Courage and Renunciation

อาจารย์ เมตตา

อาจารย์ เมตตา

When looking at the qualities of courage and renunciation, you might notice that these are both important ingredients of any spiritual path. In the Theravada tradition renunciation is at the top of the list in terms of practice and training. For monastics, all of our life revolves around this theme. And the five precepts, the ‘training’ of the lay community, are also very concerned with these qualities.

A little while ago I had a conversation with another group of people and I noticed that renunciation seems to be ‘in the air’. It seems to be a quality of the time we are living in. The state of economy at the moment, the crisis we are experiencing, is affecting us in many ways. We probably all have a feeling of uncertainty, not knowing if and how it will affect our lives, realizing that suddenly we may not have all the resources available that we are used to. We are faced with a situation where we must live with a bit less in terms of material resources.

This might bring up some questions: Where is it possible, without too many changes in my life, to live with less, to need less? What has my life been like so far, in terms of how I spend my material income? If we connect this with our spiritual path, we can see that questions like these are related.

When you embark on a spiritual path, or perhaps suddenly find yourself on one, you will notice that when you move deeper into it, it is asking you for some kind of renunciation. It does not matter which of the Buddhist traditions you investigate; you will see renunciation as one of the steps on this path.

I do not want to go too much into the five precepts and how ‘we should practise them’, but any path you follow will bring up questions like: What are my needs? What are the values I want to develop in this life? What are the values of this path that I have chosen to walk? Can I live these values as much as possible and as much as I would like to?

When we ask these questions, this is where courage comes in. Because we do need the courage to change. We do need the courage to look into our patterns. To ask: What parts of my life need more attention, more mindfulness, more kindness or more compassion? I think the very first step is something like an internal check-up. And I remember having done that myself. What do I see in the way I am living that needs change? One important tool to use here is honesty. Can we be honest in relating to what we find when we do this?

It is up to each of us to make these choices, about where and how we step out of our usual, unreflected patterns of living. We usually become interested in a spiritual path because we see a need and want to change our lives. We look for ways to bring more depth, more meaning, into it. More of the values which are important to us. We look for ways of manifesting them, bringing them to life and living them in our daily experiences.

When you make these internal evaluations, you might find things that you really want to change. There are different reasons for this. It might be because they have become meaningless and no longer make much sense in your life. With these internal check-ups, you might also find things that are necessary for walking this path.

Most likely, you will encounter the qualities of kindness, empathy, compassion or others that will need to be developed further.

This reflection by Ajahn Metta is from the book, The Body, (pdf) pp. 149-151.

Joy: Rising Up and Going Forth

อาจารย์ ยติโก

อาจารย์ ยติโก

I was speaking with somebody recently who shared that he was finding it difficult to settle into the joy of life, to sit back and enjoy being alive. He thought that something was wrong with that. I explained to him that from a Buddhist perspective it’s not about settling into a joy that’s supposedly…

Rest in the Here and Now

อาจารย์ สุจิตโต

อาจารย์ สุจิตโต

The here and now that offers rest and peace is not a thought, sensation or state of mind. These things, which we customarily mistake to be the real business, continually defy and tantalize us with their scintillating changeability. Right here and now is the awareness that takes embodiment as locatio…

Awakening in Practical Terms

อาจารย์ ถิรธัมโม

อาจารย์ ถิรธัมโม

The Buddha didn’t talk very much about awakening, but when he did he referred to it in very practical terms. For example, the word ‘nibbāna’ literally means ‘going out’, in the sense that a flame goes out. You could make a play on words by saying, ‘The candle has nibbāna-ed’. But if we translate i…

Our Mother’s Love

อาจารย์ ญาณธัมโม

อาจารย์ ญาณธัมโม

According to one of the Suttas, it is very difficult to repay the debt of gratitude to our parents. The Buddha says that even if we can carry our mother and father on our shoulders for a hundred years, we cannot fully reciprocate their kindness. Even if we were to carry them, one on each shoulder, f…

The Buddha’s Autobiography

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

In telling his own story, the Buddha was not motivated by the desire, common at present, to simply tell “what it felt like to be me.” He gives very few details of his personal life, mentioning his luxurious and refined upbringing simply to prove that when he talks of the drawbacks of sensual pleasur…

Beautiful Work, Beautiful Mind

อาจารย์ วีรธัมโม

อาจารย์ วีรธัมโม

Whether it’s sewing robes or making a footpath, the Forest Tradition has a high standard of workmanship. But quite often we’re asked to do things we’re not competent in or used to doing. There’s a learning curve we all go through in the Saṅgha. If we’ve never had to do welding and we end up assigne…

With Subrahmā

พระไตรปิฎกบาลี

พระไตรปิฎกบาลี

Standing to one side, the god Subrahmā addressed the Buddha in verse: “This mind is always anxious, this mind is always stressed about stresses that haven’t arisen and those that have. If there is a state free of anxiety, please answer my question.” “Not without understanding and austerity, not with…

Return to the Core

อาจารย์ ปสันโน

อาจารย์ ปสันโน

From a Buddhist perspective, anything to do with other people can be considered social action: how we relate to the individuals close to us such as family or neighbours, to society at large and to the world around us. The field of social action expands out, but it begins with ourselves and our relat…

The Greatest Help to the World

อาจารย์ ชา

อาจารย์ ชา

The world is in a very feverish state. The mind changes from like to dislike with the feverishness of the world. If we can learn to make the mind still, it will be the greatest help to the world. This reflection by Ajahn Chah is from the book, No Ajahn Chah, (pdf) p. 40.