Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Renunciation - Part Five

The question remains: how does this strategy of skillful renunciation and skillful indulgence translate into everyday practice? People who ordain as monastics take vows of celibacy and are expected to work constantly at renouncing sensual passion, but for many people this is not a viable option. The Buddha thus recommended that his lay followers observe day-long periods of temporary renunciation. Four days out of each month -- traditionally on the new-, full-, and half-moon days -- they can take the eight precepts, which add the following observances to the standard five: celibacy, no food after noon, no watching of shows, no listening to music, no use of perfumes and cosmetics, and no use of luxurious seats and beds.

Today is then devoted to listening to the Dhamma, to clarify Right View; and to practicing meditation, to The purpose of these added precepts is to place reasonable restraints on all five of the senses. The strengthen Right Concentration. Although the modern work-week can make the lunar scheduling of these day-long retreats impractical, there are ways they can be integrated into weekends or other days off from work. In this way, anyone interested can, at regular intervals, trade the cares and complexities of everyday life for the chance to master renunciation as a skill integral to the serious pursuit of happiness in the truest sense of the word. And isn't that an intelligent trade?