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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
60 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY WINTER 2 0 1 3 from the outside. Then as we practice and see how they begin to have a positive effect, those parameters become more inter- nalized. The process of giving up becomes more natural; it comes from our own sense that we are on a good and fruitful path. We also begin to recognize the mechanism of subject and object—of the one who desires and the objects of desire—that ultimately needs to be transcended. We discover that objects are not the problem; our thoughts are not the problem; there isn’t a problem. That process of renunciation, which began on the outside and moved inside, is now seen as expansive, as the natural order of things. BUDDHADHARMA: Is there sometimes a danger in perceiving renunciation as a state of mind rather than as a commitment to giving something up or making some kind of sacrifice? You know, the idea that it’s okay to have a Cadillac so long as you’re not attached to it? Can it be a slippery slope? AJAHN AMARO: When there’s wisdom, it’s certainly the case that there really is nothing to be renounced. But too often people take hold of that principle and use it as a kind of passkey. So we have to be careful. We can tell ourselves that we’re not really attached when in fact there is an undercurrent of preference driving us; we’re following our fears, aversions, and desires but giving them a kind of transcendent pass. I remember a story that Tsoknyi Rinpoche told me once. He was staying at the house of some wealthy students of his in California, and the host was making a point of saying, “I enjoy having beautiful things around, I like having a house in this beautiful valley” and so on, “but I’m really not attached to any of it. I enjoy it, but if it weren’t here, I wouldn’t mind.” At that point Rinpoche picked up a coffeepot and started to tilt it over a $35,000 Persian carpet, and with the coffee get- ting dangerously close to the spout he asked, “So, you’re not PHOTO | A. JESSE JIRYU DAVIS