Practical Companion – 22

Renunciation – Part 1

This series, Practical Companion is for intermediate practitioners. So typically, people can become very uneasy with the word renunciation. After all, we are taught to cherish our career, family, self, wealth, etc. Therefore, from the mundane perspective, renunciation seems wrong.

In the Buddhist world, many lay followers will simply brush this subject away. “Oh, that teaching is for the monks and nuns.” That is fine. After all, Buddha only taught according to his listener’s ability. So if the word renunciation sounds like a bad idea to you, then you shouldn’t read this post and be distressed by it.

Following the practice of contemplating the faults of Samsara (6 realms), this practice is like grabbing the bull’s horns. Scripturally, this practice can be traced back to the 4 Noble Truths. Since the cause of suffering is grasping, attachment, and craving; the solution is to simply let go.

BUT before, we start learning about renunciation, it is important for us to learn Loving-Kindness (Metta).

My teacher simply said that Metta Meditation will help to soften the mind. At that time, I did not quite understand. Let us examine why it is important to learn Metta in our spiritual practice. What is softening our minds?

When we hear the word renunciation, most beginners will mentally jump to a type of “bitter” conclusion. This is because we are not ready for it. It seems like a bitter pill to swallow. Like a child being told to leave his toys to eat his meal, Instead of placing the toy down gently, he throws it onto the ground in a fit.

We may not exhibit the same straightforwardness as a child, but our minds may subconsciously adopt a type of “destructive attitude” or an “annihilating” type of letting go. It is a very subtle mental positioning. This is because our minds tend to try and understand a topic by jumping to polar conclusions. Which is very bad for Buddhist practice. So always remember one important Buddhist catchphrase, “MIDDLE PATH”

Let us look at the following example to understand how a “destructive” letting go can be bad.

When we say let go of attachment to our body and self; the worst case scenario is for a practitioner to go to the extreme of neglecting his body and health. This is a good example of a destructive attitude. Like that child smashing his toy onto the ground.

Therefore, beginners should learn the concept of the middle path to avoid any misguided views. In addition to that, Metta Meditation equips our minds with unconditional goodwill and kindness. That way we learn how to be kind to ourselves and others.

It is good to revise about the middle path and Metta Meditation. We will continue in the next post.

May all be well and happy.

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