Author Topic: Living a renounced life in a modern world  (Read 20953 times)

DSFriend

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Living a renounced life in a modern world
« on: November 09, 2010, 11:01:24 AM »
Samsara is the state of which we want to be free from and thus as a first step, buddhists seek refuge in the three jewels and hold the 10 vows. As we go along the initial scope, we are presented with the truth that renunciation is key to freeing ourselves from the unhappiness we have created "unknowingly".

Obtaining the right view of what renunciation is about is very crucial.

Is renunciation possible for a person in the modern world? How would someone attempt to go about achieving some form of renunciation.

In a nutshell, how would a modern person, having achieved renunciation integrate and live in this modern society?

Here's a teaching by Lama Yeshe on What is Renunciation?
http://meta-religion.com/World_Religions/Buddhism/what_is_renunciation.htm

Helena

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2010, 10:50:41 PM »
Dear DS Friend,

This is a lovely post and it got me thinking for a while. This explains why it took some time before I could write about this.

Frankly, I used to think that renunciation was giving up everything and denying one's right to live or to enjoy life.

Of course, I was seeing this through my very "samsaric lenses".

As time goes by, with more help from my Guru and Dharma brothers and sisters - renunciation begin to hold a different meaning for me.

It is NOT about giving up enjoying life or everything.

Before Dharma, I had different definitions of "life's purpose", "enjoyment" and "achievement".

In the past, my life purpose's was really to serve me and my ever-changing likes and dislikes. Enjoying my life would amount to when I get to have fun, how fun I got and when can I do it again. Achievement meant that I have found a way to allow myself to have as much fun as possible - without limits to space, travel and time, of course.

So, as you can imagine - renunciation would be deemed as totally vulgar in my samsaric world - a kind of death, for sure.

But with more Dharma learning and plenty of help from Dorje Shugden - my mind began to see more. It felt like it just opened up suddenly and my "samsaric lenses" started to collapse - along with everything else.

I think what I was finally opening up to ( and still am ) is the renunciation of how much I am attached to what I thought was fun, great and joyful.

In Dharma, we first empty out everything but what we are essential surrendering is all that is bad for us - our fears, insecurities, selfishness, etc.

But in order to even realise that we are actually giving up what 'corrupts and contaminates' us - we must know where it all comes from.

And that is a journey within our spiritual path - going inwards in order to look outwards.

We trace the symptoms to the root cause and eradicate the cause. Mind you, this will take a long while for some. Myself, in particular. But I am deeply grateful to my Guru who put me in this retreat which was equivalent to a detox of my mind's diseases.

So, how would a modern person achieve renunciation and integrate it into his or her life in our modern society?

Well, we can take a very simple example of say, how one is so attached to coffee, drinking coffee and without it, one would be most unhappy. But before one even realises how much one is attached to coffee and that attachment is not good for you - one must first realise that the coffee is not the problem here but it is our attachment to it.

Hence, one would remove oneself from coffee altogether for a period of time in order to see for oneself how deeply attached one is to the coffee and it is really one's attachment and not the coffee.

Without that first phase of abstaining oneself from coffee, one cannot see one's full effects of attachment to coffee.

After going through a period of facing this coffee attachment and "resolving" it - one would no longer be attached to coffee, even if one could drink it again after the whole "exercise" of renouncing it.

Because one has grown not to be attached to coffee, one has control over one's attachment. With or without, one is still the same - if not, better.

I am not sure if I am answering the question accurately, but that was how it was for me. In another context, of course - not coffee. haha

What I found is that I was renouncing my attachments and not my life.


Helena

triesa

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2010, 11:36:44 AM »

Is renunciation possible for a person in the modern world? How would someone attempt to go about achieving some form of renunciation.


One step at a time, I think renunciation is possible in the modern world. Like Helena pointed out, attachement to coffee or anything one likes, the objects are not the problem, the problem lies in our minds, how our minds see that objects as important to us and that we cannot lbe happy without them, as a result, we are very attached to that object and the moment we do not get it, we are depressed or become uphappy.

We can train ourselves to live, say, a few days to start with, without the object that we like/attached to , then we can slowly see that we actually can live without it. And slowly begin to realise how our monkey minds used to tell us that we could not be happy without it was not absolute.

In this materialistic world, every aspects of life are trying to get us deeper into all our "man made or marketed"  attachments. To practise renunciation is like sailing against the winds if one does not understand the causes of sufferings and unhappiness.

If we can simply understand that we actually DO NOT OWN anything in this world, we are born with nothing to this world, and when we leave at the time of death, we also do not take with us anything materialstically. So since we have to leave many things behind at time of death, it only makes sense that we should prepare ourselves, one step at a time, to become less attached to, say, even our husbands, children, money, houses, cars, titles, etc, etc.

Many would presume that if one practices renunciation, one becomes indifferent. That is a wrong perception. We can still enjoy whatever we have, but the moment we do not have it, we should be ok with it.  It is like as if one used to travel on business class, and one day he has to travel on economy class, he should be ok with it and without having to make a big fuss about not being able to get onto business class.

Practice one step at a time and contemplate everyday will help us to achieve closer to this realisation.



 

vajrastorm

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2011, 07:55:43 AM »
We can also renounce our pet aversions and dislikes and fears. When we work on letting go or renouncing our aversions, dislikes, fears and anxieties, we become ‘lighter’ and happier people without all this ‘baggage’. 

Take, for instance, my fear of curries as taking curries used to cause me stomach upset. In recent times, I have had to let go of this fear because without curries I found my food options, as a vegetarian, rather restricted. I must say that opening up to eating curry has given me a more interesting range of food to choose from!

As we renounce our attachments and craving on the one hand and our aversions, fears and hates on the other, we find that we are not identifying ourselves so much with these delusions and mental afflictions.

vajrastorm

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2011, 08:36:24 AM »
I wish to rephrase and expand on what I last wrote in my earlier post.

When we pander to our whimsical and delusory likes and dislikes, attachments and aversions, loves and hates, we are actually reinforcing( and 'blowing up' ) our already deeply entrenched sense of ‘I’. This is because we identify ourselves with our likes and dislikes. Hence, when we let go of them slowly but surely, this identifying of ‘I’( self) with these likes and dislikes  is weakened until eventually we find our state of mind becoming more and more selfless and consequently less and less dualistic. We become ultimately non-dualistic and totally selfless.

DSFriend

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2011, 06:55:33 PM »
Interesting tha Helena illustrated her point by using coffee and Vajrastorm used coffee as an object of attachment. Food! Nothing wrong with food but we make food an object to reinforce our attachments. No wonder the Theravadan monks eat whatever's being offered as a path towards achieving renunciation. There are more reasons than this point alone in begging for alms.

It is enriching to read the sharing in here. Read and rereading Dharma is such a privilege and does a lot of good for the mind.

« Last Edit: March 08, 2011, 06:43:14 PM by DSFriend »

Helena

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2011, 01:33:52 PM »
Dear DS Friend,

I believe that Vajrastorm used CURRY and I used COFFEE.

But you are right that food does rule our daily lives a great deal.

I tried to practice eating one meal a day - it did not last three days.

Hunger does affect us all greatly.

Hence, I do applaud the Theravadans for being able to discipline themselves to eating one meal a day, and still remain sane and calm.

I also admire the Muslim faith for their tradition of fasting for one month before their New Year.

Such deeds to help us appreciate life and what we have more. Also, teaches us not to be too attached to what we like.
Helena

Big Uncle

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2011, 03:23:30 PM »
Renunciation! What a big word. I love the examples and explanations you guys give. It is accessible and yet profound. Personally, I think renouncing has got nothing to do with giving up luxuries and pleasures or even trying to temper with attachment to these things. I guess that's because I am very attached person.

I heard of some teachings on attachment/renunciation and found it very appealing to my attached mind. That is to always offer all the little beautiful things in life to the Buddhas. If I remember correctly, generating that mindset creates merits towards achieving real renunciation. This can be expanded to everything around us and even towards people we cherish and love. One of the best contemplations towards attachments to our loved ones is to remember our time with them is short and to always try to bring Dharma to them or at least dedicate our merits to them so they are really benefitted. When we hit difficult times or situations, we train ourselves (no matter how difficult...) to always try to repair the situation or make amends with the person whom we have hurt. On top of that, the longer we stay depressed, angry or unhappy about something is a yardstick of how attached we are. The same goes for how gleefully happy we are about something or someone. I don't think it means that we should empty ourselves of all likes and dislikes but to train ourselves to remember that the pleasures and pains of life is temporary.

That is as far as I remember and I love this teaching because it is practical and it addresses the other spectrum of attachment. Attachment is not just towards people/things/situations we find pleasant but it is also about people/things/situations we have an aversion for.

DSFriend

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2011, 06:53:46 PM »

That is as far as I remember and I love this teaching because it is practical and it addresses the other spectrum of attachment. Attachment is not just towards people/things/situations we find pleasant but it is also about people/things/situations we have an aversion for.

Oh, how we are subjected to the forces of pull and push. Most of the time, we are pushing away aversion.. We react more to negative experiences than pleasures...which establishes the fact that we are in a state of suffering.

We are always fighting off pain, displeasures...by engaging in unending search for never-lasting happiness.
I suppose, watching what drives us each day and reducing that which doesn't make sense is a small step forward.

hope rainbow

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2011, 07:20:28 PM »
Oh, how we are subjected to the forces of pull and push. Most of the time, we are pushing away aversion.. We react more to negative experiences than pleasures...which establishes the fact that we are in a state of suffering.
We are always fighting off pain, displeasures...by engaging in unending search for never-lasting happiness.
I suppose, watching what drives us each day and reducing that which doesn't make sense is a small step forward.

The story of most people's life, of most being's lives (and mine too): running away from things and running after things.
(and within that journey: lying, being sneaky, manipulating, stealing, using snake tongues if not worse...)
Then shifting the projected qualities of things: what I ran after yesterday, I run away from today (and vice-versa).
What a circus!

Positive Change

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2011, 07:21:30 PM »
This thread is especially poignant to me as I am extremely attached for a person who deludes himself into thinking he is not. In that very perception I now know how intense my attachments are. I have gone through life justifying, sweet talking, out smarting (at least that is what I think!) and plain lying to most of all myself...

Having said that, I do believe it is possible to live a renounced life in a modern world albeit much harder or our 'degenerated times' phrase will not be coined. As with what is shared here, I do believe it is not the object of attachment that is the problem but our mindset that the object of attachment brings us happiness or causes us pain that is the root cause.

I recall a good friend who once told me:

"No one or nothing can cause you pain, anger, hate or even pleasure, happiness, love... because YOU yourself are the master of these emotions. It is YOU who choose to feel these emotions"

Perhaps he was trying to tell me something many years too soon!

triesa

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2011, 04:45:46 PM »
Oh, how we are subjected to the forces of pull and push. Most of the time, we are pushing away aversion.. We react more to negative experiences than pleasures...which establishes the fact that we are in a state of suffering.
We are always fighting off pain, displeasures...by engaging in unending search for never-lasting happiness.
I suppose, watching what drives us each day and reducing that which doesn't make sense is a small step forward.

The story of most people's life, of most being's lives (and mine too): running away from things and running after things.
(and within that journey: lying, being sneaky, manipulating, stealing, using snake tongues if not worse...)
Then shifting the projected qualities of things: what I ran after yesterday, I run away from today (and vice-versa).
What a circus!

I like what you said Hope Rainbow, Our lives is like a circus, what we ran after yesterday, is what we run away today.......so with that in mind, we could equate ourselve better with impermanence.....a way to reduce our perception of an object, be it an attachment or detachment.

WoselTenzin

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2011, 06:25:40 AM »

I recall a good friend who once told me:

"No one or nothing can cause you pain, anger, hate or even pleasure, happiness, love... because YOU yourself are the master of these emotions. It is YOU who choose to feel these emotions"


I believe that we will be the masters of our emotions when we are free from the eight worldly Dharmas.

In summary the eight worldly Dharmas are:

hope for happiness and fear of suffering,
hope for fame and fear of insignificance,
hope for praise and fear of blame,
hope for gain and fear of loss;

As long as we are not free of the above, we will never be in control of our emotions as it all arises from our attachment to our ego and self thinking that it is real and therefore always fearing some sort of lost and craving for sort of gain.  If we reflect on how we respond and react to others, we will realize that it has a lot to do with the 8 worldly Dharmas.

So how not to get affected by the 8 worldly Dharmas?  I am certainly far from being free from it but in theory I know for a fact that in order to get rid of that at the ultimately level, we need to seriously contemplate and meditate on impermanence and emptiness based on valid scriptural teachings and eventually gain realization of it.  Without that no matter how much we wish to be masters or be in control of our emotions, that will never happen.

Klein

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2012, 09:45:50 AM »
Samsara is the state of which we want to be free from and thus as a first step, buddhists seek refuge in the three jewels and hold the 10 vows. As we go along the initial scope, we are presented with the truth that renunciation is key to freeing ourselves from the unhappiness we have created "unknowingly".

Obtaining the right view of what renunciation is about is very crucial.

Is renunciation possible for a person in the modern world? How would someone attempt to go about achieving some form of renunciation.

In a nutshell, how would a modern person, having achieved renunciation integrate and live in this modern society?

Here's a teaching by Lama Yeshe on What is Renunciation?
http://meta-religion.com/World_Religions/Buddhism/what_is_renunciation.htm


Thank you DS friend for sharing this article. It's encouraging to understand what renunciation means in the Buddhist context. As Lama Yeshe stated in the article, "we should have less grasping at sense pleasures, because most of the time our grasping at and craving desire for worldly pleasure does not give us satisfaction."

The key here is LESS grasping. So it is the process of decreasing the grasping one step at a time. I believe this is more manageable for our samsaric minds to achieve than abstaining cold turkey. It is like going to the gym and increasing the weights as time goes by instead of trying to lift 100kgs on day one.

However, consistency is necessary to see any real results.


pgdharma

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Re: Living a renounced life in a modern world
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2012, 01:48:54 PM »

"Is renunciation possible for a person in the modern world? How would someone attempt to go about achieving some form of renunciation."

We all have attachments and hangups in our lives, our likes and dislikes  towards food, things, people, situations etc. We craved and grasped at worldly desires thinking that those things will give us happinesses. But all those are just temporal happiness.

To practice renunciation in the modern world is difficult but it is possible. We have to contemplate on death. At the time of death we will have to leave everything including our well taken care body behind so why are we still so attached. Thinking like this we can slowly learn to let go for our attachments. We train our selves step by step and eventually letting go will be much easier.