Renunciation Shouldn’t Come from a Wounded Heart

Student:  Rinpoche, I think the point that you mentioned – renunciation not coming from a place of a wounded heart – could you just elaborate on that?

Translator for Rinpoche:  When we are deeply wounded, the ego or strong sense of “I” is aroused and wants happiness and not to suffer so much. The problem is that our egos encounter problems – situations that make us unhappy, so suffering continues and becomes more dramatic and intense. Buddhist Dharma offers an alternative way of living, which begins with the view that everything is impermanent, fragile and changing.

Rinpoche: You can experience this feeling of being fragile and shaky inside because deep down you want something solid, something to hold onto that is firm, secure and doesn’t change. When we grasp to this solid sense of something and can’t let it go, we create wounding and more suffering. People and situations don’t stay fixed in the way we hope they might. If you have the insight that there is really nothing, ultimately, that is solid, only appearances, it can make you even more upset. Or, alternatively, you may feel more freedom because you see what you were grasping to was not so real or concrete.

Renunciation is sometimes hard to really know – whether it is genuine or not – because the ego can take this sense of letting go and use it to feel “I am special, as I see things are not so real.” This is not a healthy renunciation that includes an awareness of how interdependent we all are with our suffering. This gives us a sense of compassion and love in it because we see through our grasping enough to see others stuck like we were and want to help. Also, we know to keep moving on the path and that letting go is a long and constant process that defines the path.