The Perfection of Renunciation - Renunciation begins with being content



The perfection of renunciation is the giving up of pleasure, clinging, and the ways of wrong thinking that are: sensuous thinking (kama vitakka), thinking of hate (vyapada vitakka) and thinking of cruelty (vihimsa vitakka). These unwholesome ways of thinking can be given up by becoming a monk or by the development of satipatthana. When someone gives up thoughts of sense pleasures, of hate and of harming others, he is developing the perfection of renunciation.

Generally people believe that one can practise renunciation only by becoming a monk, but in order to understand the real meaning of renunciation we have to consider the different types of citta that are thinking, be they kusala or akusala. We usually think in our daily life in an unwholesome way of the sense objects: of visible object, sound, odour, flavour and tangible object, thus, there is sensuous thinking, kama vitakka. Can we avoid thinking of sense objects with pleasure, infatuation and clinging?
The opposite of sensuous thinking is thinking of renunciation (nekkhamma vitakka). Renunciation, departing from sense pleasures, is practised not only by entering the state of monkhood, which is a superior state, but it can also be practised by laypeople in daily life. Did we ever consider to abandon sense pleasures? Are we becoming disenchanted with sense objects? We have attachment to visible object, sound and the other sense objects; we do not have to give them up, but do we want more of them? If we have not yet enough of them we give in to sensuous thinking, whereas if we find that we have quite sufficient of them, we have thoughts of renunciation.

When we continue to crave for evermore sense pleasures, it shows that we have defilements. We should ask ourselves whether we wish to have more defilements. Each time we are attached to visible object and the other sense objects, defilements arise. If we do not realize that we have already a great deal of defilements, the thought of renunciation will not arise. We may want to obtain still more pleasant sense objects and never be contented with what we have already. We do not have to become a monk in order to develop renunciation, but we could ask ourselves whether we have already enough pleasant things. It may happen that we, for example, do not wish to buy more clothing again that merely serves as beautification of the body, and we may consider what we have as more than sufficient. In that case we have renunciation in daily life.

We should begin to investigate and consider with regard to ourselves whether our possessions are already sufficient; we should become contented with what we have. If we obtain more than we need, we could give it away if it can be of use to others. In that way the perfection of renunciation develops. Instead of sensuous thinking there can be thinking of renunciation.


Topic 279