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Friday, September 28, 2007

The perfection of renunciation

The perfection of renunciation -
Daily Mirror

Buddhism is a religion which encourages the lay person to renounce all worldly pleasures.and lead a life of a monk .During the Buddha sasana of Deepankara Buddha our Gauthama Buddha was born as the only child of rich parents. He was called Sumedha and he renounced all worldly pleasures and became a monk after the demise of his parents. He had no craving for worldly properties and donated them to the needy.He regarded all worldly comforts as fetters and renounced them.

After donning robes Sumedha told Deepankara Buddha of his intentions to be a Samma Sambuddha in the future. Deepankara Buddha who looked in to the future with his omniscient eye declared that one day monk Sumedha would be a Buddha called Gauthama.

The word renunciation means elimination of attachment. It is not an easy task to go in search of the noble truths. We have to first overcome the fetters that bind us to sansara. One’s parents, wife husband, children, sisters brothers, relatives friends and worldly comforts are fetters.When renouncing one has to distance oneself from sensual desires and be a complete monk. A Buddha to be realizes the gravity and dangers of worldly attachment, and takes to robes. A Buddha to be does his best to renounce all worldly pleasures as he regards renunciation as perfection. Out of the ten paramithas (Perfections) renunciation is the 3rd in order.

Renunciation is a topic that everybody likes to discuss as it is the period of rainy seasonal observation months now. (Up to November).

All sensual objects sensed by eyes, ears nose tongue and body and mind have to be abandoned to be a monk. All pleasing sights sounds (like music),smells tastes contacts and mental objects come under this classification .A person has to renounce all these to be a perfect monk. Gauthama Buddha defined all the worldly pleasures as a poisonous snake which binds us to sansara.

All beings continue to suffer as long as they experience sensual desires. The only way to escape from suffering is to renounce these attachments and be a monk .Renouncing greed though difficult has to be done in order to practice this perfection. Beings are reborn as a result of greed and craving.It is rather difficult to break this fetter. As long as one is enjoying oneself the worldly pleasures one is bound to sansara.Thus the being goes along the path of the cycle of birth and death…The only way to put an end to death is by putting an end to BIRTH. In order to put an end to birth one has to escape from craving. To escape from craving one has to renounce.

In the Jathaka story book (Re, previous births of Gauthama Buddha ) one finds the Makhadeva Jathaka story. He tells of King Makhadeva who told his barber that the day he finds a white speck of hair on his head he should be informed immediately. After the king reached his 50th birthday the barber found a speck of white hair and informed the king accordingly. The intelligent king renounced then and there.He abdicated the throne and asked his eldest son to rule the country according to Dasa Raja Dhamma (ten good ways to rule a country ).and left to the wilds and became a hermit.

Although King Makhadeva was intelligent enough to realize the gravity of the appearance of a white hair and renounce,do you think that present day kings would do a similar thing? Very unlikely. It is because they are bound by fetters and that they do not realize the gravity of it. They would rather consult a good dye specialist and seek his advice to dye the whitening hair. What a contrast?A person has to be rather intelligent to realize the gravity of sansara and renounce the worldly pleasures.Unfortunately we are not intelligent enough to renounce them.

If we were intelligent we would have renounced them long ago. But the sansaric fetters keep us bound to worldly desires.Do you now realize how difficult it is to renounce?

In the Daham Sonda Jathaka story also renunciation is depicted. If a renouncer tries to come back to seek the worldly pleasures because of food drink and clothes etc. he fails to reach his goal. The renouncer should not look back he has to go forward in search of the noble truths.

Prince Siddhartha renounced at the age of 29. He abandoned his beloved Princess Yasodhara and his son Rahula in order to find the noble truths.

Will a crown prince of today get similar thoughts?

No! Why? It is because he has not completed his Nekhkhamma Paramitha to renounce the worldly pleasures.

Nekhkhamma or renunciation can not be done in one day. Through aeons of sansara one has to practice it gradually. In practising renunciation, Bodhisaththa was able to reduce his worldly pleasures .thus he had more time to meditate and take maximum benefits of renunciation.

In the Vessanthara Jathaka story he did the two most difficult things that a person would hesitate to do. He donated his children Jaliya and Krishnajina to a Brahamin called Joojaka. Joojaka who heard that ascetic Vessanthara was renouncing everything came to him and asked for his children to be taken away as servants.Ascetic Vessanthara gave away his children to this unknown Brahamin with the pure intention of becoming Samma Sambuddha. .

The other donation was “Kalathra Parithyaga” which means the donation of one’s wife..God King Sakka who read his mind came disguised as a beggar and asked for the hand of Queen Mandree (the ascetic’s wife when he was a lay person) Ascetic Vessanthara handed her over to this disguised beggar and completed his Dana Paramitha (Perfection of Generosity) and Nekhkhamma Paramitha (Perfection of Renunciation)together.

Renunciation is a perfection that is quite difficult to practice.Renunciation has to be practised fully without repenting over the pleasures that one enjoyed during one’s lay life.

To renounce worldly desires and become a monk or nun is one of the greatest battles that one has to fight with one’s own thoughts.

The person who overcomes his mind and renounce the worldly desires is a winner.

May you and I be able to shorten our sansaric journey with the least possible delay.

Chandrani Fernando

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