7.5 mins read
Who are you?
How we think about ourselves will bring that out of us.
Even if you have only meditated once in your entire life, would you do me a favor and try this thought out for size, for it is already in some ways true:
I am a meditator.
What do meditators do?! Yes, exactly, they meditate. Whether it goes well or not on any particular day, they do it anyway because that is who they are.
If instead we are thinking, “I am not a meditator, just vaguely attempting to do it ‘cos I can see that it could help, though it is unnatural to me and I’m basically useless at it,” what will happen? We’ll stay useless at it. There will be no energy behind it, zero enthusiasm.
Also, if we think of ourselves as a meditator, life becomes a fascinating journey — meditators use what comes up in their day to feed their meditations and insights instead of letting it drag them down.
Who we are depends a lot on who we think we are and can be. We need to stop identifying with a meaty body and sad, heavy, deluded mind, setting ourselves up for endless suffering and failure.
Truth is, every living being has such deep indestructible potential, and Buddhism has the methods to dig out from the mud of the delusions this gold nugget of endless compassion, wisdom, and happiness. The sooner we think of ourselves in the light of our potential, the sooner these methods will work for us.
This is the last of three articles on renunciation.
Have you ever been to a party where you’re doing your darndest to enjoy yourself — drinking, eating, chatting, dancing, wandering around looking for people – but you’re actually feeling really bored?!
We’re supposed to be having fun so we don’t want to admit this. But after a while we think, “Okay, that’s enough … I’m outta here.”
We walk out the door to instant relief and fresh air.
This is like giving up on trying to make samsara work. We feel free because we no longer have to buy into something that’s not working. We don’t have to pretend any more. We have made the decision to leave this idiotic party. This constantly seeking happiness outside ourselves is not working. I want to be happy and free, but this samsara is not working — I am not getting happier and freer as the days and months go by. Year after year it’s the same. I can do better. I am going to do better.
In the context of renunciation, we identify with being someone on their way out already, feeling really happy. We are beings bound for freedom. We identify with this: “I am a being bound for freedom.” What do beings bound for freedom do?!
Life is short, Buddha said, like a water bubble. I was wandering alongside Bear Creek last week, watching the water flow and the bubbles rise and subside. Each one of those bubbles is like one of my countless lives in the continuous river of samsara – fragile, fleeting, but in which I have invested everything as if that’s all there is, completely missing the existential context.
We need to take a step back to see our “real situation” as Geshe Kelsang puts it, or get an overview of where we’re actually at. We have had countless bubble-like lives already, and there are countless more waiting to rise up from the clear light continuum of our root mind once this one pops.
If we wake up to that truth we can use this life to become a Foe Destroyer (destroying ignorance and other delusions with wisdom), or a Bodhisattva, or at least in a position to carry on with our spiritual practice in our next life. This will only happen if we put our spiritual practice first in this life.
Dream-like nature of all things
Ever had a dream when you fell madly in love with someone, only to wake up and think, “Hmmm, what was that about?”
The point about falling for someone in our dreams is that (a) it can’t last! (b) we are making the whole thing up! They were never really there!
So what is the point of all that grasping and sadness? What’s it based on? Just illusions.
As Buddha says in King of Concentration Sutra:
In a dream, a girl meets a boy and sees that he is dying.
She is happy to meet him but unhappy to see him dying.
We should understand that all phenomena are like this.
I find contemplating the dream-like nature of things – both their fleetingness and their emptiness — incredibly helpful for letting go of individual objects of attachment. It also works to develop the wish to let go generally of all the pointless suffering and sadness that comes from grasping onto something that isn’t even there.
For is it not so painful to grasp at something that is already slipping through our fingers and that doesn’t even exist from its own side to begin with? But that is what we are doing with attachment. Such relief arises from letting go. In samsara, all our dreams are broken in the end. It is about time we realized that and released our death grip on samsara so we can spring for liberation and enlightenment.
Meditation on renunciation
Here is a practical way to do a meditation on renunciation based on the two parts I brought up in How to lighten up and And we have lift off!
We relax into our heart, maybe do some clarity of mind or breathing meditation, and feel the peace and freedom of a settled mind — the natural peace of our own mind when it is relatively free from delusions. There is plenty more of that where it came from; it is our Buddha nature.
We enjoy it and identify with it, thinking, “This is me. I am a being bound for liberation.” I don’t want samsara. I want the pure land and liberation.
Part one: In the space of this concentration, we ask ourselves, “Am I a samsaric being at the moment?” Do I have a meaty body and a deluded mind, for example, and am I identifying with these, thinking this is who I actually am?
We can also take any problem we are having and go through the 7 sufferings to see if it belongs in that desperately monotonous samsaric pattern. If so, whatever problem we manage to get rid of, there will be another one waiting to take its place, guaranteed. And not just in this life but in countless future lives, just as it has been in our countless past lives — problems arising like waves from the ocean of our root mind, day after day and life after life.
Through a contemplation like this, we develop the wish to be free. This is renunciation. We can focus on it single-pointedly for a while, understanding that we CAN be free.
Part two: However, we cannot afford to keep following our attachment, or it will hold us back and down. We don’t want to be like a barnacle, or a bird with stones tied to its ankles, or attached to the prison porridge. Understanding the deceptive nature of worldly pleasures, and how our attachment causes most of our daily problems and prevents us from escaping even while we have the chance, we develop the wish to stop it.
We identify with being someone on their way out already, feeling really happy. We have made the decision to leave this very bad party, we don’t have to pretend it works any more. We become accustomed to this feeling in placement meditation until it sticks.
To conclude …
In this way we start experiencing the deep peace of renunciation. Now, too, we have a firm foundation for the happiness of bodhichitta, the joy of wisdom, and the bliss of Tantra. Our life will never be the same again.
Which direction we go in and where we end up depends upon our motivation. The meaning of our actions depends upon our motivation. With renunciation, even brushing our teeth can be a cause of liberation. Without it, no amount of virtuous deeds can get us out of samsara.
Renunciation is great. We no longer need to buy into samsara’s dreary, heavy, repetitive, ordinary identity with its endless chapters of suffering, but instead start to view ourselves as a hero or heroine bound for freedom. We can start really enjoying ourselves!
We are very motivated also to contemplate emptiness, the doorway out of here. Renunciation gives us the lift off we need. Without it we succumb easily to the laziness of discouragement and attachment to worldly pleasures because we have no sense of the alternative.
If you ever find that your mind is not moving in the direction you want it to, or seems to keep slipping backwards, check your attachment levels. Despondency, instability, boredom, frustration, and feeling stuck are all built into attachment to samsara.
Over to you: Thank you for your interest in these 3 articles on renunciation. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below.
How’s samsara working out for you?!
Transforming worldly enjoyments into the spiritual path
I definitely want to leave the party it’s not just boring it is very tragic bad things going on at the party, phew, other-worldly- like tornadoes crushing whole towns and killing little babies. And that’s the tip of the iceberg. I definitely want out. But attachment is so cunning, I often find myself thinking I would love to live at one of the temples and just delve into the dharma day in and day out. I fantasize about that lifestyle. But then I think I can’t do that because I have this house and mortgage and this job/career and I need the money because I have these pets that need me to take care of them. So I feel burdened and trapped by these things and it’s not feeling like I’m choosing them, it’s feeling like they are hooking me, and I feel trapped. Then the oddball thing is when I think about losing the job or losing the pets or the house I get sad and sappy! I’m aware of how neurotic this is but I can’t seem to break the cycle. On good days I just think OK this is where I am and I can patiently accept it and I can love the people I work with and love the pets and cherish them and take care of them to my best of my ability and look forward to someday retiring and living at one of the temples in the meantime delving into the dharma right where I am like you often advise Luna. So the article helped me in the sense that it reminded me that we can be optimistic about where we’re headed, and not identify with a boring and tragic party, but it’s tough because we are in the boring and tragic party right now and we are stuck here for intensive purposes are used for now. But I do think those positive things sometimes anyway. I often say to my pets I am so excited for our future, we have such a bright future kitties, with the Dharma and Geshla in our lives, and so many great teachers, we are so fortunate! And then I feel happy for a while. 😀
We are all in the tragic and boring party because we are all reborn as human beings — our life is a contaminated ocean that throws up waves of suffering wherever we are. We need to dry out that ocean. We need to bring wisdom and love into everything we do. Everything can keep us down or be an opportunity for us. Provided you actively love and help your pets with bodhichitta, feeling that you are helping everyone, you get absurd amounts of merit. If you remember that your job and house are mere name, you’ll reduce attachment and see them as simply a means to an end, and be prepared to live anywhere. Whether we live in a temple or in the regular world, we all continually need to be checking our view and our intention or we will all be in danger of wasting our lives and staying in this ocean of suffering.
Thanks again Luna,everything is bliss,take care.
I identified with ‘not being a meditator’ for many years. I had a whole list of reasons why that was, mainly ‘I have a short attention span.’ I do actually but what I conveniently ignored is I can hyper-focus when I am interested so no excuse really.
When I read the Oral Insteuctuons of Mahamudra that changed, I wanted some of that. I became a meditator and it’s wonderful.
Some days I have a very average experience in meditation but even then I feel refreshed and peaceful. On the good days … well … it’s just the most beautiful experience.
I wasn’t a reader until I learned to read, I wasn’t a driver until I learned to drive, now I just take those things for granted as being part of me. It’s the same with meditation now. I am a meditator.
Loved your meditation here I will do that today.
As always .. thank you ❤️
Dear Luna, I want you to ask how long it takes to see results after starting meditation. I ask you that, because I want to convince someone to meditate. I know that photo fronm your article with “come on inner peace; i don’t have all day long” and it depends from person to person, but still I want to have an answer… which is the average time.
Thank you !
Yeah, there is no average answer to this. Though I would like to say you’ll see some results straightaway if you actually want to do it.
Get well soon Luna and I hope we all get permanently well soon by developing strong and stable renunciation and get out of the monotonous prison of samsara 😊♥️
Hear hear … a little bit of sickness does wonders to help with that wish.
Can you fix my previous typos to this post pls? Just woked upped x
😄 Good morning Stephen x
Woke up at ridiculous O clock and couldn’t get back to sleep, went downstairs and automatically went on to Facebook, this was the first thing that came up, initially felt some resistance …”I can’t be thinking of dharma at 5:01! I need a bit of R&R first” Overcame the resistance, read the article, now I have no need to keep searching for but not finding what I want on Facebook. I can put all that bothersome stuff to bed and have a great meaningful morning. How fortunate! Thank you Luna. We could be Heroes 🙂
You are a hero.
Hello Luna, Thank for for this and all your very insightful articles – I really appreciate them. The last paragraph of this one really hit home for me – as boredom, despondency, etc. have often been my experience lately. I agree that these states are all built into attachment to samsara. From what I understand, we need the wisdom realizing emptiness to eradicate attachment, and yet attachment prevents us realizing emptiness – is that correct? It seems like a doom loop. What’s the solution? How do we get rid of attachment while we still have self-grasping ? How do we abandon self-grasping while we still have attachment? Over the years of practicing Dharma, I have let go of many objects of attachment and thought I had been reducing my attachment, only to find that attachment itself is still there. Looking for some encouragement!
Hi Jeannie, I will get back to this but, in the meantime, could you have a go answering your own question too?! I have a feeling you’ll have some ideas.
Yes – I think I kind of already knew the answer as I was typing my comment: I need to develop renunciation. The meditation from your article confirmed this for me and was very helpful this morning! To identify with our potential for liberation and wish for that instead of for samsara. To recognize attachment as the cause of suffering and wish to stop it. With strong renunciation, we get attachment out of our way. Thank you!
lol, knew you’d have the answer! And as i have a fever right now, i need people to be answering their own comments 😄
Sorry you are unwell; hope you feel better soon. Thanks for getting me to answer my own question! 🙂