renunciation

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renunciation

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:48 pm

I came across this just now and it struck me as very relevant for my own practice and perhaps relevant to many people here as well. I have noticed the teachings on renunciation bother many lay people. In the scriptures we can see it bothered lay people even back during the time of the Buddha. Tapussa the householder put it this way:

Tapussa in AN 9.41 wrote:We are householders who indulge in sensuality, delight in sensuality, enjoy sensuality, rejoice in sensuality. For us — indulging in sensuality, delighting in sensuality, enjoying sensuality, rejoicing in sensuality — renunciation seems like a sheer drop-off. Yet I've heard that in this doctrine & discipline the hearts of the very young monks leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace. So right here is where this doctrine & discipline is contrary to the great mass of people: i.e., [this issue of] renunciation.


And here we see the Buddha could sympathize with this.

Buddha in AN 9.41 wrote:So it is. So it is. Even I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, thought: 'Renunciation is good. Seclusion is good.' But my heart didn't leap up at renunciation, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.


So what did the Buddha recommend? He continues...

Buddha in AN 9.41 wrote:The thought occurred to me: 'What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'I haven't seen the drawback of sensual pleasures; I haven't pursued [that theme]. I haven't understood the reward of renunciation; I haven't familiarized myself with it. That's why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.'

Then the thought occurred to me: 'If, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I were to pursue that theme; and if, having understood the reward of renunciation, I were to familiarize myself with it, there's the possibility that my heart would leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace.'


I take from this that the drawbacks of sensual pleasures and the rewards of renunciation are not obvious. One must devote attention to their contemplation.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: renunciation

Postby Fede » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:01 pm

I think when one is so attached to sensual pleasures, and the pursuit of the fulfilment of desires, it's difficult to look at the drawbacks, because one is focussed on what they could do for us, and what we'd be missing if we didn't have them.

After all, if it could be ably, tangibly and physically demonstrated how labour intensive marriage and having children are, many might well be put off by indulging in either - !!
It's a question of doffing the rose-tinted spectacles, in some ways......

I further think reflection on such matters is easier, in mature age...... not always, granted. But occasionally, age and experience count for a great deal.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: renunciation

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Apr 13, 2009 7:20 pm

Thank you Peter. I think and talk about renunciation often, in fact. I feel that even for lay people it's an important part of the path.

To me it even goes beyond sensual pleasures. To me renunciation is recognizing that samsara is dissatisfying, and developing resolve to go beyond it. It's rejecting worldly dharmas as well as the core of what continuously draws us into becoming. I don't mean to say that we should be detached and stop caring, but I do mean that being fed up with samsara and trying to learn to behave accordingly has been very important to me.

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Re: renunciation

Postby Fede » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:04 pm

....do you actually mean 'worldly dharmas' - or 'worldly dramas''?
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: renunciation

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:25 pm

Fede wrote:....do you actually mean 'worldly dharmas' - or 'worldly dramas''?


Hi Fede, I believe that we should try to renunciate the 8 worldly dharmas. It would be good to renunciate drama, too. I'm all for that.

Getting what you want, and avoiding getting what you do not want
Wanting (instant) happiness, and not wanting unhappiness
Wanting fame, and not wanting to be unknown
Wanting praise, and not wanting blame.
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Re: renunciation

Postby Jechbi » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:34 pm

Thanks for bringing up renunciation, Peter. It's worth remembering that nekkhamma is one of the perfections. Some of the other parami are so intuitively positive (generosity, lovingkindness, patience, wisdom) that it's easy to forget the perfections that seem to demand something we don't necessarily want in limitless measure, like morality or, yes, renunciation.

In response to your post, I took a spin throught Access to Insight and came across the Nibbedhika Sutta. The way I read it, it seems like a mistake we might make when it comes to renunciation is to think that we're giving up something out there that's pleasant and feels good and doesn't seem to hurt anyone. The mistake we might make is to forget that those things out there are not sensuality:
The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality,
not the beautiful sensual pleasures
found in the world.
The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality.

The beauties remain as they are in the world,
while the wise, in this regard,
subdue their desire.

Then later the sutta brings this practice right down to the bare path, exposing how renunciation can lead to the supreme bliss:
'Sensuality should be known. The cause by which sensuality comes into play... The diversity in sensuality... The result of sensuality... The cessation of sensuality... The path of practice for the cessation of sensuality should be known.'


Not sure if this is too much opinion for the Classical Theravada forum, so I apologize if this is off topic. But I love to learn more about the perfections.

Metta
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Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
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Re: renunciation

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Mon Apr 13, 2009 9:52 pm

The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality,
not the beautiful sensual pleasures
found in the world.
The passion for his resolves is a man's sensuality.


I feel very surprised and pleased to read this in a sutta. Image
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Re: renunciation

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Apr 13, 2009 11:20 pm

Jechbi wrote:Not sure if this is too much opinion for the Classical Theravada forum, so I apologize if this is off topic. But I love to learn more about the perfections.

Why would it be off topic?
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: renunciation

Postby Ben » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:17 am

Peter wrote:I came across this just now and it struck me as very relevant for my own practice and perhaps relevant to many people here as well. I have noticed the teachings on renunciation bother many lay people. In the scriptures we can see it bothered lay people even back during the time of the Buddha. Tapussa the householder put it this way:

Tapussa in AN 9.41 wrote:We are householders who indulge in sensuality, delight in sensuality, enjoy sensuality, rejoice in sensuality. For us — indulging in sensuality, delighting in sensuality, enjoying sensuality, rejoicing in sensuality — renunciation seems like a sheer drop-off. Yet I've heard that in this doctrine & discipline the hearts of the very young monks leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace. So right here is where this doctrine & discipline is contrary to the great mass of people: i.e., [this issue of] renunciation.


And here we see the Buddha could sympathize with this.

Buddha in AN 9.41 wrote:So it is. So it is. Even I myself, before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, thought: 'Renunciation is good. Seclusion is good.' But my heart didn't leap up at renunciation, didn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.


So what did the Buddha recommend? He continues...

Buddha in AN 9.41 wrote:The thought occurred to me: 'What is the cause, what is the reason, why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace?' Then the thought occurred to me: 'I haven't seen the drawback of sensual pleasures; I haven't pursued [that theme]. I haven't understood the reward of renunciation; I haven't familiarized myself with it. That's why my heart doesn't leap up at renunciation, doesn't grow confident, steadfast, or firm, seeing it as peace.'

Then the thought occurred to me: 'If, having seen the drawback of sensual pleasures, I were to pursue that theme; and if, having understood the reward of renunciation, I were to familiarize myself with it, there's the possibility that my heart would leap up at renunciation, grow confident, steadfast, & firm, seeing it as peace.'


I take from this that the drawbacks of sensual pleasures and the rewards of renunciation are not obvious. One must devote attention to their contemplation.


Well said, Peter, well said!
Thanks for raising this very important topic.
Ben
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- Heraclitus


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Re: renunciation

Postby Jechbi » Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:26 am

Peter wrote:Why would it be off topic?
The Classical Theravada forums have some additional guidelines that I sometimes skirt without meaning to, cuz I have a lot of opinions that I like to toss out there.

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But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: renunciation

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:35 am

Greetings,

Here's a sutta where the former Buddha Kassapa speaks in praise of the lay supporter Ghatikara and the way he has renounced worldly pleasures whilst still remaining a householder supporting his parents.

Extract from MN 81 - Ghatikara Sutta
http://www.vipassana.info/081-ghatikara-e1.htm

KingKikiKaasiraajaa took a low seat and siting said thus to the Blessed One: Venerable sir, may the Blessed One accept to spend the rains in Benares, I will attend on the Blessed One and the community in this manner. The Blessed One Kassapa perfect and rightfully enlightened said I have already accepted to spend the rains. King Kiki Kaasiraajaa entreated the Blessed One up to the third time and the Blessed One Kassapa said I have already accepted to spend the rains. Then king Kiki Kaasiraajaa was displeased and unpleasant, thinking, the Blessed One Kassapa perfect rightfully enlightened does not accept my invitation. He asked the Blessed One Kassapa.Venerable sir, is there some other enticing supporter? Great king, in the chief village, Vebhalinga there is a potter named Ghatikara, he is my chief supporter. To you, great king there is a change in the mind (* and displeasure thinking the Blessed One Kassapa does not accept my invitation to spend the rains in Benares. To the potter Ghatikara, such a thing does not happen, and will not happen. Great king, the potter Ghatikara has taken refuge in the enlightenment, in the Teaching and the Community of bhikkhus. Abstains from destroying life, abstains from taking what is not given, abstains from misbehaviour in sexuality, abstains from telling lies and abstains from intoxicating drinks. Great king, the potter Ghatikara has unwavering faith in Enlightenment, in the Teaching and the Community of bhikkhus. Is endowed with the virtues of the noble ones. Great king, the potter Ghatiara has overcome doubts about unpleasantness, about the arising of unpleasantness, about the cessation of unpleasantness and the path to the cessation of unpleasantness. Great king, the potter Ghatikara takes one meal per day, is virtuous and leads a holy life. Great king, he has put aside gold and gems, soverign gold and silver. He does not till the ground with a mammoty or with his hand. He puts rats, mice and dogs into a box in a friendly manner and puts the left overs of rice, green grams or chick peas into it and leaves them saying take away whatever you wish. Great king, the potter Ghatikara supports his blind decayed mother and father. Great king, the potter Ghatikara has destroyed the five lower bonds to the sensual world, is born spontaneously, will not proceed from that world and will extinguish in that same birth.


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)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: renunciation

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:36 am

:goodpost:
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Re: renunciation

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:04 am

I think that Sutta is incredibly inspiring. Not only is Ghatikara a non-returner still supporting his family but he drags the future Buddha Gotama by the hair to see Kassapa... There's a nice talk about it by Ajahn Brahm at http://www.bswa.org/audio/podcast/SuttaStudy.rss.php

Check out them meeting up again in Samyutta Nikaya 1:50 {s i 35-36} (page 125 in Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation).

Metta
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Re: renunciation

Postby appicchato » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:26 am

Drolma wrote:Getting what you want, and avoiding getting what you do not want
Wanting (instant) happiness, and not wanting unhappiness
Wanting fame, and not wanting to be unknown
Wanting praise, and not wanting blame.

Hi Drolma,

Curious as to the meaning/purpose of this quote... :shrug:
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Re: renunciation

Postby Dan74 » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:45 am

The eight worldly winds?

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Re: renunciation

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:47 am

Perhaps I've gotten misinformation. That certainly seems to be the case! You can disregard what I've written.

But I'm all for renunciation :thumbsup:
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Re: renunciation

Postby Fede » Tue Apr 14, 2009 10:26 am

I'm not disregarding it. Whatever it was - dharma, drama or wind - I see the lesson in it......

:reading:

:namaste:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: renunciation

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:15 pm

appicchato wrote:
Drolma wrote:Getting what you want, and avoiding getting what you do not want
Wanting (instant) happiness, and not wanting unhappiness
Wanting fame, and not wanting to be unknown
Wanting praise, and not wanting blame.

Hi Drolma,

Curious as to the meaning/purpose of this quote... :shrug:

Drolma strives to learn to renounce these things.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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Re: renunciation

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:03 pm

Thanks Fede and Peter, I got a little self-conscious :embarassed:

:toast:
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Re: renunciation

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:46 pm

Hi,

Not to lower the tone of the discussion, but I'd be interested in some perspectives on this topic as it relates to sex within a relationship. Does the average Theravadin lay practitioner, married or in a long-term relationship, aspire to minimizing or eliminating sex? Or are efforts focused more on avoiding misconduct (adultery, etc)?

I'm aware that celibacy isn't required of laypeople. Still, many teachings and meditative practices are designed to introduce disenchantment with physical form, as part of a systematic program of eliminating desire. This can be very helpful in containing one's free-floating lust, but what about the potential impact within a marriage? Practically speaking, I'm not sure how one can meditate on the filth and degradation of the body and then jump happily into the sack with the missus or hubby.

It seems to me that devoted contemplation of the drawbacks of sensual pleasures and the rewards of renunciation could lead to arguments with one's partner -- unless, of course, that person is also a Theravadin with similar goals.

How does a non-celibate Theravadin practitioner handle this apparent conflict of interest?

I posted a similar question on E-sangha awhile back (http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showtopic=87007&hl=), but the responses were mostly from non-Theravadins -- thanks Fede, though, for your comment!. Again, don't mean to sound like a hormonal school kid, but it is a question that continues to bug me.
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:34 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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