Here is a quote from a talk that Buddhist teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, gave on renunciation mind:
Renunciation mind is very simple in a way: we have renunciation mind when we realise that all this is not a big deal. Somebody steps on your toe – what’s the big deal? The more we get used to this notion, the more we have renunciation mind. Renunciation somehow has this connotation of giving something up. But it is like the example of the mirage. You can’t give up the water because there is none; it is only a mirage. Moreover, you don’t have to give up a mirage, because what is the point of giving up a mirage? One need simply know that it is a mirage. Such understanding is a big renunciation. The moment you know that it is a mirage, most likely you will not even go there because you know it is fake. Or even if you do go, there is no
disappointment because you already know what is there. At the very least you will only have a little disappointment.
Renunciation mind has nothing to do with sacrificing. When we talk about renunciation, somehow we get all scared because we think that we have to give up some goodies, something valuable, some important things. But there is nothing that is important; there is nothing that is solidly existing. All that you are giving up is actually a vague identity. You realise that this is not true; it’s not the ultimate. This is how and why to develop renunciation.
(From The Dzogchen Primer: An Anthology of Writings by Masters of the Great Perfection, Shambhala Publications, 2002)
Buddhist nun and teacher, Pema Chödrön has this to say about renunciation in her book, The Wisdom of No Escape -
“When we sit in meditation, we feel our breath as it goes out, and we have some sense of willingness just to be open to the present moment. Then our mind wanders off into all kinds of stories and fabrications and manufactured realities, and we say to ourselves, ‘It’s thinking.’ We say that with a lot of gentleness and a lot of precision. Every time we are willing to let go at the end of the out-breath, that’s fundamentally renunciation: learning how to let go of holding on and holding back....The Challenge: Go to a piece that you are working on - perhaps a place where you feel sad or stuck because it doesn't seem to be working. Remember why you want it to be there in the first place and soften your heart towards it - realizing your fear is the basis of any stuckness. Don't smash through - don't kill your darlings in this case - no, just soften your heart as if this piece of writing was an awkward teenager who was trying to tell his or her truth but was so trapped by their self-awareness as to become a stuttering thing. So soften, love that piece for what it is and then go in and write it again from that place of softness. Of renouncing all ambition for it except that it be the truth.
How do we renounce? How do we work with this tendency to block and to freeze and to refuse to take another step toward the unknown? If our edge is like a huge stone wall with a door in it, how do we learn to open that door and step through it again and again, so that life becomes a process of growing up, becoming more and more fearless and flexible, more and more able to play like a raven in the wind.
…Whenever you realize you have met your edge—you’re scared and you’re frozen, and your blocked—you’re able to recognize it because you open enough to see what’s happening. It’s already a sign of your aliveness and that fact that you’ve shed a lot, that you can see so clearly and vividly. Rather than think that you’ve made a mistake, you can acknowledge the present moment and its teaching, or so we are instructed. You can hear the message, which is simply that you are saying, ‘No.’ The instruction isn’t then to ‘smash ahead and karate-chop that whole thing;’ the instruction is to soften, to connect with your heart, and engender a basic attitude of generosity toward yourself, the archetypical coward.
OK. Meet you back at the ranch later for an analysis of how it went.