Renunciation is for suckers

Enlightenment is a process that requires, not the complete dropping of everything that surrounds us, but an understanding that everything in our normal life is exactly where we need it to be.  Practice is in the moment.  Otherwise it is always a game of “if.”  If I only had the right zafu or cushion; if I only had the right teacher or the right temple; if only the people around me were more spiritual; if only I had more time/space/understanding. If only I had countless moments…

to relive,



recycle…and retire.


The Great Matter is not a game where we choose our weapons.  Guns or knives, Butch.  Beginner’s Mind or Vajra Sword, Butch.  Nothing that makes practice daring and revolutionary occurs outside of our own mundane lives.  There is nothing that we have in our possession that requires renunciation.  No family to desert, no vocation to leave and no outward journey to make.  Bouncing along the backroads of India, scaling a mountain in China or sitting in a small roadside zendo in the Midwest is all cut from the same fabric.  Nothing seperates us from the austere silence of the Chinese hermits, the devotionals of the Tibetan Lamas and the shouts of the Zen Masters.  Each melds with the soapy-song of washed dishes, the staccato rythmn of fingers on a keyboard and the gasp of surprise.  From when the Buddha inhaled as he first settled under the bodhi tree to his final breath; a subtle wisdom was released into the atmosphere. 

Each an echo in time. 

Arising and passing. 

The breath-to-breath transmission of itinerant, tireless lovers.


The subtle wisdom was meant to be experienced.  We place labels on it and we erect taxonomies and elaborate rituals but a simple miracle occurs at each breath that needs no significance added upon it.  No words to confound it and no thoughts to obscure it.  A simple, deep and all-abiding breath that leads to a compassionate mind.  A moment of contemplation.  There are no levels to master and no teachings to memorize.  Just allow each breath to manifest a spark of wisdom that illuminates.  This is manifested at work in a meeting; dealing with conflict at home; waiting in traffic.  It is alive while reading a sutra or writing a poem.  You can hear the heart of wisdom while sitting in the early morning mist or lying breathless…wondering





Enlightenment is not a place or a destination.  It expands with each breath.  When you release your last will it be a source of wisdom and compassion?  Or will it drift into the morning mist?  Awake but sleepwalking through this life.



5 thoughts on “Renunciation is for suckers

  1. I agree that we don’t have to go anywhere other than our lives to practice. You put it beautifully here. Often I forget this simple truth and have to remind myself. However, I find that renouncing “intoxicants” has helped me a lot to stay present and healthy in my life, not that this is necessary for everyone. But some mild renunciation does make sense sometimes.

  2. @duffmcduffee: I agree but see that renunciation is an organic process that can’t be placed or expected. I rarely drink and I see that reducation as a result of my practice. Rather than a restriction that I put upon myself when I “decided” tp practice. Practice is a personal process and one that will develop for everyone differently. I think we both respect that aspect above all else. Cheers and thanks for the comment.

  3. I agree. It seems like you are making the distinction between a dogmatic “thall shalt not” renunciation from the religious hierarchy vs. a pragmatic, individual choice that makes sense whether or not part of a religious or spiritual tradition.

  4. @duffmcduffee: Yes. This disctinction also exists between prohibitory interpretation of precepts and the affirmation/proactive version. Both are two sides of the same coin. By affirming a clear mind you lessen intoxicants without blind prohibition. I still take a celebratory toast or sip scotch with my father but rarely get intoxicated. This is a practice grounded in real life.

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