The Joy and Beauty Of Renounciation – Nekkhamma
Nekkhamma is a Pali word and usually translated as renounciation. It is one of the ten perfections of a Buddha. The Buddha certainly was pertfected in this and we may never reach this high standard he set. But that does not mean that we, as not-enlightened beings can’t try. Even only the intent to develop the paramis (virtues) of which renouciation is one, will be a gain for us because it inclines our minds towards the good. So don’t be shy, be the first to gain, be the first to renounce something.
There is so much that can be given up.
As monastics we made a great step towards the Buddha’s perfections, we renounced the worldly life. We gave up nice clothes, cosmetics and all sorts of beautification, hair and most of the common personal possessions. On December 23. two 8 precept nuns will ordain as Samaneries and by this renouncing the use of money – if all goes well for the rest of their lifes.
So what is left to be renouced?
Don’t think only of renouncing the drinking coffee or eating sweets. We can also give up bad and harmful thoughts, idle chatter, bad habits, attachments …
Where does the beauty and joy come in? Renouniciaton does not really sound like fun. But honestly, it can be easier and better than you think.
There is that story of the monk Bhaddhiya, formerly a king in the Buddha’s time. He sits under a tree and repetedly utters ‘Oh, what bliss!’. Other monks hear him and complain about him, thinking he is indulging in sensual pleasures. The Buddha qestions Bhaddhia about it: “Is it true, Bhaddiya that, on going to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty hut, you repeatedly exclaim, ‘Oh, what bliss! What bliss!’?”
“What do you have in mind that you repeatedly say, ‘Oh, what bliss! What bliss!’?”
“Before, when I was a king, maintaining the bliss of kingship, I had guards posted within and outside of the royal chambers, within and outside of the city, within and outside of the country borders. But even though I was thus guarded, thus protected, I dwelled in fear — agitated, distrustful, and afraid. But now, on going alone to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty hut, I dwell without fear, unagitated, confident, and unafraid — unconcerned, unruffled, my needs satisfied, with my mind like a wild deer. This is what I have in mind that I repeatedly say, ‘Oh, what bliss! What bliss!’”
Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:
In whom exists no inner stirring,
One, having overcome becoming and non-becoming,
being beyond fear, blissful, without grief,
is one whom the devas can’t see.
Trust yourself, you can much more than you think. Remember the 8 fold noble path: with right efford, right thought and right awarness we can raise the good intention, make it a firm resolution and go for it.
We all here at Santi are still thinking of what we will renounce. For myself I will try to give up Liking and Disliking. It is worth a try, even when I can’t get to perfection with it right away.