Practical Companion – 22

Renunciation – Part 2

As promised, here is a revisit to Metta Meditation. The video was recorded for the benefit of all.

So the gist of placing Metta Meditation just before we dive into the topic of Renunciation is to ensure that we do not approach the subject of renunciation with ill-will.

Now, let’s start exploring renunciation. From a modern perspective, we can describe renunciation as a re-prioritization practice. Throughout our life, we are taught to chase after various mundane or secular possession.

For example, we are taught to learn a skill or get an education. To prove our success in that endeavor, we strive to pass examinations or receive some accreditations. Then we receive some degree or diploma, etc. Most of us would agree that it was a stressful experience. Instead of playing and having fun, we need to discipline ourselves to study. Buddhism is not saying that we should let go and not learn a livelihood. In this circumstance, we would ask: “How many skills or degree would be sufficient?”

Then we start to earn money and we try to acquire happiness by buying various enjoyments. Again, the question is how much is sufficient. If our appetite is big, then we need to spend more. And that means we need to earn more. Earning more means spending more time in the pursuit of money. Not to mention, it also result in a fear of losing our money.

Besides, money and material pursuits, some people yearn for love and romance. Some yearn to be wanted and loved. We pursue relationships. Similarly, each relationship comes with certain expectations from others. Maintaining these relationships can be a source of stress. Naturally, time is spent building and maintaining relationships.

Some people invest their time pursuing respect, honor, power, or influence over others. This is known as pursuing fame. Likewise, such pursuits take up our time and effort. They create stress too. When there is a gain, there will be a fear of losing it.

All the above-mentioned are mundane pursuits, and renunciation practice requires us to recognize them as futile. This is because whatever mundane achievements obtained in this life will become nought upon our death.

From the Buddhist perspective, it is wiser to transform our minds so that we can be freed from Samsara. This achievement is known as Nirvana, or achieving liberation from Samsara, or gaining Ultimate Happiness.

The Buddhist spiritual practice is not a myth. It can be experienced in this life and therefore, gaining enlightenment is not wishful thinking about some mystical goals.

For example, achieving Jhana in meditation is a direct experience. Gaining insights from Vipassana Meditation is a direct experience. Realising “non-I” is a direct experience. In short Buddhist practices are not supernatural or mythical. But we have to meet the right teacher or at least read a book that was from the right teacher. Or read a sutta or sutra that is concise with the ways of practice.

When we truly appreciate Buddhist practices as a form of mind transformation, we will then be motivated to invest more time in our practices. That re-prioritization of our time to engage in the Buddhist practice of mind transformation will automatically mean renouncing some of our mundane pursuit.

It is a natural process and we have to set our own fulcrum point. Remember the Middle Path approach? Therefore, each one of us has to plan our lives according to our priorities.

Without the correct understanding, most of us would probably set aside minimal time for meditation. That is why we read about the faults of samsara and we try to correct our own perspective through contemplations and reflections. In a way, we are trying to learn and understand how the enlightened masters view their existence.

Hopefully, by doing such contemplations, we will be able to convince ourselves that it is better to spend time meditating rather than watching Netflix, or working a double job so that we can afford a luxurious vacation.

In conclusion, we contemplate the 6 realms of existence and their faults. We reflect on the impermanence of our human existence. We recollect how difficult it was to encounter the method for enlightenment. All these reflections and contemplations are meant to help us re-prioritize our time. They rouse our minds to train for enlightenment. Once we made up our minds to spend more time training for enlightenment, we will then happily settle for a simpler lifestyle and invest our time to do meditation.

May all be well and happy.

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