The Three Principles of the Path – Definition of Having Genuine Renunciation – W5

Week 5: The Definition of having Genuine Renunciation

  1When, by having trained in that way
          2There is no arising, even for a second,
          3Of attraction to the perfections of cyclic existence,
          4And all day and night the intention seeking liberation arises
– Then the thought of renunciation has been generated.


Before that, let start by adopting a correct motivation.

This is one of the very important teachings composed by Great Lama Tsongkhapa –its content is “the three principles aspects” or “the three main, important points” to practice to achieve enlightenment. This teaching is Mahayana teaching and one of the common teachings of Mahayana and Vajrayana, so it’s very profound. Along with “Eight verves on mind training”, this text is also very important to reflect in day-to-day life, so that you cannot only understand it better, but you can apply in day-to-day life, in your thoughts and in your practices.

In Mahayana teachings, it’s very important to adopt a correct motivation. Nowadays is Saga Dawa- the special month, when Buddha not only entered the worm of Mayadevi- Buddha’s mother, Buddha also destroyed the hoards of enemies, also Buddha achieved enlightenment in this month, Buddha went to Parinirvana also in this month. Besides, Buddha also became a monk in this month.

This month is considered very special, so, whatever merits which we engage (as I told in the last class) will be multiplied really into million of time. So, being able to go through such Mahayana teaching – essence of all teachings, essence of all the sutras is very fortunate.

The 5th stanza is what we supposed to talk today.

The 4th stanza we have been through last time. Its content is that you should not attached to the belongings, it can be clothes, family, fame and all the things that is towards of this life. We should not attach to those things, then should try to think of the next life, also think and try to achieve the higher rebirth into the next lives.

So, the way we should think that all the thing of this life, it should not reliable and at the same time, the precious human rebirth that we achieved is extremely rare. Although we achieved such precious human rebirth with eight leisures and ten freedoms, but the life that we have now is very short, delicate and the death can come anytime, at the same time the death is certain. The time of death can come anytime; and when the death comes, it is only the practice is our help. Even your family, friends, parent, kids are of no use at the time of death. The same family which you spend the whole life will be no help when we come to go in death or when we come to get another rebirth of next life.

Not only that, but the wealth that you might have accumulated in your whole life, since you left the colleagues, all the wealth that you or your parents, grand parents had accumulated will be of no use, and these all will be totally useless at the time of death, this is also no help. Even the body that we have been cherished the most, the body have been feeding or being a sort of slave for the whole life also will be of no use at the time of death.

The only thing that will be a help at the time of death is the practice of Dharma. If you have practice, then it is the only thing that will help you at the time of death, and to take a better rebirth into the very next life. The wealth, family members, even your own body is totally useless at the time of death. So, spending this precious human life for those things is not really logical. So that’s why we should stop worrying about this life and the things that is just limited into this life. Because of that, we should think and try for the next life.

Even when come to next life, if you born again in Samsara, in cyclic existences, even if you born again as a human or as a God, the suffering is still there, you will continue the suffering. Look at the things in this world, specially during this Covid, you can see that it is the human who is suffering, not just animals and hungry ghost. And many of these people who are suffering, engage into more negative actions because their sufferings. So, when people don’t have the correct attitude, and people don’t know the practice of Dharma and all the possibilities, when they are in hard time, many people get angry easily, because they’re having difficult time; very impatient with the situation because they’re having the hard time. So, even if we reborn as a human, there is nothing to be excited, unless we practice Dharma. So if we’re born again in Samsara, the nature of Samsara is suffering and the suffering is never end.

That’s why we should try to achieve the “Genuine Renunciation”, or in other word, the genuine definite emergence, the renunciation here is a desire to achieve Nirvana. We should try our best to cultivate the strong desire, the genuine desire to achieve liberation – free from Samsara. So, we just not think about next life, not just think about being born as a human or a God, but we should try our best to practice, so that we can achieve the liberation, that is the freedom from Samsara, that is only time when you will be free from all the sufferings. This kind of thought is very important to generate by seeing the negative, by seeing the cause, the nature of suffering, as long as you’re born in Samsara.

That is what we are talking today. Now here is the 5th stanza for today:

The Definition of having Genuine Renunciation

          1When, by having trained in that way
          2There is no arising, even for a second,
          3Of attraction to the perfections of cyclic existence,
          4And all day and night the intention seeking liberation arises
– Then the thought of renunciation has been generated.

1When,by having trained in that way. Now, here “that way” means by seeing the certainty of the death, and by seeing that, this precious human rebirth that we have right now – with eight leisures and ten freedoms extremely difficult to achieve. And, at the same time, the time of death is uncertain and only the Dharma just helps at the time of death. So, we should reduce the desire to things and the belongings (wealth and the body) of this life. Not only that, by thinking the causes and effects, and also the sufferings of Samsara. We should train by that thought again and again, by training ourselves in these two manners: by seeing the uncertainty of this life, and also the cause and effect and the suffering of Samsara.

2There is no arising, even for a second.
3Of attraction to the perfections of cyclic existence,

It means that if the attachment or the attraction towards the perfection of cyclic existence. In the cyclic existence, of course, there are many many nice things; but even there are many good and nice things in this Samsara, for example, flowers and the things your eyes can experience, nice smell for your nose, nice food that you can taste through you tongue, there are nice music that you can hear, many nice clothes that you can fit… also, there are many wonderful, nice perfections of cyclic existence in this Samsara, if you don’t have that attraction toward those nice things of Samsara even for a second. At the same time, if you have this intention, if you have that desire to seek liberation to free from Samsara, not just during the day, not just when you having a hard time, but if you have this sort of desire to achieve liberation not only daytime but even the nighttime, if you have the desire all the time. Even when you see the good things of Samsara, but you still want to get rid of the Samsara, very strong desire for the whole day and whole night without even a break, then you can say, this is the time that you have achieved that thought of “genuine renunciation”. So only then you can say “I have achieved the genuine renunciation”.

Now, let me make it quite simple. The genuine renunciation is when you don’t see Samsara as a nice thing, when you see that even the pleasure of the Samsara is something to be get rid of. Even the happiness in Samsara, it’s also a nature of suffering. Nature of suffering is more like when you are very thirsty, you go and you drink a sea water. Let’s say you are very thirsty, but what you get is a ‘sea water’. So, our happiness is exactly like that. Sea water is something the more you drink, the more you will be thirsty, because it is salty, you will never quench the thirst with the sea water. So, nice things in Samsara (nice things to eat, to see, to hear, to taste…), all these things are exactly like that – the sea water.

So, our desire increase, increase, increase and be reached to such a level that we exaggerate the situation and then the desire is so strong that nothing can quench that thirst or that desire. You might feel comfortable for very little bit of time, it’s more like when the kid needs something bigger and then you lure the kid with something nice, it’s more like you will have an exam tomorrow and then if you don’t pass, you can have suffering for the whole year.

One of the Great Nalanda Masters said that: “Happiness of Samsara is like to enjoy an extra candy when it was a time to study for tomorrow exam”. Yes, there is no long in enjoying a candy, no long in going to find a restaurant and have a nice dinner. But when you have exam tomorrow and when you are in situation that you can lose anytime, then even have a nice dinner at restaurant becomes an obstacle which avoids you to achieve what you supposed to achieve.

Happiness in Samsara is exactly like that. When you’re having a very nice time, you literally waste this precious human rebirth in which you could practice and achieve not only liberation for yourself, but it is such an opportunity when you can try and practice and you can achieve and bring happiness for yourself and also for the sake of all sentient beings. So, it’s such wonderful opportunity! It’s more like those Gods of Desire realm, they are so happy, they enjoy, everything is quite nice, so they never think of practicing Dharma. Many of them spend their whole life to enjoy, enjoy and then after a while, they finish all their merits; so when they die, often they’re born in a hell.

Some teenagers, or adults as well, when they have some money, they go and spend and don’t know tomorrow, exactly like those of Gods – they spend all their merits. So, when those kids finished what they have, tomorrow they become like a beggar, they have to eat a very cheap food, while yesterday they having luxury food in the five stars. That was a point. What’s the point of having a luxury food in five stars while you have to eat a very unclean food tomorrow? So, what’s the point of dissolving into enjoyment of this life, when it might lead you to something very much worse in next life? We really don’t know.

So, to enjoy too much is also an obstacle, because if you are not being careful, it can delude you, it can become a sort of illusion in you that this is permanent. So, when you start to see a sense that this is permanent, because in our deep mind, when we enjoy, it’s more like we see it as a permanence. That’s why when the party ends you are not happy, because in your deep mind you expect this lasts long quite a bit of time. When the picnic is over, it’s difficult! Usually, you have a very normal life, you are pretty much satisfied with your life, then sudden you have a party for one hour. Yes, you may enjoy during the party. Now, happiness through the party for one hour, if it leads to uncomfortable, if it leads to unpleasant for the rest of 24 hours, so, the party for one hour does not make sense, for me it’s not really something that is desirable.

We deserve to be happy. But that happiness should be something which is long lasting. If that happiness is not something that is long lasting, then you got a measure, if you can happy for ten minutes, but these ten minutes make you unhappy for two hours, then I think it is not worth.

So, it’s very important, even when you are in a relation of friendship with a person, you need to check carefully, whether being friend with that person increases or pushes you to a negativity or increases those negative emotions or increases feeling in you that make you unhappy? Then that is not a friend you should be together or you should be around. That kind of friend you should not consider as a best friend, because by being with that friend, it helps you to activate anger, jealousy, envy, ego, greedy… So, you should try to surround youself with such a friend which helps you enhance your inner quality like love, compassion, understanding, rejoicing other’s good quality, contentment in life, practicing and meditation towards these things. This kind of friend or friend that you should look forward, that kind of friend help you to be a better person, help you to be a kind and compassionate person. That is something that you can see as a longtime happiness.

But, nowadays, in this materialistic world, people expect the happiness from outer phenomena, like, if I have a Mercedes car or Lamborghini, may I will have happiness; this and that car, or a nice building, or nice place, nice partner, nice career, I would be wealthy… People expect the happiness from those things and which is the reason why many many of the rich people, even if they are very wealthy but they are not happy in their life. The reason why they are not happy is because they don’t search happiness where the happiness really comes from. They try to find happiness in outer materialistic things, while the happiness is not outer materialistic things. Happiness is something that you can generate from your mind. So, instead of trying to find happiness from their mind, they try to find happiness from outer phenomena, where the happiness does not exist, which is not the real cause of happiness. If you are content with Mercedes or Lamborghini, then yes, you can achieve happiness in there, but Lamborghini is not the main cause; it is just a condition, and the condition doesn’t need to be Lamborghini. If you are content which is the real cause, you can even find the same happiness with a bicycle.

There are people who are happier with bicycle, then some people who are happier with Lamborghini, which shows that it is not the materialistic things out there. It is the way you think, whether you are content, whether you are satisfied or not. If you are satisfied with Lamborghini, that’s it. If you are satisfied with just your two legs, that’s it. A person who just has artificial legs is much happier or content, satisfied than many people with Lamborghini. Now look at us, we have better legs than those have artificial legs, then we should be much happier than people who are with artificial legs. But the situation is that we are not content, we are not satisfied with what we have – a nice fine legs, on which we can stand and go wherever we want.

That satisfaction needed to come through intent practice, because we are so much used to or trained in dissatisfaction, we never get content with things. So, to achieve that contentment, we need to train our mind through meditation. We need to train our mind with love, compassion, patience; then the teachings of Buddha. That is only when you can achieve a full content with anything that you have.

By seeing that the worldly things or the things in Samsara is not reliable, the only way to achieve happiness is when you are free from all the negative emotions. Because as long as you have the greedy, doesn’t matter whatever you do, the dissatisfaction is always be there. You never ever be satisfied, then never ever be happy if you have the greedy or have anger in you, jealousy and envy in you.

4And all day and night the intention seeking liberation arises
– Then the thought of renunciation has been generated.

So, liberation or Nirvana is the absence of all the negative emotions. You should try your best, you should have a strong desire, day and night, to achieve that state of mind that you are free from all negative emotions – which is called Nirvana or freedom from sufferings. If you have that thought day and night continually, at the same time you see that all the things out there including these negative emotions are something to be given up. That is the time when you truly achieve the genuine renunciation or a desire to achieve liberation. It’s very important because through that, if we don’t have that, then it’s very difficult to have Bodhicitta. If you don’t have Bodhicitta, then there if no way you can become Buddha.

So, again, wisdom itself is not enough. You should have the wisdom along with the Bodhicitta, along with the renunciation. As I said last time, wisdom without Bodhicitta, without compassion, without renunciation, is a bird with one wing. It can reach nowhere, or sometimes, it can be harm, it can avoid us from achieve enlightenment.

Nowadays, it is the Saga Dawa, there are many people who are practicing life offering. They buy fish and birds then release them. I truly appreciate their compassion, truly admire their work. But, if they don’t use wisdom, it can be a difficulty. Maybe in this month, those birds are having terrible time, because people get them – release them, get them – release them, get them – release them. What would you feel if a group of people come and take you, throw you to the prison for a while, and then somebody come and release you; and then somebody come and put you in the prison then somebody come to release you? If it happens ten times, twenty times a month, what would you feel? People come to catch you because there are people who want to release!

In Tibet, there are very very less people who eat fish, especially in some parts of Tibet, I heard that they don’t eat fish generally. But now, the idea of ‘life offering’ comes in their mind. Before, nobody eats fish, or rarely people eat fish, so there is not pretty much or no one who catch the fish. But nowadays, different wind comes from somewhere, I don’t know, as a sort of idea of releasing a life, there are many people who catch fish. They export or import fish from China, so that they can release them in some water, and there are people who are living by catching fish in Tibet. It should be sad, because, before the fish were really free, nobody could not do any problem. Now because there are some people who wish to release, some people who catch them, so instead of helping them, we harming them! And the consequence, many of fishes which come from China, when they are released in the rivers and the lakes in Tibet, the place, the water and the atmosphere are totally different (It’s more like you catch a Panda, then you release it in Africa). Because of different atmosphere, different water, many of them die right there, many of them become a food for other fishes living over there. This is exactly what is happening! Sometimes it more like that you are being generous then you are giving a knife to those people who kill animal. What you call this? You may think that you are very very kind, you are offering things to practice generosity… but then what you are doing is giving a knife for those people killing animals!

So, what’s the point? Why it’s very important, and even when you have a wonderful wisdom, intelligence and everything; but when you don’t have compassion, as I said in last classes that when a person starts to create, maybe, some viruses. Marvelous human brain, wonderful wisdom, capability to see what is right and what is wrong, how it can affect, how it can harm, how it can benefit. But when they don’t have compassion, they misuse that brain, then they start to create nuclear bomb, or such a virus. There are some people who believe that Covid-19 has been created in laboratory. If it is true, then it’s simply because the lack of compassion. Thousands and thousands of people died because of this marvelous brain who created. So, what’s the point of having a luxury human body? Wonderful human brain, what’s the point? It’s more like you have a diamond stone, but you are using it to hit on somebody’s head. It is more like you have a wonderful skill to create a medicine but you use the same skill to create a house burned. That exactly thing can happen when a person lack of compassion.

So, along with the wisdom, it’s very important to have a perfect of target. Now here the target is, if you have wisdom, you should also have a desire, the target part, it can be compassion, it can be desire to be free from sufferings, desire to remove all the negative emotions and achieve liberation. Liberation is nothing, but absence of negative emotions, that state when you eliminate all the negative emotions, it is called liberation. And the desire of that liberation is called ‘renunciation’. And it is genuine when you have it very strong day and night. When you have that, then you enter into the path to enlightenment and then you never come back, you never get worse and you become better and become nearer and nearer to enlightenment or liberation./.

Question and Answer:

  • There is this mindset: There is nothing to renounce because Samsara and Nirvana are the same. Sometimes, when we (student practitioners) in the state of pure joy, like being in the nature, we seem to feel that too (no separation between Samsara/ Nirvana). How do we know if what we think is not another trick of the ego?

Yes, there are some levels of happiness that you can achieve in this life. As I said, if you satisfy, this is like a distraction to achieve something bigger. Some parents, when they don’t want to give a kid something bigger, the parents try to give a kid some more candies to distract the kid’s attention, and also the Samsara and Nirvana. But Nirvana is not a place, it is a state of mind when the mind is free from all the negative emotions, completely free, that state is called Nirvana. Samsara is our all five aggregates, our body, our mind… these are Samsara. As long as we have this, there is no peace. We have such a body that gives problem all the time. We take care of it, at the end, what it does? It gives pain. We do our best for ourselves then it does what? It is our all mind: anger, jealousy, envy, ego, pride, greed. There is nothing out there which give us pain, if these things are not there.

 Many people tried to hurt Buddha, but Buddha didn’t get hurt. Because if you don’t have those emotions, if you don’t have ego, if you have love toward others, then it doesn’t matter whatever others say. If you don’t have such an expectation, for example, if you know that someone is crazy, and that person says a bad word to you that you are crazy, you will not get hurt. But if your friend says that you are crazy, it may hurt a lot. So, it is not what people said to you. It is you! You don’t expect that from your friend, so it hurts you. With the person who is crazy, you don’t expect anything good from him, so whatever he says doesn’t matter to you. Exactly the same for Buddha, doesn’t matter how bad they tried to come out with, doesn’t matter how bad people said to Buddha, they tried to kill Buddha… but Buddha always had the love and compassion towards them. And Buddha didn’t get hurt from those things.

As long as you have that sort of mind, as long as you have this impure body, you cannot avoid sufferings. Like the difficult time or the pain, sickness and the death, something that one has to go through as long as you have that body and mind, unless you achieve enlightenment, unless you achieve Nirvana.

So, Samsara and Nirvana is totally two different sides. Nice feeling or pleased feeling is not Nirvana at all. When you have a nice time, it’s more like a clear water on the top; when nothing happens, when there is not much of movement, the dust goes below the glass, so the dusts on the ground, and you can see clear water on the top; that doesn’t mean you don’t have those dusts inside, the dusts is there. So, Nirvana means that water completely absent, completely separated from the dust. Now, you may see very clean on the top – you are not angry, you have a nice time, you feel nice or a sort of Nirvana – a pleased state, but remember, at that time, if somebody comes throwing a stone on you. It’s exactly like you throw a stone on that water, the dust at the below rise on the whole water, it is exact the same when somebody throw a stone on you, then you get angry. No more peace. No more happiness. That’s why Samsara and Nirvana is absolutely different, just both of side, the one with suffering, the one without suffering; the one with negative emotions, the one without negative emotions.

  • Lama, likely there is no many people going to the path of Buddhahood, while there are many crowds in the path to the pleasure of this life or next life. What we could do? We can see their ambition is increasing and causing the troubles in the world nowadays.

Yes, it’s very true. This is a reason why everyone is still in Samsara. Because they have been doing wrong things, wrong conception, misconception; so, they come to the Samsara again and again, otherwise, they could become Buddha long ago. But we should think that we are very lucky to be able to have these teachings of Buddha, to have the fate towards these teachings, and to have ability to check if the teachings is valuable, really nice.

So, by understanding those things, we should try our best to practice, it’s not like we will be able to force others, even think about such things. We practice and then try to express as much as we can, so that others also can be happy. If you don’t practice, there is no way you can share to others. To practice, you need to know first, so that you know what is the thing you suppose to practise.

When Buddha became Buddha, he waited for 49 days. After 49 days Buddha saw that now there are 5 students ready. He gave teachings to the five students, so these five students share to another, then another, then another. Now the teachings reach to 500 millions, more people know the teachings.

So now, I am one person. I received those teachings from my teacher. So, from one person, it goes to five, ten people; then from ten people it can go to many more in future. Then one day we can reach to the whole world. Because every tree contributes to avoid the global warming, every tree contributes to avoid the disasters caused by global warming. Every tree that we cut as a condition, as a cause of global warming. So every single thing is matter. For example, if I died, the human beings in this world become lesser, always there is the births of human, but I died, one less, infinite minus one is also infinite, but it is lesser, a million minus one it is not million at all.  So, if one person changes, the world becoming better; if two persons become better tomorrow, the world becoming better. If one person becomes terrorist tomorrow, the world becomes worse than yesterday. So, each and everyone you met, you know Dharma, if you know what we have gone through today, I’m extremely happy./.

Noted down from the Dharma Talk of The Three Principles of the Path on 18 May 2021 by Lama Nawang Kunphel