Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

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Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby Dan74 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:47 am

Have you noticed yourself become more averse to all sorts of things in your life since becoming a Buddhist?

I have and it's not necessarily a bad thing for sure, if it gets us to drop some bad habits and develop more wholesome behaviours. But if we become averse to the sort of things that are part and parcel of our lives as lay people, in the hope that one day we might become monastics, then this is living in fantasy and not what the Buddha taught, is it?

I wanted to ask people if they've experienced this kind of a half-way renunciation, which is not a good thing I think, because we are not really renouncing, but rather we are cultivating aversion to what we do, to our repsonsibilities and our actual environment. So instead of engaging in a compassionate and helpful way we will be more likely to withdraw and make some sort of a Buddhist excuse for doing so.

Does it ring a bell for anyone?

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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby zavk » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:57 am

Yup... rings a bell loud and clear.


Dan74 wrote:So instead of engaging in a compassionate and helpful way we will be more likely to withdraw and make some sort of a Buddhist excuse for doing so.


The aversion also hides self-conceit, a sense of 'Oh, I'm more insightful than others because I'm Buddhist. I know better than to get involve in these sorts of things.'
With metta,
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:11 am

zavk wrote:Yup... rings a bell loud and clear.


Dan74 wrote:So instead of engaging in a compassionate and helpful way we will be more likely to withdraw and make some sort of a Buddhist excuse for doing so.


The aversion also hides self-conceit, a sense of 'Oh, I'm more insightful than others because I'm Buddhist. I know better than to get involve in these sorts of things.'
Damned self-conceit. I am sure glad I don't have it like some other people.
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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:29 am

As long as it makes you practise harder, I think it is OK to contemplate the repulsive aspects of sex, food, and other sensual pleasures. If you regard them as beautiful, pleasant, and desirable, then you won't be able to renounce them or overcome attachment to them.
Whoever lives contemplating pleasant things, with senses unrestrained,
in food immoderate, indolent, inactive,
him verily Māra overthrows, as the wind (overthrows) a weak tree.

Whoever lives contemplating “the Impurities”, with senses restrained,
in food moderate, full of faith, full of sustained energy,
him Māra overthrows not, as the wind (does not overthrow) a rocky mountain. (Dhp vv 7-8")

You do have to be wary though — it depends on your temperament. If you are grumpy and irascible by nature, and prone to aversion, contemplation of repulsiveness is not the right meditation object for you. It is suitable for those prone to lust and attachment. For those with the aversion temperament (dosa-carita) it is better to practise recollection of the Buddha's qualities (Buddhānussati) or loving-kindness (metta). Mindfulness meditation (satipatthāna) is beneficial for all types. That is, if you are mindful of the aversion to worldly affairs, then you can gain insight into the nature of the mental process that gives rise to aversion.

When aversion is present, he knows, “There is a mind with aversion.” sadosaṃ vā cittaṃ ‘Sadosaṃ citta’nti pajānāti.’

He abides knowing the origination and dissolution factors (of aversion). samudayadhammānupassī vā cittasmiṃ viharati,
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:33 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:As long as it makes you practise harder, I think it is OK to contemplate the repulsive aspects of sex, food, and other sensual pleasures.
The only caveat would be with these sort of contemplations is they should be done with the guidance of a teacher. All too easy to get into some sticky mind states.
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
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby Ben » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:37 am

Hi Dan
I think its a bit more complex than inadvertently developing subtle aversion, though I am sure that does happen as well. I think that its quite easy to mistake equanimity as aversion as a result of either retreat experiences or intensive day-to-day practice when one reacquaints oneself with loved and desired people and objects.

As a case in point, it is quite easy to mistake a practice like contemplation of death, of body parts or of the repulsiveness of food as developing aversion when in fact its about developing equanimity so that we can see things as they really are.

A recent experience of mine, however insignificant, was to attend a summer school course on cuisine design following a ten-day course. It appeared to me that my relationship with the unique Tasmanian produce we were sampling and learning to cook, was not characterized by the same depth of craving that I had in the past. The lack of "passion", I noted, was interesting to say the least.

I'm not suggesting that subtle aversion doesn't take place and we don't excuse it within ourselves through some kind of conceited perception. I'm sure all of us, myself included, are guilty if not capable of that. I think its interesting to analyze what's going on within ourselves.
kind regards

Ben
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:45 am

Greetings Dan,

Dan74 wrote:Have you noticed yourself become more averse to all sorts of things in your life since becoming a Buddhist?


No, more the opposite... but I do set higher expectations in terms of Right Effort and Right Mindfulness in particular than I ever did previously.

This means "jumping on" unwholesome mindstates, mindlessness and papanca before they flourish and it's important to try and ensure that this corrective function doesn't leak into aversion. Here's something I read once that I found very useful at a time when the hindrances were becoming a subject of aversion.

Nothing Special by Sister Ayya Khema
http://www.enabling.org/ia/vipassana/Ar ... Khema.html

As we dislike our own dukkha, hate arises at the same time which results in "double dukkha."

Using insight into self-made dukkha as our next step, we have a chance of changing the discomfort within ourselves from dislike and hate to, at least, acceptance. Eventually a feeling of being at ease with oneself arises, without which meditation cannot flourish.

These are fundamental aspects of ourselves which we need to investigate and experience. Spiritual practice involves one's whole being and the exploration of our reactions, developing sensitivity and vulnerability to others and being able to roll with the punches. We begin to realize that there are certain necessary learning situations in our lives and if we don't make use of them, we will get the same ones over and over again. If we look back for a moment, we may be able to see identical situations have arisen many times. They'll continue to do so many lifetimes, unless we change.

Spiritual practice is not just sitting on a pillow but more an opening of the mind to what is actually going on inside. If that opening is closed the moment we stand up, then we haven't really been meditating successfully. It is not so much how long we can attend to the breath or the sensations but rather how aware and how awake we become. Then we can use that awareness in our everyday reactions and thinking processes.

There is the Cartesian view: "I think, therefore I am." Actually it's the other way around: "I am, therefore I think." Unless we can get some kind of order into our thoughts and emotional reactions which follow the thinking process, our mind will constantly play havoc with our inner household.

The realization of where our dukkha comes from must be followed by the understanding that disliking it will not make it go away; only letting go of wanting makes dukkha disappear, which means unequivocal acceptance. Accepting oneself results in being able to accept others. The difficulty with other people is that they present a mirror in which we can see our own mistakes. How useful it is to have such a mirror. When we live with others we can see ourselves as if it were a mirror-image and eventually we learn to be together like milk with water, which completely blend. It is up to each one of us to blend; if we wait for others to do it we are not practicing. This is a difficult undertaking but also a very important one.

Eventually we will create the inner comfort to expand our consciousness and awareness to an understanding of universality.


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: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby baratgab » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:57 am

Did you consider that the aversion arises not from the lay activities, but from the act of forcing them on yourself despite of the fact that you reached the point on the path where these things would naturally fall away? After all, it is just natural that our inclinations change as we go along the path, in the direction of less busyness, less noise, less needless interaction and so on... :geek:

(While I was a Zen Buddhist I harboured the idea that mindfully living the everyday life is just the best practice that one could do; but fortunately I managed to get rid of this idea, which I think might have prevented me from reaching any attainments in this life.)
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:55 am

Dan74 wrote:Have you noticed yourself become more averse to all sorts of things in your life since becoming a Buddhist?

I have and it's not necessarily a bad thing for sure, if it gets us to drop some bad habits and develop more wholesome behaviours. But if we become averse to the sort of things that are part and parcel of our lives as lay people, in the hope that one day we might become monastics, then this is living in fantasy and not what the Buddha taught, is it?

I wanted to ask people if they've experienced this kind of a half-way renunciation, which is not a good thing I think, because we are not really renouncing, but rather we are cultivating aversion to what we do, to our repsonsibilities and our actual environment. So instead of engaging in a compassionate and helpful way we will be more likely to withdraw and make some sort of a Buddhist excuse for doing so.


Do you really mean averse? or do you mean disenchanted? disillusioned? detached?

Aversion is never a good thing, but it is normal as you practice the path for things that once attracted or interested you will do so no more. If it really is aversion then you need to be fully aware of it as a hindrance so that you can gain insight from it.

When I first started practice I did so because I was so disillusioned with the world and my lot in it, naturally there was a lot of aversion I had to work through. As time went on I discovered there was a lot of joy in an unattached experience of the world, I discovered many of those things weren't that bad but my earlier attachment or reaction to them made them so.
"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
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby Dan74 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 1:17 pm

Great responses, thank you!!! :anjali:

I guess it takes a light touch and a subtle well-cultivated mind to engage in the world fully and yet remain untouched by the dusts and unswayed by the winds...

Likewise it is a fine balancing act between accepting ourselves as we are while maintaining an unrelenting mindfulness and the recognition of where we are coming up short. It is all to easy to either acquiesce in everything and rest on the (non-existent) laurels or become too critical of ourselves and others. Neither does any good.

Baratgab, yes, I've considered. There is certainly something to be said about not being afraid to make a big step or to shed what needs shedding, but I don't think this is what I was talking about. Also a good Zen student should know not to harbour any ideas (including what constitutes the best practice and attainments) :smile: I am sure getting rid of this idea made you a better Zen student! Besides great Zen masters of the past have not only generally been renunciate monks but have also gone through periods of very intense practice before teachings such as "Everyday mind is the Way" were appropriate.

Goofaholix wrote:When I first started practice I did so because I was so disillusioned with the world and my lot in it, naturally there was a lot of aversion I had to work through. As time went on I discovered there was a lot of joy in an unattached experience of the world, I discovered many of those things weren't that bad but my earlier attachment or reaction to them made them so.


:bow:

And then later again we may discover that it's time to let go even of those. Or not. As the case may be.

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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby LauraJ » Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:48 pm

Dan74 wrote:Have you noticed yourself become more averse to all sorts of things in your life since becoming a Buddhist?

I have and it's not necessarily a bad thing for sure, if it gets us to drop some bad habits and develop more wholesome behaviours. But if we become averse to the sort of things that are part and parcel of our lives as lay people, in the hope that one day we might become monastics, then this is living in fantasy and not what the Buddha taught, is it?

I wanted to ask people if they've experienced this kind of a half-way renunciation, which is not a good thing I think, because we are not really renouncing, but rather we are cultivating aversion to what we do, to our repsonsibilities and our actual environment. So instead of engaging in a compassionate and helpful way we will be more likely to withdraw and make some sort of a Buddhist excuse for doing so.

Does it ring a bell for anyone?

_/|\_


Hi Dan,

First off, great question. I've now developed a real aversion to false speech and gossip. So much so that it makes me feel a little ill to be around it. I hope that's normal :?

Kindly,
Laura
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby Guy » Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:59 pm

Hi Laura,

LauraJ wrote:
Hi Dan,

First off, great question. I've now developed a real aversion to false speech and gossip. So much so that it makes me feel a little ill to be around it. I hope that's normal :?

Kindly,
Laura


Now that you mention it, I think I have developed a bit of aversion here too. Last night some people were speaking harshly about each other. Even though they were laughing and joking and (on the surface, at least) it didn't seem to bother them - I didn't feel comfortable, I tried to be equanimous but I definitely noticed my mind reacting negatively.

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby Dan74 » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:05 am

Like Bikkhu Pesala above says, we should bring mindfulness to aversion as it arises and observe it carefully (and without aversion :hug: )

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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby LauraJ » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:21 am

Dan74 wrote:Like Bikkhu Pesala above says, we should bring mindfulness to aversion as it arises and observe it carefully (and without aversion :hug: )

_/|\_


I don't mind confessing. I'm just so ordinary :hug:
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Re: Half-way renunciation - cultivating aversion to lay life

Postby Dan74 » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:48 am

Ordinary :shrug: extraordinary :shrug:

I just know I need to have a shower and take a nap (3 hours of sleep don't make dan a happy man)

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