Renunciation by Lama Yeshe
Dear student and friends,
I wanted to share this article about Renunciation by Lama Yeshe with all of you as it is so well explained. One can hugely benefit from reading and contemplating on teachings such as those below…
As Lama Yeshe says, renunciation does not mean that you throw away all of your nice things and then you’re renounced!! Instead, he emphasizes that it is, essentially, to not have the grasping need and the attachment for such “pleasures”.
No true Dharma can ever arise without true insight into renunciation. Therefore true Dharma practice only starts from having unwavering renunciation.
When I was very young, I use to wish when I grow up I can be like a Lama Yeshe. I love his style, his humour, his wrath, his love, his expressions, his bodhicitta. I love Lama Yeshe. I met him just once and it was impactual.
May everyone be well always,
Renunciation is a tricky word. In the Western world it has a connotation that makes us scared of losing our pleasure. I want you to understand that to be renounced, you don’t have to throw away all your nice belongings. That isn’t the meaning of renunciation. That isn’t only the business of monks and nuns. Anyone who is seeking liberation or enlightenment should have renunciation of samsara.
What binds us to samsara? What makes us unhappy? Our lack of renunciation. We are unhappy because we crave and grasp sensory samsaric objects. We are seeking to solve our problems, but we are not looking for the solution in the right place. The right place is where we loosen our own grasping.
It is good to know the point of reducing our grasping. The main point is that our grasping desire does not bring us satisfaction, but instead leads to more dissatisfaction. If we have enough wisdom, however, we can utilize the objects of the five senses, to some extent, and not have a negative reaction. As human beings, we are capable of judging for ourselves how far we can go into the experience of sensory pleasure without getting caught in it.
For example, many French people like to drink wine. The Buddhist scriptures forbid alcohol completely but not because it is believed that wine is bad. In fact, wine is beautiful, especially red wine, which has a fantastic color. However, because we are only beginners on that path to liberation, it is easy for us to get caught up in negative energy. For that reason, and not because wine itself is bad, it is prohibited.
The extreme grasping mind overestimates objects through projections that have nothing to do with reality. Buddhism is not saying that there is no objective beauty. There is beauty, but it is only conventional or, in other words, relative. The craving mind however, projects something beyond the relative level, which has nothing to do with the object. That is the hallucination. Without intensive observation and without perceptive wisdom, you cannot discover this. For that reason, Buddhism recommends meditation.
If we take our own daily lives as an example, we can see that we are caught up in small pleasures; we develop tremendous hang-ups and grasping about things of such little value. We think that we should always have the best, that we should always have perfect pleasure. This grasping attitude is useless and should be abandoned. We should actualize a meaningful, liberated life.
We are capable of examining our own mind in everyday life and comprehending which thoughts bring problems and are not worthwhile. This is the method of meditation. We can then correct our attitudes and actions. We don’t have to think, “My attitudes and actions are due to my previous karma. I can’t do anything about them.” This is a misunderstanding of karma. Don’t think that you are powerless. You do have power. Human beings do have the power to change their life-style, to change their attitudes and their habits. You can call that capacity Buddha-potential, God-potential or whatever you like.
Bodhicitta is extremely precious, like a diamond mine. In order to have space for it you have first to equalize your feelings towards all universal living beings. You need to generate a deep, sincere feeling of equanimity from the bottom of your heart. Without extending this feeling of equanimity to all living beings, it is not possible to say that you want to dedicate your life to others.
When you understand your own disastrous situation, with your problems of egotism, craving, desire, anger, and so forth, you see yourself as an object of compassion. You then remember that you are not the only one in this situation. In society, some people are high class, some are middle class and others are low class; but everybody is the same as you in wanting happiness and not wanting to be miserable.
Consider your relationship to friends, enemies and strangers. Your craving overestimation of one person, your hatred of another and your ignorant indifference to yet another, come from your own three poisonous minds of desire, hatred and ignorance. They are objects of your own mind. They do not exist externally. Like renunciation, equanimity has to do with inner experience.
In your daily life, you should practice equanimity as much as you can be trying not to have enemies and not to have exaggerated grasping towards people. In the space of equanimity, you can then nurture your bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is an extremely high realization that is the complete opposite of the self-cherishing attitude. Self-cherishing thought is like a sword you put through your heart; bodhicitta is like medicine. Once you begin to open your heart to others, you gain tremendous peace, tremendous pleasure, and inexhaustible energy. When you work for yourself, you are in the iron grip of ego.
What really matters is your attitude. The dedicated attitude of opening your heart to all universal living beings brings relaxation. In our lives, we don’t have time for meditation, and even when we try to meditate, our minds are sluggish. However, I really believe that making a strong determination that today, and for the rest of your life, you will dedicate yourself to others as much as possible is very powerful. In my opinion, this Bodhicitta attitude is much more powerful and much more practical in the Western environment than doing meditations in which you squeeze yourself.
The Wisdom of Shunyata
From the Buddhist point of view, having renunciation of samsara and the loving kindness of bodhicitta alone are not enough to cut the root of ego and of the dualistic mind. Practicing bodhicitta eliminates gross attachment and craving desire, but not its human problems
All of us practice loving kindness to some extent, but often it is mixed with fanatical love. This is due to a lack of penetrating wisdom, which goes beyond relative projections. You can see that even religious actions done with a motivation lacking in penetrating wisdom become mundane actions. Western religions seem to place tremendous emphasis on love and compassion, but not so much emphasis on wisdom. However, when I was with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Spain, His Holiness visited a monastery and met a Christian monk who had vowed to spend his life in an isolated place. His Holiness asked him how he felt when he experienced signs of good or bad things coming to him. The monk answered, “In my world, good is not necessarily too good, bad is not necessarily too bad.” I was astonished. When good things happen, you should think, “Okay All right.” When bad things happen, you should also think, “Okay All right.” We somehow have to be reasonable, instead of rolling with the good and bad in an emotional river. Our emotional river, our emotional reactions come from holding onto concrete pleasure and concrete pain. Worldly pleasure is transitory and knowing its conventional, transitory nature frees us. A Buddhist with some understanding of shunyata has a similar experience to that Christian monk through seeing that good and bad are relative, not absolute, and exist only for the conventional mind. It is characteristic of ego to project a fantasy notion of self and also others. Your image of yourself is a projection of your ego. Close your eyes and check this right now. Just ask yourself the simple question. “What is my image of myself?” It helps you to break down the gross concept of ego and banish your self-pitying imagination. You can then go beyond fear. Philosophically of course, we have thousands of analyses relating to the notion of self-existent I. But I am talking about practical, simple things we can do every day without needing to think about Buddhist terminology. Simply ask yourself how you interpret yourself Every time you ask yourself this kind of question, you get a different answer, because sometimes you are emanating as a chicken, sometimes as a pig, at other times as a monkey. You then simply laugh at yourself “lncredible! Fancy thinking I am a pig!” You will then be closer to shunyata because you will see that your projections are fantasies. You will experience selflessness to some extent because you will lose the sense of trust in your own ego. It will become less concrete. Our entire life is built up on the basis of dualistic concepts. Now, what does dualistic mind actually mean? When two contradictory views are always in the mind we call it dualistic mind. To put it simply when we wake up from sleep, as long as the dualistic mind is functioning, you will always experience some kind of irritation and never be able to reach the ultimate state of peace. One- pointed concentration is very useful because it cuts the gross dualistic mind. Recognizing and contemplating our own mind is especially powerful in eliminating dualistic concepts, which is why the Tibetan traditions of mahamudra, or dzog-chen meditation are taught. The purpose of meditation is to stop the irritating concepts of the dualistic mind.
* Excerpt from a talk given in France at Institute VajraYogini in October 1982 during a European tour by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
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