Jakusho Kwong

‘While the Chinese ideogram for shukke [the word used in priest ordination] means “leaving home,” this word also means “renunciation.” It may sound like a heavy word. What does it mean to you? does it mean “I can’t do all the things I wish to do?” Contrary to what we might think, renunciation is not antilife but refers to a way of living that gives life. It’s like this zazen hall, or zendo, which is very austere. Because it’s so empty, you can fill it with anything. Properly understood, renunciation is the same; it is life-giving and life-supporting instead of life-denying. Through renunciation we can appreciate everything from the smallest grain of rice to the largest of dharmas.
Often when people hear this word, they shudder and think, “I could never leave the world behind.” But renunciation does not mean turning our back on the world. It means turning out back on the conditions that cause suffering – greed, anger and ignorance – and rediscovering our natural confidence through seated meditation. When we feel the confidence and love within ourselves and in other people, there’s no need to harm others and no reason to abuse our minds. It’s the gentlest and kindest way to live in this difficult world.’ (No Beginning, No End)

I read this passage right after I had finished reading the New York Times’ long piece about the Murdoch family. Growing up in England, Rupert Murdoch was something of an an anathema to me once I started developing a political conscience, from the union-busting practices (not even mentioned in the article) to the divisive politics. I was wondering how I could frame my opposition to everything his corporations stand for these days, and the three poisons, given above as greed, anger and ignorance, were what I thought of. When I read how many billions each member of the family would get for the Disney deal, I wondered at the greed of that. I constantly despair of the anger and ignorance (let’s just be specific about the ignorance of separation, which allows us to ‘other’ those we don’t feel connected to, which, allied with power dynamics, allows for great harm to be done) demonstrated in the media owned by this family. I try very hard not to give any of my money to any property owned by them, and that is the power of my renunciation, which is all I have.

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