Renunciation: Not a Simple Matter

Ajahn Yatiko • August 2012

Renunciation is a lovely reflection to bring up from time to time. Sometimes people talk about how they’ve renounced something they were strongly attached to. They say that having renounced it, they’re now done with it, once and for all. However, it’s rarely as simple as that. Being attached to something means we don’t want to let it go. If we recognize that something is harmful, a desire may arise to let it go, but we may still have a difficult time doing so. Attachment and renunciation are a pair, and their relationship can be complicated, so it’s good to reflect on them both equally. When we’re attached to something, simply making a decision to renounce it doesn’t mean we’re done. It’s a process.

Letting go from the heart takes passion, questing, searching, determination, time, and cultivating the right kamma. Renunciation is something that requires commitment, time, and patience. It takes every opportunity we have to incline the mind toward letting things go. But we can start with small steps, letting go of little problems and complications. In doing so, we find that in time, we’re making headway on the bigger issues we struggle with; letting go of the smaller problems and attachments eventually leads to letting go of the bigger ones. We learn to let go where we can, renounce where we can and as a result, find peace where we can.