The Path of Renunciation

The morality of helping all beings is the essence of the way of Sutra. The spiritual breakthrough that we experience through helping others allows us to wake up to our own happiness and to that of others. And this has to happen each moment, right here and right now. Morality of integration is the ability of the mind and the heart to perceive virtue, the ability to integrate virtue with the action of body, speech, and mind. It means having a clear and spacious mind, a mind that can perceive the purity of each object and situation in its true form. This is only possible if the purity of the object is recognized at the time of the actual perception. If the very nature of our mind is obscured by negativities, then we cannot perceive the pure form of any object. It is very important to have a pure thought from the very start. When we begin to see purity and beauty in others, this reflects the totality of our own pure qualities and of the beauty within ourselves. The pure nature of our minds manifests that very moment.

Ignorance, unwholesome attitudes, and desire-attachment are the three delusive contacts that obscure the truth of cause and effect from the nature of the mind. Regardless of whether an action is wholesome or unwholesome, every cause has an effect, and every effect has its cause. Wholesome actions of body, speech, and mind lead us toward realization of awakening. Unwholesome actions of body, speech, and mind lead us toward endless suffering. It is essential to understand this truth of cause and effect so that we can cultivate the mind and heart of renunciation, the mind that protects us from engaging with unwholesome actions of body, speech, and mind.

The mind of renunciation is the understanding which actions, concepts, and views to refrain from, and how to follow a wholesome way. It shows us the wholesome way of connecting with the nature of reality, rather than following the unwholesome doors that lead us back into the cyclic continuum of suffering. But the heart of renunciation is not just a concept. We can bring renunciation into our actions in a very practical sense. Our actions and this mind have to go together. For this we need to have the heart that gives space for the mind of renunciation to manifest itself in our actions. If we do not have this heart, this manifestation cannot happen.

If we have this heart but not the mind, then our situation is like that of the bee without the flower. The mind of renunciation can be just a mere perception of intention, but the heart of renunciation actualizes the intention. The mind is the seed, and the heart is the ground on which the seed can grow and come into fruition. If the ground is without nutrients, the seed might not germinate. The heart of renunciation has to have a quality of compassion and loving kindness to nurture the seed. If we do not have this heart, our determination to renounce may actually cause us to be too protective of ourselves. In this case, it may arise primarily due to our wish not to suffer, rather than the wish to help others who are suffering just like us.

In the classical teachings of Bon Buddhism, we distinguish three unwholesome actions of the body, four unwholesome actions of speech, and three unwholesome actions of the mind. The unwholesome actions of the body are taking life, stealing, and engaging in sexual misconduct. The unwholesome actions of speech are telling lies, slandering others, using harsh language, and gossiping. The unwholesome actions of the mind are having ill intentions, having harmful thoughts, and holding wrong views. The Buddhas of the three times have deliberately observed these guidelines throughout space and time in order to carry out the practice of a compassionate being to help others and to practice self-transformation.

If we want to transform our afflictions and be more compassionate, we need to be more mindful and pay attention to our every action of the three doors of body, speech, and mind. Through this mindfulness we are able to correct and recognize when we are acting out of an unwholesome intention or under the influence of afflicted emotions. In Bon Buddhism, the five deluded emotions of ignorance, attachment, anger, pride, and jealousy are called the five afflictions. They are called afflictions, because they are the causal conditions for the ten unwholesome actions of body, speech, and mind. Without overcoming these afflictions we cannot engage in the path of practice and attain the fruit of our path, the complete realization of Buddhahood. If we want to practice the path of a compassionate being we have to develop and strengthen our awareness and become closely familiar with how these afflictions affect and control us. By the strength of our awareness, we can reduce the effect and control of these afflictions. Once we recognize the presence of these afflictions in us, we can use skillful antidotes or meditation to overcome them.

By Tempa Dukte Lama