We finished the chapter called “Renunciation.” Sounds like a Christian concept. How to understand that word in a Buddhist context? What are we giving up? You could say–and we did say–that every time we sit on a cushion, we are giving up our habitual tendency to ignore what’s there, in front of us. We’re giving up, as much as we can, for a while, the urge to turn away, to immerse ourselves in activities that allow us to stay unconscious.
So it’s not that we’re renouncing our lives; the intention is to renounce what’s getting in the way of our real lives. We’re opening up to life as it is. When it’s difficult, we’re allowing that to touch us and soften us at the core. It is difficult at the moment, in our country. We have an opportunity to work with that difficulty, to see the hurt and the fear. Pema mentions the practice of Tonglen, which is breathing in the hurt and trouble and breathing out compassion. It’s simply an intention. But it can train our minds.
Next week Joy will be leading our discussion.