“Renunciation is not a spiritual destination, nor a heroic experience dependent upon great striving and will. Renunciation is a practice of kindness and compassion undertaken in the midst of the small details and intense experiences of our lives. It is the heart of meditation practice. We learn to sit and let go. Each time we return our attention to the breath or to the moment we are in, we are practicing renunciation. In that moment we have let go of the pathways of stories and speculation about what is happening, and have turned our attention to what is actual and true in each moment. The path of renunciation is essentially a celebration of simplicity.”
“We are always beginners in the practice of renunciation. Each moment we begin we are following the pathways of freedom rather than the pathways of sorrow.
Studying life, we see the truth of the process of change from which nothing is exempt. Understanding this deeply we live in accord with its truth, and we live peacefully and simply. We liberate the world, other people, and ourselves to unfold and change according to our own rhythms, withdrawing our personal agendas rooted in craving and aversion. Letting go, we liberate ourselves from the burden of unfulfilled or frustrated desire. We learn to rest in ourselves and in each moment. Reflecting on impermanence, we begin to appreciate deeply the futility and unnecessary sorrow of being lost in craving or resistance.
There are times in our lives when calm and balance seem to be a distant dream as we find ourselves lost in turmoil, struggle, or distress. In those moments,we remember the freedom of being able to let go, yet the intensity of of our struggle overwhelms us. In those moments, the first step towards peace is to recognize that we are lost. In those moments, it is not more thinking, analysing, or struggle that is required; instead, we are invited to look for simplicity. In these moments of complexity, letting go requires investigation, effort, and dedication – recognising the sorrow of being entangled.
The Buddha spoke of wise avoidance, a word that may carry for us associations of denial or suppression. There is a difference between wise avoidance and suppression. Suppression is the unwillingness to see; wise avoidance is the willingness to see but the unwillingness to engage in pathways of suffering.In moments of intense struggle, renunciation happens in a different way; by learning to step out of the arena of contractedness. We turn our attention to the fostering of calm and balance. Bringing our attention into our body, to listening, to touching, to breathing, we learn to loosen the grip of struggle and confusion. Recovering a consciousness of expansiveness and balance, the understanding of the nature of our struggle comes more easily to us and we may discover we can let go.
We know that fantasy is a poor substitute for happiness, but its flavour is pleasurable. We know we may suffer through exaggerated ambition, but the feeling of pride when we attain our goals justifies the pain. Pleasure and happiness are too often equated with being the same; in reality they are very different. Pleasure comes. It also goes. It is the flavour and content of many of the impressions we encounter in our lives. Happiness has not so much to do with the content or impressions of our experiences; but with our capacity to find balance and peace amid the myriad impressions of our lives. Treasuring happiness and freedom, we learn to love our lives with openness and serenity. Not enslaved to the pleasant sensation, we no longer fear the unpleasant. We love, laugh, and delight, and hold onto nothing.
The appetite of craving arises from the pain of disconnection. The pain of believing ourselves to be incomplete or inadequate compels us to seek from the world all that we feel unable to offer ourselves.”