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Renunciation is a little bit heavy for you.

Lama Yeshe, Kopan, 1980From  1981: Public Life and Private Time by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

Lama Yeshe arrived in Adelaide on 28 July, guest of the small Tibetan Buddhist community there, which included Doc Wight, Neil Huston and several others who had attended Kopan courses. They put him up at a cheap, noisy motel which was all they could afford.

Doc was not really interested in Buddhism, but over lunch at the motel Lama asked him if he’d given any thought to becoming a Buddhist. “I can’t,” Doc replied, “I’m Jewish.” “Who cares about that?” said Lama. “Being happy won’t interfere with being Jewish.”

Lama’s teachings on the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment ran from 29 July to 31 July at a local venue called the Box Factory. The royal wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer also took place on 29 July 1981. Wil and Lyndy Abrams turned up at the motel to collect Lama and found him engrossed in the TV coverage. “We were looking at our watches and worrying about the time. Lama said he didn’t think anyone would turn up for the teachings. When we got to the Box Factory everyone there was watching TV. ‘I told you!’ said Lama. But they did go to his teaching.” Wil and Lyndy asked Lama Yeshe if they could start a center in Adelaide. “Yes, dear, but it’s up to the students,” Lama told them.

From Lama Yeshe’s teachings on the three principal aspects of the path, Adelaide, 1981:

Now, we are going to talk about the renunciation of samsara. Renunciation is the mind that leads to liberation. That particular renunciation, that specific kind of renounced mind is not easy to achieve. Normally we do have a renounced mind. For example, we try to renounce situations where there is disease, such as tuberculosis or cancer, don’t we? We try to avoid unpleasant situations as much as we can. This is not a specifically human sort of ability. Even insects, dogs, chickens and pigs can do this, can’t they? But if we consider the meaning of renunciation in our human life, it means to renounce the causes of confusion and dissatisfaction—that is, grasping at temporal pleasure and expecting that it will last, permanently, even if you don’t put it into words. Even if you don’t say, philosophically, “My pleasure is going to last a lifetime.” Intellectually you may say, “Of course it won’t last a lifetime, yah yah yah,” but, inside, psychologically, you’re expecting that your pleasure will last as long as possible.

But those thoughts are unrealistic. As long you have such an unrealistic grasping attitude, holding such a concept that regards pleasure as permanent and lasting, there is no space to liberate yourself, to achieve eternal peace or whatever you would like to call it. This is why renunciation is a little bit heavy for you. But that’s the way it is. What do I mean by heavy? Heavy means quite difficult to understand, because the ego doesn’t want to understand this. Because normally we see pleasure only in that unrealistic way. That is what is real for us. We don’t see anything else, any other alternative.

However from the Buddhist point of view, to eliminate the desire that craves temporal pleasure is essential in order to discover eternal peace or liberation. Otherwise, our situation is endless. Remember we’ve talked about the cycle of existence; that is what samsara means. We repeat our situation again and again, which gets us nowhere. The only result is dissatisfaction. Now, according to Buddhism, we need to use our intelligence. In a way Western society means well, using the intellect to develop whatever is best to give you the most pleasure, isn’t it? This is what we are chasing, aren’t we? We try. Similarly, Buddhism says that human beings can achieve indestructible peace and pleasure. We are capable. The problem is that we are always grasping for small pleasure. And this interferes with our being able to discover everlasting pleasure and peace.

(15514_ng.psd) Lama Yeshe teaching in the gompa (shrineroom) at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1974. Photo by Ursula Bernis.This is why you should use your wisdom to check up what is the best way to produce happiness in your life, in your mind. That’s the main point. We waste our life by focusing on such temporary business that results in such little pleasure, so little pleasure. We spend so much energy and effort but the result is almost all confusion. This is what we do, you know. I do this too, even though I am monk. Check up. You check up.

So, now, those who understand, those who have realized renunciation of samsara, no longer have any ambition for something missing. Do you understand what I mean? Normally, it doesn’t matter how much pleasure we experience, we still always feel like something is missing. But those who have really gained a deep realization of samsara, they no longer have this kind of ambition. They don’t wish for New York pleasure, they don’t wish for California pleasure, they don’t wish for Australia pleasure. Once you have reached that understanding, then you can rest. You rest because there is less contradiction in your mind. That’s the way to be liberated.



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