What does Buddhist practice help us renounce? Greed, hate and delusion.
What’s the payoff? Generosity, compassion and wisdom.
It’s not so much that the first three are discarded and the second three are obtained. It’s more like the first three are investigated so relentlessly that they (we) get tired and give up and reveal the second three, which just happen to be there all along. And all it takes is a willingness to let go of our fixed ways of thinking and explore new perspectives (technically known as Right View).
Dōgen: When we change how we think and act, we change the world.
Abhidharma: From a different perspective, it’s a different thing.
Suzuki-roshi: To let go is to find composure.
Prince Shakyamuni started this exploration for us in dramatic fashion – he said to Mara (the lord of death and suffering), “I know who you are. You’re me” – and thus declared his willingness to explore the possibility that the cause of his suffering wasn’t outside himself. Or as Thich Naht Hahn said two dozen centuries later, “Peace never depends on the other person.”
Exploration requires us to say, I don’t know or I was wrong. It requires us to hold both that the world isn’t as we see it, nor is it otherwise. It requires us to wear down the barriers that stand between us and kindness.
To renounce is to leave the comforts of our home-mind and go exploring, not just finding, but creating new worlds. How will we know what to do out there? As Zhijian promised his student Rujing:
If you would get out of your old nest, you would find a way.