and discussing this with a Thero monk in Sri Lanka, and I was expressing my doubts. He said, 'better to clear your doubts first'. And then, I was expressing the detrimental conditions of going back to society; he said. 'it is good, .. experience'.

I think in some sense, there is 'fate'. Not everyone has the opportunity to 'go forth' because of 'duty'. If one is unable to abandon their 'place' with a clear conscience, then maybe, it is not time to go; because once you have done damage to your 'spirit'/conscience, or stepped 'out of line', then that is a step in the wrong direction. In fact, it may be the case that by fulfilling 'duties', it lends one strength in the right path. (by 'duty', I mean something which cannot be abandoned with a clear conscience.)

With Metta,
Nori
Last edited by Nori on Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Nori » Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:03 am

freefall68 wrote:The point is that the whole debate about the issue of renouncing because someone feels that he is missing out on fun is misplaced. As long as one feels that one is losing something in "renouncing", then it is no renunciation at all. Such renunciation has no value and it is better to renounce such renunciation. Sannyasa is a natural happening when worldly pursuits become irrelevant. It is not an act of will that one can choose or not choose.


nameless wrote:I think the significance of renunciation is not just the 'not doing' of something, but also the attitude of renouncing. In the sense that, when you are not renouncing, you are clinging to the idea that "if only I do/get/avoid this, I will be happier in the future".

+1

A very good thread. I share in these same thoughts and dilemmas..
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Bevoir » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:20 pm

Hi

I've been reading through this thread, some interesting ideas here.

Has anyone considered that living in the world could be a good thing in terms of bringing up challenges that will promote spiritual growth and overcoming our karma in the world?

I can see that going to a monastery before getting to a peaceful state in every day life might be an escape from problems in your life. I can see how staying in the world until those issues are resolved could be beneficial.

I think life in society throws up far more trials than life in a monastery (not that I've lived in a monastery - I'm guessing). I'm not saying though there isn't a point where you need to go into seclusion to go further but I can imagine that it could be better to "overcome" some of the obstacles life throws up before doing so.

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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Goofaholix » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:18 pm

Bevoir wrote:I think life in society throws up far more trials than life in a monastery (not that I've lived in a monastery - I'm guessing). I'm not saying though there isn't a point where you need to go into seclusion to go further but I can imagine that it could be better to "overcome" some of the obstacles life throws up before doing so.


I have, so I'm not guessing. It's true that living in the "real world" throws up trials that you wouldn't get in a monastery, it's also true living in a monastery throws up trials that you wouldn't get in real life.

Much of our modern lifestyle is about busying ourselves so that we don't have to face what's below the surface. There is so much entertainment noise and activity that bombards us every day that for many people this becomes an avoidance strategy, a way of avoiding or staying one step ahead of a sense of dissatifaction, lack, or confusion.

If someone is running from one lifestyle to the other then he/sshe hasn't learned the lessons that lifestyle presents, it's just grass is greener on the other side syndrome, if one has learned to be content and balanced in either lifestyle then that's heading in the right direction I think.
"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
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby chownah » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:16 am

Bevoir,
I think that the Buddha taught avoidance as one of the strategies to use to deal with some of the negative things we encounter.......I'm wondering if someone can provide a reference which shows this.....
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:20 am

chownah wrote:Bevoir,
I think that the Buddha taught avoidance as one of the strategies to use to deal with some of the negative things we encounter.......I'm wondering if someone can provide a reference which shows this.....
chownah


This is perhaps the sort of thing you are thinking of:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .soma.html
If evil, unskillful thoughts continue to arise in a bhikkhu who ponders on their disadvantageousness, he should in regard to them, endeavor to be without attention and reflection. Then the evil unskillful thoughts are eliminated; they disappear. By their elimination, the mind stands firm, settles down, becomes unified and concentrated, just within (his subject of meditation).

:anjali:
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:51 am

Goofaholix wrote:Much of our modern lifestyle is about busying ourselves so that we don't have to face what's below the surface. There is so much entertainment noise and activity that bombards us every day that for many people this becomes an avoidance strategy, a way of avoiding or staying one step ahead of a sense of dissatifaction, lack, or confusion.

I agree completely, but I have stumbled on a (partial, anyway) solution for myself which may be useful to others: as I began on the path, I became less interested in many of the distractions of modern life - from fashions in clothing and food, to 'reality' TV, to most spectator sport, to most of the rest of what is on TV, etc - and each one that I stopped pursuing gave me a bit more time and mental space for the path. It set up a 'virtuous circle' as opposed to the 'vicious circle' of dissatisfaction - greed - distraction. It wasn't something I forced and (maybe because of that) it has been very slow and is still developing, but it has been completely stress-free at every step.

:namaste:
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby ground » Thu Jan 19, 2012 3:58 am

Goofaholix wrote:It's true that living in the "real world" throws up trials that you wouldn't get in a monastery, it's also true living in a monastery throws up trials that you wouldn't get in real life.

Yes, living throws up trials

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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Bevoir » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:35 pm

As I've said, I've never lived in a monastery so I won't truly know unless that happens and I also come to this discussion with baggage from certain other paths but...

You're obviously going to the monastery because it provides advantages versus the lay style of life in following the Theravada path.

I argue that those very advantages stem partly from the avoidance of many of the hastles of every day life. Such as supporting yourself and others and becoming successful. Leading a successful lay life in all aspects of your life can be very difficult as many of us are well aware.

I argue that those very obstacles to leading that type of life could potentially be obstacles in your mind that you will take with you to the monastery where they will not be provoked into arising and thus overcome.

If you take the view that in a monastery ALL obstacles will arise inspite of the circumstances provoking them not being present then fair enough. Or if you take the view that it's not necessary to overcome all mental obstacles and limitations then living in a monastery at whatever stage of life would be advantageous.

However, and I might be wrong on this, I tend to think that it is important to overcome those obstacles and that they won't arise if a you're in a monastery.

For example, if I were to become a hermit and eschew all human contact, and I this was motivated out of my fear of people then I believe no amount of meditation would allow me to overcome that without interacting with people in order to provoke those karmic tendencies.

Having said that, I agree that avoidance is useful in those activities that are too detrimental to spiritual progress.

Life does throw up obstacles. But to varying degrees according to the circumstances.
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby chownah » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:10 am

Bevoir,
Could it be that you have the opinion that there are a certain number of things which must be accomplished in life and for enlightenment to happen one must conquer these things?....and that these things present themselves as obstructions which we must overcome? That's what I get from reading your posts. I think this idea is mistaken in general and specifically I think that there is nothing in the Buddha's teachings to support that idea. If this were so then I think there would be something somewhere in the Teachings which talked about dealing with these things before becoming a monk or something indicating that lay life needs to be "accomplished" before becoming a monk. Becoming a monk is often described as "going into homelessness"....and is accomplished by just getting a robe and bowl, takings some vows, and then getting on with being a monk and just leaving all that old lay business behind and not looking back. Don't you think that if some kind of resolution of some kind of "life problem" was a good thing that it would at least be mentioned somewhere?
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Hickersonia » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:12 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:I have stumbled on a (partial, anyway) solution for myself which may be useful to others: as I began on the path, I became less interested in many of the distractions of modern life - from fashions in clothing and food, to 'reality' TV, to most spectator sport, to most of the rest of what is on TV, etc - and each one that I stopped pursuing gave me a bit more time and mental space for the path. It set up a 'virtuous circle' as opposed to the 'vicious circle' of dissatisfaction - greed - distraction. It wasn't something I forced and (maybe because of that) it has been very slow and is still developing, but it has been completely stress-free at every step.

Sounds like you and I have similar methods. Little by little is the water pot filled with the positive as I, little by little, siphon off the negative.
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Bevoir » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:49 pm

[quote="chownah"]Bevoir,
Could it be that you have the opinion that there are a certain number of things which must be accomplished in life and for enlightenment to happen one must conquer these things?....and that these things present themselves as obstructions which we must overcome?

Hi Chownah, yes that's right. From previous things I learnt it was taught that our live is a reflection of our thinking. The path laid out that it is important to overcome those limitations so we can regain control of our minds rather than the mind being the boss of us. Once we're supposedly in a more dominant position it's easier then to use atma vichara and go all the way.

That's what I get from reading your posts. I think this idea is mistaken in general and specifically I think that there is nothing in the Buddha's teachings to support that idea.

I'm willing to accept that this might be a mistaken view. I'm just arguing the ideas though - debating them to see if there's a reason why a Buddhist would think it's not a valid view.

I think inspite of what you say we have to make our own decisions and judgements in the end and more generally to whether to follow a Buddhist path at all or some other path.
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby chownah » Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:10 am

Bevoir wrote:
chownah wrote:Bevoir,
Could it be that you have the opinion that there are a certain number of things which must be accomplished in life and for enlightenment to happen one must conquer these things?....and that these things present themselves as obstructions which we must overcome?

Hi Chownah, yes that's right. From previous things I learnt it was taught that our live is a reflection of our thinking. The path laid out that it is important to overcome those limitations so we can regain control of our minds rather than the mind being the boss of us. Once we're supposedly in a more dominant position it's easier then to use atma vichara and go all the way.

I think you are correct that our thinking is what limits us and that it is that which must be addressed....however I think that you are thinking that the thrust of our effort must be directed at the content of the thinking while from what I have read of the Buddha's teachings I have developed the view that it is the process of thinking which should be addressed and not the contents of the thinking. Everyone (lay or monk) who is not enlightened is limited by their thinking and the wrongness of their thinking is the same regardless of what they are thinking about......this wrongness is usually summed up with the idea of "self"....we assume from our expereince that we have a "self" and our assumptions are based on faulty understaning. This is true for lay people and monks alike. The Buddha teaches to have no doctrine of self whatever and both lay people and monks have ample need to work on the process of eliminating doctrine of self.....the particular issues which arise due to the existence of a doctrine of self are not as important as the process of how it arises and what to do to stop making conditions for its arising.
I don't know what an "atma vichara" is but I think it is probably part of a doctrine of self and if this is so then it is probably better to develop mental constructs surrounding this issue which does not rely on it.....but I don't know for sure as I don't know for sure what it means....


Bevoir wrote:I'm willing to accept that this might be a mistaken view. I'm just arguing the ideas though - debating them to see if there's a reason why a Buddhist would think it's not a valid view.

I guess what I have said above might be a reason and also that the Buddha never mentioned it even though there is ample information in the texts about becoming a monk as I posted previously....you say you are looking for "a reason why a Buddhist would think it's not a valid view".....it might be good for you to be looking for "a reason why a Buddhist WOULD think that its a valid view."...I don't know of such a reason...but perhaps someone will post a scriptural reference which supports it....

Bevoir wrote:I think inspite of what you say we have to make our own decisions and judgements in the end and more generally to whether to follow a Buddhist path at all or some other path.[/color]

I don't know why you use the phrase "inspite of what you say".....I fully believe and support the notion that each of us must make our own decisions and judgements.....I don't know what I posted that would indicate that I have any other view on this....let me know if you see what I said that leads to this.
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Bevoir » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:36 pm

Hi Chownah

I guess a better way of describing the method I'm familiar with is that it aims to quiet the mind so that the nature of self (self enquiry - atma Vichara) enquired into and realised - That's basically Advaita Vedanta (I believe).

Additionally, that in order to quiet the mind fully, the powerful thought driving desires need to be released. That these desires, (attachments and aversions) are inherently what make up our mental limitations that are present in our life. That if we resided in a monastery these limitations may not be obvious to us.

As you have said though, and as I noted in another thread, there seems to be a notion of ultimate self in Advaita that's perhaps not pressent in Buddhism.

I am learning that Buddhism comes at things from a different angle. Almost not making the assumption self enquiry makes by instead gaining insight into the workings of the mind. I have much more to learn I think.

In terms of "in spite of what you say" comment, sorry if it was confrontational. I guess I meant that I shouldn't take the Buddhas word for it. I realise now you probably didn't mean for me to do that either.

I have the feeling I might be off topic really here :oops:
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby admiraljim » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:28 am

I am no great scholar of buddhism and I don't know any texts well but this discussion brought this quote I once heard to the forefront of my mind. I think it is by Gampopa a 12th century tibetan buddhist monk - 'the superior meditator meditates in the city, the inferior meditator goes on retreat.'
I think lay life presents an opportunity for development that many people overlook, for example we are not going to agree with our children or family members all the time, what a great opportunity to practice metta I think. By placing too much emphasis on renunciation and going on retreat it can be easy to kid ourselves into thinking we have attained a degree of peace but as soon as the retreat ends on a sunday for example, cue nervous breakdown as the work alarm goes off at 8am on monday morning, thinking '**** it! I thought I did so well on retreat infact I thought my hamster became a stream enterer due to my proximity, the great holy being I am!'
what is the point of renouncing if dharma can't be used as a tool to solve our relatively mundane problems. Buddhism doesn't say don't have fun, what it does say(to me anyway) is that it won't last so you should cherish the smiles and good times with family all the more because it might not happen tomorrow - so get real and stop wasting time!

J :group:
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby chownah » Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:48 am

Bevoir wrote:
Additionally, that in order to quiet the mind fully, the powerful thought driving desires need to be released. That these desires, (attachments and aversions) are inherently what make up our mental limitations that are present in our life. That if we resided in a monastery these limitations may not be obvious to us.

As you have said though, and as I noted in another thread, there seems to be a notion of ultimate self in Advaita that's perhaps not pressent in Buddhism.

The idea that desires need to be released is an interesting one but I don't recall the Buddha ever teaching that. I think that the Buddha taught that desires are constantly arising and passing away and that the key to their cessation is to not create the conditions which causes them to arise. In other words desires are ephemeral and are constantly arising and passing away....they will dissipate on their own and do so readily (in fact their dissipation can not be stopped as they are impermanent) but they seem to last a long time because they keep re-arising...I guess.
In short I have seen nothing in the Buddha's teachings which say that desires must be released....rather that one should focus on blocking the conditions that causes them to arise....if you did a study of dependent co-arising and the idea of having no doctrine of self whatever I think you will see what I'm talking about.
chownah
P.S. I don't known what "Advaita" is but any concept of "ultimate self" would probably be contrary to the Buddha's teaching of "have no doctrine of self".
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Re: We don't want to renounce. We want to have fun.

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:54 am

chownah wrote:P.S. I don't known what "Advaita" is but any concept of "ultimate self" would probably be contrary to the Buddha's teaching of "have no doctrine of self".
chownah

Very very briefly, 'Advaita' = 'not two' and means that the Self and the Universal Consciousness are one.
For more, look under 'Vedanta'.

:namaste:
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