True renunciation is
to let go of attachment, aversion and delusion;
not anything else.
The Buddha does not demand that everyone leave the household life for the monastery [to further facilitate spiritual cultivation] or ask his followers to discard all sense enjoyments on the spot. The degree to which a person renounces depends on his or her disposition and situation. But what remains as a guiding principle is this: that the attainment of deliverance requires the complete eradication of craving, and progress along the path is accelerated to the extent that one overcomes craving. Breaking free from domination by desire may not be easy, but the difficulty does not abrogate the necessity. Since craving is the origin of dukkha [dissatisfactions], putting an end to dukkha depends on eliminating craving, and that involves directing the mind to renunciation.
But it is just at this point, when one tries to let go of attachment, that one encounters a powerful inner resistance. The mind does not want to relinquish its hold on the objects to which it has become attached. For such a long time it has been accustomed to gaining, grasping, and holding, that it seems impossible to break these habits by an act of will. One might agree to the need for renunciation, might want to leave attachment behind, but when the call is actually sounded the mind recoils and continues to move in the grip of its desires. [Not all desires are harmful, such as the desire to practise the Dharma.]
So the problem arises of how to break the shackles of desire. The Buddha does not offer as a solution the method of repression – the attempt to drive desire away with a mind full of fear and loathing. This approach does not resolve the problem but only pushes it below the surface, where it continues to thrive. The tool the Buddha holds out to free the mind from desire is understanding. Real renunciation is not a matter of compelling ourselves to give up things still inwardly cherished, but of changing our perspective on them [to realise they are impermanent and unsubstantial] so that they no longer bind us. When we understand the nature of desire, when we investigate it closely with keen attention, desire falls away by itself, without need for struggle.
The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way To The End Of Suffering
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