The Need for Renunciation

When you see the harm that being a slave to your desires creates, it naturally leads to renunciation. Read the following article and listen to the suggested audio dharma talk, and then deepen your understanding of the teachings by contemplating the reflections provided below.

For Your Reflection:

1. Upon waking each morning for the next seven days, notice how many times your mind desires something. Try and keep an accurate count. The desire may be really small like wanting to stretch, or moderate like wanting a cup of coffee, or stronger, such as wanting a co-worker to go along with your opinion in a meeting later in the day. What effect does this seemingly endless stream of desires have on your sense of well-being?

2. Now imagine yourself having only half that number of desires in a morning. What would your mind do with all that extra space? Almost everyone spends so much of their energy in wanting — wanting out of habit, not out of necessity. Start to notice the difference between necessity and habit in your wants.

3. Think of something in your life that would be helpful for you to give up but you’re very attached to it. Notice your resistance. Observe how easily one part of your mind can see the rationale for renunciation while the other part wants what it wants. Now go through the same process with something that you’re less attached to. You will find the resistance is still there but it is not so daunting. Take this smaller renunciation on as a practice.

4. Notice that when you start thinking about renunciation how easily it is to get a case of the “shoulds.” I should renounce eating fatty foods. I should renounce arguing with my difficult sibling. I should renounce staying up late. Renunciation doesn’t arise from should but rather from the heart being motivated by kindness and compassion toward yourself and others.

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