Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog
Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog, where we explore the dharma, which we have been fortunate to come into contact with. In a word, what is “dharma”? We can say it is the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. We can also say dharma represents certain truths or “the facts of life”. But most essentially, we’ve found that dharma comes to mean an awakening of our own active intelligence about the causes of suffering and happiness. This process is ignited by the teachings we hear and catalyzed further by our contemplation and practice. Join us in appreciating and deepening our understanding of dharma through these excerpts by Mangala Shri Bhuti’s teachers and senior students.
I’d like to address the theme of renunciation. This word, this idea of “renunciation,” as it is meant in the Buddhist teachings and particularly in the Hinayana teachings, provokes wildly different reactions among people. People will respond differently to this word depending upon where they are in their lives, their levels of suffering, and with how “fed up” they feel regarding their negative emotions, or with the recognition of ignorance in their minds.
Aside from whether renunciation is promoted by the Buddha and by other teachers, there are some people who are just naturally inclined to the path of renunciation, whereas others are not. After all, renunciation is not a fabricated concept. Although the Buddha affirmed and developed the concept, the idea and necessity of renunciation arises from the reality of where the mind is. And this is something that is revealed inwardly to each person.
Once we are able to see ourselves clearly, we also see there are no basic differences between ourselves and all other human beings. We all experience the same basic conditions of being human: we’re born from two parents, we must all eat and drink for nourishment to sustain our bodies, etc. No matter how much we may wish to be unique and different from other human beings, we are all of the same species. At this level, we must accept that we are human and therefore share the same human condition as everyone else. We have every need that is basic to human beings, so we must face our human life as something that we share in common with all human beings.
When we can really accept ourselves as human beings with similar needs, similar conditions, and similar basic experiences as all other humans, then we can think of our suffering as human suffering rather than as my particular suffering, pain, or misdeed. Sure, this particular thing might be your misdeed, but it is still a human misdeed. When we can learn to think in this way, we can really relax. We can relax and accept ourselves as complex beings, with good and bad points, with attributes that we may find encouraging or discouraging. We see that these are all just a part of human life and human suffering.
Otherwise we’ll remain stuck in our own little make-believe world. And when we are stuck in our own worlds, it is very difficult to process our suffering in a clear way. Then there is no sense of accepting our suffering, or accepting ourselves. When we do not accept our suffering, the focus of our minds becomes, “How can I get rid of it?” But how is it possible to get rid of our suffering without the wisdom to understand it in the first place, or without having developed the skillful means to truly clear away our errors? Simply having this desire—wishing not to suffer, or wishing to be constantly in a state of happiness and joy—will not make much difference by itself.
Even among those who hear about renunciation, how many people really feel ready to simplify their lives? Your life has supported you so far, despite all the complications and difficulties you may have had. It’s like the situation of a spider who must always maintain her web, but becomes tired of it. She simply wants to let go of the web, no longer having to spin it, so she can become a secluded, solitary spider.
But we usually feel that what is there already is still not enough. We want more. We’re not sure why, but we want more anyway. We have enough to live, and even enough to live quite well, but still it doesn't feel like it’s enough for us. The mind is in a state of perpetual desire and craving—wanting to get and to cherish what comes from outside, no matter how feeble or short-lived it is. There is a quality of addiction in this tendency, and the addiction does not stop, as we all know. If the addiction stopped by itself, that would be great. But addiction rarely ends until something comes to a point of crisis. We have not yet reached this point with ourselves. We have not bottomed out. Instead there is a momentum—the momentum of wanting more—and in this context there is no renunciation. Even if we try to meditate from time to time, to simplify, or to be a good practitioner and abandon distractions and temptations, still there is no renunciation in the core of our hearts. There is only hunger—hunger with a flame that burns, without ever allowing the heart to rest.
When this is our situation there can be no renunciation.
Excerpted from Like a Diamond - Talk 1