This recording focuses on letting go as part of effective meditation practice; various suggestions are offered periodically to foster relinquishing attachment to mental objects that arise as the result of craving and clinging. One suggestion for practice is to recall the drag that is experienced when immersing the hand into a stream of water–you are encouraged to become clearly aware of the stress of clinging to a thought as being like the drag of the stream and to simply release that holding in the same way you remove your hand from resisting the stream. There are reminders that there is no “drag” when attending to the breath sensations, and to notice the difference between the stress of craving and clinging compared to the ease of just observing the breath.
This talk explored the meaning and practice of nekkhamma, renunciation, an important capability to cultivate on the path of Awakening. Renunciation is manifest in the various “12 Step” groups as “Let Go, Let God”; this was rephrased as “Let Go, Let Dharma”, and involves the intentional turning away of attention on whatever mental process that is conditioned by greed, hatred and ignorance. Peter talked of two “layers” of renunciation: The first involves renouncing intrusive unwholesome thoughts and impulsive reactivity, particularly involving the five hindrances, and the second involves the practice of vipassana (insight) for seeing through the misconception of an autonomous, enduring self, that is, the process of “selfing” that is the result of craving and clinging. He emphasized the critical importance of the fundamental practice of noticing whatever interrupts mindfulness of breathing and then letting go of that distraction and redirecting attention back to the breath sensations, as this routine trains the mind in the practice of renunciation. Peter also asked participants to contemplate two issues involving renunciation: First, renouncing whatever interferes with establishing a daily meditation practice, and second, renouncing whatever interferes with the cultivation of the process of Awakening, either during meditation practice or during one’s daily life routines. This was followed by a longer than usual discussion of the value of renunciation and ways to cultivate it.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Understanding Renunciation
Here is a worksheet that can support the contemplation the two issues involving renunciation: RENUNCIATION WORKSHEET
This evening’s project is to use the worksheet attached below to list various beliefs, values and expectations we experience on a hierarchical scale, in order to practice noticing how craving and clinging occurs as well as how to activate and strengthen nekkhamma, renunciation, to free the mind from attachment to outcomes in daily life experience.
A significant portion of the evening’s discussion involved participants talking through the examples, while Peter commented on how that relates to renunciation.
Here is the worksheet developed for this exercise: RENUNCIATION WORKSHEET
Peter will be away for a few weeks. Various guest teachers will present their discussions over the next few meetings. These talks will not be recorded for posting. During Peter’s next talk on June 21, the Parami of Wisdom will be explored.
This talk explores the benefits of the Parami of renunciation, which is the ability to disregard any self-state organization that interferes with the process of liberation from distress and confusion. Peter quoted excerpts from an article that describes different applications of renunciation: from physical phenomena, from mental formations and from craving and clinging. The practice of noting what has distracted attention from breath awareness, then renouncing the distraction to redirect attention back to the breath was described as the fundamental practice of renunciation. Renunciation is related to detachment from mental phenomena and dispassion regarding mental phenomena, essential capabilities required for liberation. Peter then described the neurological processes related to renunciation, that is, an enhanced executive function of the prefrontal cortex, which regulates the reactivity generated by the amygdala and nucleus accumbens. This explanation was followed by discussion of the concept of renunciation by those in the meeting.
Here are the notes prepared for this discussion: THE BENEFITS OF RENUNCIATION
Next week’s meeting will involve exercises related to the practice of renunciation.