Renunciation & Meditation

“All of us … have sizeable egos. The ‘me’ and ‘mine’ syndrome and ‘if you please, I’ll keep it and you stay out’ attitudes create all the world’s problems. We can only be sure that the ego is affirmed when we’re thinking, talking, reading, seeing a movie, or using the mind in the interests of the ego. The great renunciation that arises in meditation is to drop all thoughts. When there’s nobody thinking, there’s no ego confirmation.

To start with, dropping thoughts will only be possible momentarily, but it is a step in the right direction. The spiritual path is all about letting go. There is nothing to achieve or gain. Although these words are used frequently, they are only ways of expressing ourselves. In reality a spiritual path is a path of renunciation, letting go, constantly dropping all we have built up around ourselves. This includes possessions, conditioned habits, ideas, beliefs, thinking patterns. It is difficult to stop thinking in meditation because that would be like renunciation, and it is a moment when the ego doesn’t have any support. When it happens for the first time, the mind immediately reacts with, ‘Oh what was that?’ – and then, of course, one is thinking again.

Renunciation is often thought of as being something for monks, nuns, yogis, or special people who live in caves, but that is not the only way to understand it. Renunciation means renouncing one’s ego aspirations, and unless we do some of that during meditation, meditation will not flourish. The ego likes to be entertained and reaffirmed constantly. When it is made to be quiet, and not do anything interesting, it objects quite vehemently and tries to circumvent the situation by finding something to support it, such a talking, reading, daydreaming, anything to keep it going. Unless we renounce these tendencies, meditation cannot succeed.”

Ayya Khema. “Being Nobody, Going Nowhere. Meditations on the Buddhist Path.” Wisdom Publications, 2016.

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

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