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Buddhadharma : Winter 2007
buddhadharma| 79 |winter 2007 Nekkhamma literally means “freedom from sensual lust,” but it’s more generally translated as “renuncia- tion.” Traditionally, it comes third on the Theravadan list of the ten paramitas, or “forces for transformation,” after gener- osity and moral discipline. it’s hardly a coincidence that it’s positioned so near the beginning, as it forms the foundation for all Buddhist practice. it is sometimes mistakenly thought that gestures of renunciation are only made by those who have “gone forth”—that is, by ordained monks and nuns. it is true that the lifestyle commitment for monks and nuns is a great support for the cultivation of this virtue; however, it’s also important for the lay practitioner. if any of us fail to embrace the spirit of renunciation, the results from our effort in Buddhist prac- tice will largely be limited. Sila (virtue) is supported by nekk- hamma, samadhi is deepened by it, and wisdom is nourished by it. The ultimate goal for all followers of the Buddhist path is the complete eradication of greed, aversion, and delusion. and as we know, greed, aversion, and delusion are expres- sions of our confused belief in self. Let- ting go of this self that we hold so dear is the ultimate renunciation. Cultivation of nekhamma supports this process. The Buddha himself acknowledged in the Tapussa Sutta that initially he did not find the practice of renunciation appeal- ing. however, on reflection, he came to understand that the reason part of him was not drawn to it was because he had not accurately seen the consequences of being lost in sensuality. This is therefore one of the contemplations for wanting to renounce and to let go of compulsive dis- tractions; we look deeply into the conse- quences that arise from the way we relate to our senses. Buddhists do not approach the practice of renunciation as something we should do. Rather, having considered the prin- ciple of cause and effect, we come to see its wisdom. if we cannot release the extra or unnecessary things in our lives, then surely it will be difficult to arrive at the clear seeing, or right view, that is required to follow the other aspects of the Bud- dhist path. another contemplation the Buddha used to inspire nekkhamma came from his inquiry into the demonstrable benefits that arise directly from being able to truly let go. One of ajahn Chah’s maxims in practice was: “if you let go a little, you will have a little peace. if you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. if you let go completely, you will have complete peace.” Renunciation is not about making our lives miserable—quite the opposite! it is about greater and more sustainable happiness. at first, the idea of not gratifying our sense desires appears to be a guarantee DHarMa DIcTIonary ajahn MunindO is the abbOt Of aruna rataniGiri buddhist MOnastery in harnhaM, enGland. he was Ordained by ajahn chah in 1975. nekkHaMMa defined by Ajahn munindo You are not it Michael Newhall