On Renunciation or the Lack of It

With respect,

Good Evening All,

Renunciation is a simple word, but in truth, quite terrifying. So much so that every religion known to have used it as its foundation for arising, has redefined it: Abraham taught it, Moses taught it, Buddha and Lao Tzu taught it, and Jesus and Mohammed taught it. Yet, here we are in a world filled with greed and avarice, with one religion after another competing for our dollars and our desires. Panderers all, I fear.

There are seven deadly sins according to Christian theology. What are they? Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Acedia (apathy, inaction), Wrath, Envy, Pride, and Vainglory (vanity). In Buddhism we have the Three Poisons: Greed, Hatred, and Delusion. In Judaism Solomon says there are seven things the Lord dislikes: pride, lying, murder, a heart that plots evil, feet that are “swift,” a deceitful witness, and someone who sows discord in a community.

What do you know? How are we doing? It’s not so bad. While we are a nation of lustful, overweight, angry and hateful people willing to wage war at the drop of a pin, and willing to double-talk our way out of pretty much anything. We smile. And if we are a people who sit all day long, then lounge in Lazy Boys at night falling asleep with beer and popcorn, well, we deserve it, right? I am not so sure. And even if we did, so what?

All of us, including myself, have excuses. We worry, we are afraid, we need this, we need that, and some of us just can’t live without that 900 inch color TV. Right.

We in the Clergy have been woefully inadequate or downright bad. We have not made America uncomfortable. In fact, we have done little to nothing to raise awareness, kick butt, and get people on the right track. Buddhist magazines are all smiles, slick and glossy and extremely expensive. One wonders who and what they need such sophistication, color, smiley faces, and pricey paper for: No Mother Earth news, no newsprint, no black and white, just plain slick. Zen Centers are no better, at least the Big Dynamic, We Are It centers with polished hardwood floors, mega gold statuary, and brocade dripping monks. There centers often boast teaching staffs that rival universities, and tuitions that, well, let’s just say, I am hard-pressed to afford a weekend, let alone a week’s sesshin.

Just where is that kyosaku when we need it?

Renunciation, the true Buddha Way, has us leaving what we know. It has us living with just enough, sharing, and walking the Middle way. American Express, I think, claims you cannot leave home without it. I claim, you cannot leave home with it. If you are stepping onto the path of the Bodhisattva, your path is the way of renunciation. Our path is the path of the uncomfortable, friends. So, I need to ask myself, “Do I really need that new this or that?” “ Can I still make my 18 year old car run? “ “What if I rode my bike more often?” Heavens, with gasoline hitting the $3.50 a gallon mark here in Las Cruces today, perhaps I should.

Be Free.


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