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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
62 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY WINTER 2 0 1 3 who have not embraced a practice of renunciation but are inspired by this conversation to explore it? Where can they begin? GEOFFREY SHUGEN ARNOLD: I’d say simply start a meditation practice, because that brings you right to renunciation. You could also look at any aspect of your life in which you feel there is indulgence or harmful excess—or deprivation, for that matter. Renunciation sometimes means renouncing our notions of spirituality or asceticism or deprivation, too. We can have false ideas that we’re somehow more spiritual if we are creating material suffering for ourselves, so it’s very important to look at the mind of grasping and start there. AJAHN AMARO: The phrase that springs to mind is “Switch off your cell phone.” Just park the phone and switch off the com- puter for one day a week and have what they call a “data sabbath.” Leave yourself unconnected for a day, once a week or once a month—grant yourself some sanctuary and silence, which is so hard to find nowadays. Solitude is almost a dirty stuck and discover the things that you like, the things you dis- like, and the things that you believe you have to have in order to feel good and happy. Renunciation practice provides a lens that can be held up to those areas where we find limitations and attachments, and by being able to see them, we can let go. The most dangerous attachments are the ones we haven’t got a clue are there. Along with the standard monastic rules, there are addi- tional ascetic practices that the Buddha offered as a sort of raising the stakes to make things even simpler or more demanding. We can take those on as well. Those are practices that really challenge things such as sleep, food, shelter, cloth- ing, and radically simplify these basic elements of living. The purpose is not to torture yourself or prove to other people how tough you are but to help meet your areas of deep cling- ing and thereby let go of them, liberating your heart in a more complete and comprehensive way. BUDDHADHARMA: What advice do you have for practitioners PHOTO | LAURIE PEARCE BAUER