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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Jun 1, 2020

What does it mean to live a holy life in this modern world? The Pali word ‘nekkhamma’ in the Buddhist canon is generally translated as "renunciation". This word also conveys the meaning of giving up the world and leading a holy life. What would our most holy life look like? Do we want to pursue and prioritize a holy life? This episode is dedicated to searching inside ourselves to ask these most meaningful questions. 


“What the development of true renunciation implies is that we no longer rely on sensory pleasures for our ultimate happiness; we see the futility of expecting deep satisfaction from such limited, transitory phenomena. It is important to understand this point clearly. Renunciation is not the same as giving up pleasure or denying ourselves happiness. It means giving up our unreal expectations about ordinary pleasures. These expectations themselves are what turn pleasure into pain. It cannot be said too often that there is nothing wrong with pleasure. It is our grasping, exaggerating, distorting, and polluting attitude toward pleasure that must be abandoned.” —Lama Yeshe


“Although we are social animals, forced to live together, we lack a sense of responsibility toward our fellow humans. Does the fault lie in the basic structures of family and society? In the facilities produced by science and technology? I don’t think so. I think that despite the rapid advances that civilization has made over the past century, the immediate cause of our present situation is exclusively privileging material progress above all else. We have thrown ourselves so frantically into its pursuit that we have neglected to pay attention to the essential human needs of love, kindness, cooperation, and caring. It is clear to me that an authentic sense of responsibility can emerge only if we develop compassion. Only a spontaneous feeling of empathy toward others can motivate us to act on their behalf.” -Dalai Lama 


People hold dear those 

Who have done their own work, 

Complete in virtue and vision, 

Established in the Dhamma, 

And who speak the truth. (217) 


Anyone who aspires to the Indescribable, 

Whose mind is expansive, 

And whose heart is not bound to sensual craving 

Is called “one bound upstream.”

—Buddha, The Dhammapada 


Links and References

Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 43-44.

H.H. Dalai Lama. My Spiritual Journey. Translated by Charlotte Mandell. Harper Collins, pp. 138-139. 

Yeshe, Thupten. Introduction to Tantra. (Audiobook). Wisdom Publications, Somerville, 2014, pp.39-41.