The Practice of Renunciation

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The Practice of Renunciation

Postby adosa » Sat Oct 10, 2009 1:59 pm

Friends,

I want to open up a discussion on renunciation to gather your thoughts and experiences. I don't see renunciation as something to avoid but rather as the key to a lighter, freer, and ultimately more happy life. But for some reason, at the stage I am at, it's not easy to adhere to.

* The first question I suppose is what exactly is renunciation? How far can one go based solely on willpower?

* Is "forcing" renunciation healthy or is going about in this manner really aversion? Can renunciation be stabilized through this manner or is the mind going to recoil and burn-out?

* Is the best method of cultivating renunciation strictly through the practices of meditation and mindfulness?

* Is the best approach the combination of the above two?

As a householder I find it difficult to cultivate a steady diet of renunciation. I've dropped many old habits and yet I seem to get stuck on others that I find I am really attached too. Patience is a virtue in many aspects and I suppose it is here too but where is the line between being too lax and being too tight?

I've also found that if I try to renounce too much, too quickly I'm left with a mind that seems to be saying "Hey! I'm bored here give me some stimulation!" Then when the mind gets it's way and indulges in whatever, it's left agitated, restless, and it suffers.

Thoughts?



adosa :smile:
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: The Practice of Renunciation

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Oct 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Hi adosa,
I don't consider it the right way to "force" renunciation. When one developes more and more understanding one leaves unhealthy things or unwholesome things or how ever you want to call it, naturally. It is then more an act based in wisdom and understanding. When one understands why things which should be renounced, should be renounced, one will automatically renounce those things and it won't be necessary to "force" renunciation. On the other hand, when there is not yet enough wisdom and understanding, but one has good faith in the teachings, one can "force" renunciation till a certain level and it'll be surely helpful on the path. But be that as it may, one has to develop those qualities and as long as you practice those qualities will be developed.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: The Practice of Renunciation

Postby Jechbi » Sat Oct 10, 2009 8:12 pm

A related thread.

And from here:
nathan wrote:nekkhamma

nekkhamma has no stock and trade
in kāmāvacara kamma made
samatha-vipassanā done
sampajañña won
sacchikaranīyā dhammā is displayed


My thoughts: Nekkhamma is one of the perfections. Probably no use forcing it, but gently prompting it might be good practice.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: The Practice of Renunciation

Postby adosa » Sat Oct 10, 2009 9:24 pm

Thanks Jechbi and Acinteyyo,

I poked around a bit and didn't see the other thread. Thanks for that. From it, I particularly liked the way Peter put when he wrote
The practice isn't aimed at eliminating desire. The practice is aimed at revealing the drawbacks of the things you desire, with the result that when you clearly see the drawbacks you won't desire them any more. Do you understand the difference? In other words, the practice is not "I will stop desire!" The practice is "I will learn to see clearly things I currently see with delusion."


I suppose after this step comes the insight that we really don't have to keep causing our own suffering, if we just let go a little more. Some of the suffering we go through is so subtle that it is not like putting a hand on a stove as a child (at least as we see it now). Intense suffering happens once, then we let go (in theory). The more subtle stuff we do again and again. Maybe as insight builds we become more sensitive and learn to stop putting the hand on the stove so to speak. :shrug:

adosa :smile:
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: The Practice of Renunciation

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:02 pm

"Just as in the last month of the Rains, in the autumn season when the crops are ripening, a cowherd would look after his cows: He would tap & poke & check & curb them with a stick on this side & that. Why is that? Because he foresees flogging or imprisonment or a fine or public censure arising from that [if he let his cows wander into the crops]. In the same way I foresaw in unskillful qualities drawbacks, degradation, & defilement, and I foresaw in skillful qualities rewards related to renunciation & promoting cleansing.

"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with renunciation arose. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with renunciation has arisen in me; and that leads neither to my own affliction, nor to the affliction of others, nor to the affliction of both. It fosters discernment, promotes lack of vexation, & leads to Unbinding. If I were to think & ponder in line with that even for a night... even for a day... even for a day & night, I do not envision any danger that would come from it, except that thinking & pondering a long time would tire the body. When the body is tired, the mind is disturbed; and a disturbed mind is far from concentration.' So I steadied my mind right within, settled, unified, & concentrated it. Why is that? So that my mind would not be disturbed.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: The Practice of Renunciation

Postby acinteyyo » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:32 am

adosa wrote:Thanks Jechbi and Acinteyyo,
I poked around a bit and didn't see the other thread. Thanks for that. From it, I particularly liked the way Peter put when he wrote
The practice isn't aimed at eliminating desire. The practice is aimed at revealing the drawbacks of the things you desire, with the result that when you clearly see the drawbacks you won't desire them any more. Do you understand the difference? In other words, the practice is not "I will stop desire!" The practice is "I will learn to see clearly things I currently see with delusion."


that's exactly what I meant
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: The Practice of Renunciation

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:56 pm

The second step in the noble eightfold path has renunciation in it. This is a change of attitude towards the world and sense pleasures- not that you can (or be able to) give up sense pleasured but the preparedness, the acknowledgement to do so- to a degree that keeping precepts become more important that the sense desired breaking them satisfies. This attitude I think is very important because we try to indulge completely in sense pleasure AND hope to achieve something which has its roots in the mindframe of renunciation. We are going to run aground somewhere. Accepting that craving is one of the roots of bad kamma and the cause of rebirth helps- or even the idea that craving ultimately leads to nowhere good. This is part of Right view, which we have to cultivate as well.
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Re: The Practice of Renunciation

Postby adosa » Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:30 am

I plucked the following quote from Bhikkhu Bodhi off of Wiki:

Contemplating the dukkha inherent in desire is one way to incline the mind to renunciation. Another way is to contemplate directly the benefits flowing from renunciation. To move from desire to renunciation is not, as might be imagined, to move from happiness to grief, from abundance to destitution. It is to pass from gross, entangling pleasures to an exalted happiness and peace, from a condition of servitude to one of self-mastery. Desire ultimately breeds fear and sorrow, but renunciation gives fearlessness and joy. It promotes the accomplishment of all three stages of the threefold training: it purifies conduct, aids concentration, and nourishes the seed of wisdom. The entire course of practice from start to finish can in fact be seen as an evolving process of renunciation culminating in Nibbana [Pali; Skt: Nirvana] as the ultimate stage of relinquishment, 'the relinquishing of all foundations of existence' (sabb'upadhipatinissagga).


For most of us sense pleasures and their pursuit is how we have always viewed the road to happiness. Think about Christmas as a little kid. The anticipation of finding all the goodies under the tree. But I can also remember the let-down after everything was over. The classic post-Christmas depression. I suppose this wiring is hard to turn around. Maybe this is why observing the Uposatha is so key to lay practice and why it is meritorious. It reminds us for one, two, or more days a month to put everything aside and give renunciation a whirl.

I also like this quote from the other thread. I think it does point to the c-change in thinking that even the Blessed One had to go through.

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.


adosa :smile:
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: The Practice of Renunciation

Postby Jechbi » Mon Oct 12, 2009 3:12 am

Thanks for sharing that, adosa! :thanks:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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