📖 Day 2 Cookbook Discussion Prompt - RENUNCIATION

Welcome to day 2 of our Cookbook for a Sacred Life virtual course!

Today our topic is Renunciation.

The Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön says:

“Renunciation is the same thing as opening to the teachings of the present moment…The ground of renunciation is realizing that we already have exactly what we need, that what we have already is good. Every moment of time has enormous energy in it, and we could connect with that…So renunciation is seeing clearly how we hold back, how we pull away, how we shut down, how we close off, and then learning how to open.”

QUESTION: How does this quote resonate with you? Have you experienced renunciation before?

Log into Teachable to access your day 2 teachings here: Day 2 - Renunciation - March 17th | Ram Dass Courses

5 Likes

.I am learning to “Give it up to God” It is a constant practice, I have experienced the joy of releasing an attachment to an outcome, but it is a never-ending awareness that allows this to occur.
I love the quote that “It is very easy to be holy up on the mountain, but it is much more challenging to be holy in the marketplace”. This is my sadhana…to learn to be holy in the marketplace.

15 Likes

Today’s topic speaks to me as I am sitting right in the middle of the marketplace. To be open as I move through this world and my work is a daily challenge. I occasionally want my environment to be just right to fit my time at my mat and my altar. I am learning to take the time now. To silently use Mantra, if I cannot speak it aloud, I can let the vibration wash through my mind when the rest seems chaotic. If I am open, attachments do fall away, and I can be content. Thank you for this space.

6 Likes

This explanation of renunciation is so sublime and crucial. We have such a limited understanding of the concept most of the time. We imagine it to be starving oneself, giving away possessions, being celibate, or being a hermit. None of these are totally inaccurate but really only true on a surface level. It’s not surprising that this is what we think of because those have been the outward trappings of so many examples we’ve seen throughout our lives: Gandhi, the various Desert Fathers of Christianity, the Taoist and Buddhist hermits of central China, the cave dwelling hermits of Tibet, the Hindu Sadhus of India. We think of those factors because they are so easily visible. What we can’t see with our naked eye is the internal transformation that comes from the renunciation of grasping and pushing away. We don’t see the real freedom many overt renunciates and everyday “undercover” renunciatiates have gained. Even if we meet them we often focus on the outward first but at the same time it is impossible not to recognize in some people the spiritual, mental and emotional freedoms with which they live. This is the true product of inner renunciation. It seems that one can have true inner renunciation without outer renunciation but outer renunciation alone does not guarantee inner freedom. This is a beautiful reality for each of us to embrace because it means we can be free right here in our daily lives. Real freedom is not restricted to those who leave families or jobs or lives or sexuality and human connection. What a blessing.

7 Likes

The most beautiful image emotion feeling in these words. So so powerful - grateful - thank you

Pretty soon those little…they’re like little beads on a thread. Like say, 6:00 in the morning every day, it’s a little bead on the thread. And there’s a bead at 6, and a bead at 6, and a bead at 6, and still pretty soon there is continuity across those beads that puts the rest of your life into perspective from that vantage point. Rather than you being in the world going out into the spirit, the game is to flip it, so that you’re really in a spiritual consciousness playing in the world. That’s really what the process is, the transformation for the initial part is to move the plane, the perspective, from where you’re sitting. So, a discipline; but not too violent. Don’t get ahead of yourself. And if you feel it’s too rigid, stop for a while and try other forms. Keep allowingthe eclecticism to go until you feel pulled genuinely into a deeper process. Pretty soon those little…they’re like little beads on a thread. Like say, 6:00 in the morning every day, it’s a little bead on the thread. And there’s a bead at 6, and a bead at 6, and a bead at 6, and still pretty soon there is continuity across those beads that puts the rest of your life into perspective from that vantage point. Rather than you being in the world going out into the spirit, the game is to flip it, so that you’re really in a spiritual consciousness playing in the world. That’s really what the process is, the transformation for the initial part is to move the plane, the perspective, from where you’re sitting. So, a discipline; but not too violent. Don’t get ahead of yourself. And if you feel it’s too rigid, stop for a while and try other forms. Keep allowingthe eclecticism to go until you feel pulled genuinely into a deeper process.

1 Like

I absolutely LOVE this.

I am a bhakta and also a follower of Christ, so I love finding the parallels between the teachings of Christ and other traditions.

When I read this quote, what I see Pema Chödrön describing here is being in the world, but not of it, as Christ taught. It’s anchoring the kingdom of God right here in our very lives, in the present moment in which we live.

In Luke 17:21, Jesus says, "Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

Not in the future or in the past, but right here in this moment. Not found in the “worldly” things like money, fame, or whatever most of society defines as “success.” But here on Earth nonetheless.

In the love we have for our friends and our enemies. In people’s kindness, generosity, and open hearts. As we hunger and thirst and work for justice and equity. As we bow before the Lord and humbly ask for help. And in God-given wisdom, love, grace, mercy, and compassion that grow within us, like yeast moving through bread dough.

The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount describe this so beautifully. I call it the upside-down, inside-out world. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

In the Beatitudes Jesus says “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” referring to the poor, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

This is a map, a geography. This is where we need to stand in order to be people who anchor the kingdom of God here on earth.

And, as Pema Chödrön teaches here, it is through renunciation of our attachments to worldly success/possessions/etc. that we come into the contact with the real, with the kingdom of God, with the true perfect divinity of the present moment.

When I remember this I feel relief. Relief from the exhausting grind of capitalism, the comparing of myself to others, and the constant feeling that I’m not measuring up to my expectations of myself and the expectations of others.

Part of why I love the teachings of both Ram Dass and Christ is because they help keep me more grounded in a larger perspective, a more cosmic reality in which what is important is much more simple and pure than what the ideas of worldly success deem important.

7 Likes

Renunciation has been a topic that has come up between my partner and I over the last couple years as we move away from our 20s and crave more stability in our 30s. For me the biggest shift was with my relationship with alcohol. Before I started meditating regularly I would feel the need to drink to be comfortable at any social gathering and would often drink to excess. I never thought of it as a problem but as I started to gain awareness through my spiritual practice, alcohol was one of the first attachments to drop away. It is kind of amazing looking back on it now because there was so little drama around it. It was just something I was finally able to think twice about before engaging with it and decided it wasn’t worth it when I knew it would make meditation the next morning more difficult. Meditation has also helped me move past my anxieties about exercise and body movement in general and has helped me develop a daily movement routine that in turn helps my meditation practice.
The harder attachments to give up are the ones like certain judgements of myself and others, anger towards certain political groups, and my attachment to comfort. I think those ones are easier to hide from myself and are more socially acceptable (sometimes even socially encouraged) so are harder to give up.
I have also noticed that if I try too hard to give up a certain attachment, that energy comes out as a different destructive behavior that I then have to deal with. The quote from RD, “You can’t rip the skin from the snake. It will shed its skin when it is ready.” Comes to mind often when I am in need of patience and self-compassion for where I’m at.

17 Likes

I love how this description of renunciation almost flips on its head what it may at first be thought to mean. To renounce something is to reject or give up, so it connotes a pushing away/against. It would seem then that a renunciate would be one who is against/rejects/gives up/pushes away the world. But here Pema teaches us that renunciation is an opening, an acceptance, an opportunity for connection. This seems very different. What Pema and Ram Dass seem to be differentiating is that it is not being in the world or even the world itself that we should renounce. Rather it is our attachment to and perception that this world is all there is that we can let go of. There’s a surrendering to true reality, a felt sense of a deeper holding that is here—really here—at every moment even with the chaos of this world swirling about us. We are here in the experience of both, and how good it can be to learn/grow/dance/explore/share/live/be in this world too. But while we are here in it, we can learn to see it for what it is, we can practice releasing our (heart, head, bodily) grip on that which will pass away to be palms open to the fullness of the “what is.” Renunciation is opening…wow, that will stay with me.

5 Likes

I am living the joy of releasing attachments to outcome, it is a daily process of incorporating renunciation into every experience with loving awareness. I appreciate your reference to being holy in the marketplace and I join you in that challenge.

4 Likes

This is a great quote by Pema. And its one I struggle with. She and RD are correct, we already have what we need within us, yet alot of times I dont feel like I have enough or am enough. Additionally I resonated with with RD was talking about with the idea of retreating and then being in the marketplace as it were. He mentioned that retreat is valuable, and I have never done one but hope to one day at Lama Foundation or in Taos or at one of the retreats in Maui or Boone. But at the same time I get what he means when he says you have to integrate it into your life. That right here and right now, in my city, in my state, its where its at. That the sadhana begins there. How one treats the cashier, or the bank teller or the person merging into traffic along side you. One of my favorite RD stories he tells is how he reacted to a lecture hall not having the type of microphone he requested and then him being upset, then flipping it as he always does, where the microphone is Maharajji and he’s trying to show him where he’s stuck. RD is the absolute master at taking those daily events we all experience and flipping them around to something we can work on as our sadhana.

6 Likes

What a beautiful reflection, thank you for sharing, Amber! I feel very similar when I read this quote. It makes me think of Ram Dass’s practice of Loving Awareness. How can I express loving awareness, even for the things that aren’t my preference in this world?

4 Likes

Yes!! What a great reflection. Thanks so much for sharing, Zac. I believe that story was told in the film Becoming Nobody. :slight_smile: Such a potent example of how we can all experience those moments of perceived “imperfection”, where we get frustrated and act, well, human!

2 Likes

Beautifully put, thank you Maggie!
Reminds me of when Ram Dass said “you can wear it like it’s a giant weight on you, or you can wear it like it’s part of the dance” - and I’d much rather dance!

2 Likes

Thank you so much for sharing your path, Emily.
I love this quote so much, such a potent reflection. We need to be able to practice loving acceptance for where we’re at in all stages of our journey. :slight_smile:

3 Likes

“Thats all there is to it. It’s very simple. Nothing to it.” And that little laugh at the end…ahhhhhh…
I appreciate this approach to Sadhana, and the levity that Ram Dass brings to it. It makes it feel more available and accessible to me.

6 Likes

I feel like I can resonate with this a bit in my everyday life, in some small fashion or the other. For me, those moment’s can be a great blessing… to see my world a little bit more clearer. :pray:

Thank you for reading and sharing :green_heart::leaves:

2 Likes

These teachings have reminded me that I knew this before, in this life: the offering of everything we are to God (as we define him/her/it/us), especially the things we struggle with. Possibly I forgot this because I was de-constructing 50 years in an inherited religion which did not serve me, and for a time, I let God go as part of that process.

And also, during my 3 months with Ram Dass, I’ve observed that some of my “grosser” habits have lost their appeal. So many years of trying to set rules and boundaries for myself, without much success; and now, by allowing the joy of spiritual practice, the rules and boundaries are not necessary. This is so beautiful.

But I’m also seeing the highs and lows that we talked about yesterday. I’ve been in a low spot for a bit, and am so relieved to know it’s not only okay, it’s expected and I can relax into it with hope and faith that it’s all working. Ah, so.

3 Likes

No matter how I seem to try I find it iso hard to release attachments even when I know they don’t serve me. I find renunciation creates even more resistance - even when I know it is a good idea to let go of certain habits. I wish there was. more clarity here as to how we do this not just that it is good to do.

I spent 50 years in a religion which some say is part of Christianity, and others say is not. It didn’t work for me. When I left, though, I eventually realized that I brought Jesus with me. He is my ascended master. He is the one I love. He is the one I reach for. It sounds like you are in a similar place. The teachings here about renunciation fit perfectly with Jesus’ teachings, but I never accepted the concept of atonement - his dying for my sins, in agony, bleeding from every pore - because I believe in being accountable. I’d love to talk with you sometime about how you have navigated combining Bhakti and Christ-ianity, if you still hold both. Thanks for reading.