introducing the three renunciations

Tales from the past … the three renunciations. [while distinctions are made, the reality of the reader will be more chaotic. The three renunciations are a secondary level of life’s teachings … the latter being the Seven Stages of the Passion of Christ, discussed in glorious detail in: “Cowboy Bebop and the physics of thought as Moral Art”. http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/CowboyBebop.html ]

Again … everyone is the right person in the right place at the right time. One way to describe our biography is via those Stages as metaphors … Washing the Feet, the Scourging; the Crowning with Thorns; the Carrying of the Cross; the Crucifixion; the Entombment; and the Resurrection. The trials do not occur in that order. There isn’t some other place where we are supposed to be … a hint: when our thoughts are rejected harshly, by family or friends, this is the Crowning with Thorns.

Some years ago I wrote a long article called: In Joyous Celebration of the Soul  Art and Music of Discipleship.

Near the beginning I write: “The Alchemical stream is a stream of studied spiritual knowledge and of initiation. It is more of the Kings and of Gnosis than of the Shepherds and of Faith. The Discipleship stream is more related to that moral work in life that comes from following the Teachings of Christ, and thus is more of the Shepherds than of the Kings. The disciples, who were meant to be fishers and shepherds of human beings, were not (in general) of the old mystery streams as were the Kings. The Shepherds belong to what was being newly created – to the future Mysteries that are to arise from the social commons. These future Mysteries are not to flow out of the old, now impotent and dysfunctional hierarchically organized Mystery Centers, but from finely and homeopathically distributed Branches and Discussion Groups – that is the New Mysteries are to be born out of and in ordinary social life where groups of individuals draw together (wherever two or more are gathered…).”

The essay is long, and contains an examination of a life of moral action, that takes place within the own soul. I was inspired to write it by reading an article by Dennis Klocek on soul alchemy, where he writes of four trials, an earth (freedom) trial, a water trial (phenomenology), an air trial (silent practice), and a fire trial (dialog). He drew this gesture in the form of a mandala, and it occurred to me to wonder where we go after the fire trial – do we go on to new level of freedom?

To my thinking, in response to his work, appeared the idea of the four intervals that appear between the five states. These thoughts were rooted in my own practice for decades, wherein I discovered several modes of thinking, to go with several moods of feeling.

From: the Rising of the Sun in the Mind http://ipwebdev.com/hemit/risingsunapp.html

We are capable of various “modes” of thinking, once we start to
seriously explore our minds. Some names for such modes: comparative thinking,
associative thinking, warm thinking, cold thinking, heart thinking, imaginative
picture thinking, thinking-about, thinking-with, thinking-within and thinking-as.

All such thinking modes are influenced by moods, or feelings. Such as anger, sadness, joy, fear, antipathy, sympathy, pain, pleasure, and such cultivated (intentional) moods as wonder and awe.

Modes and moods combine in the mind in a great variety of Ways. Notice your own “habits” of mind. Consider changing some of them. In this sense the mind is an “instrument” we instinctively know how to play. Learn to go beyond instinct and play the instrument of your mind consciously.

In our minds there are capacities of the own will: the attention and the intention. The attention is where we direct the mind – what are the “objects” of thought to which we “attend”. The intention is the reason, moral or otherwise, that we form thoughts. Play with these capacities. Experiment with them. Learn from their existence.

While all minds can potentially do all things, your individual mind will have habits from a lifetime of dealing with “life”. Trust your habits, but at the same time, consider whether or not you need/want to continue doing them.


Thinking about, thinking with, thinking within, and thinking as, are the four intervals, from the point of view of the Shepherd’s Stream. In between the four intervals are three renunciations. Thinking about is our normal / fallback state.

So we have thinking about (related to freedom); … followed by thinking-with (related to phenomenology; … followed by thinking-within (related to silent practice); followed by thinking as (related to dialog).

Because of our human nature, thinking about is accompanied by instinctive feelings of antipathy and sympathy. These are not useless feeling-senses, yet they are also a beam in our own eye. To learn – in freedom – to Judge Not is the work, … inner labors of a quite intimate nature. Learning to ride / master the mind of these fallback activities – antipathy and sympathy … we strive to renounce them when they appear.

This inner act lays the foundation for thinking with (phenomenology). We call it learning to walk in another’s shoes. This first renunciation enables us to draw closer to this “other”, which formerly we thought about, and now practice thinking with. It is an act of love.

The next of the three renunciations is to give up the habitual thought content of the mind. We seek an “empty” consciousness (silent practice), which enables participation and inspiration on another level. We practice becoming poor in spirit, which opens the soul to a fresh thought content. We develop the capacity to think within – to see clearly their point of view. This is a deeper act of love.

The third renunciation is of the importance of the own self. This leads to the experience of thinking as. Again, the two basic tools of the will in thinking, are the attention and the intention. We choose to attend to a specific experience, and with a specific self-chosen intention. We are awake here. Yet, the selfless gesture is hard as an ideal, yet easy in practice. Mothers and fathers and teachers have little trouble here, if they are awake enough to choose and invent the good and the true

The three renunciations collapse the distance between our “self” and another. Our ability to identify is complete, yet to be sustained has to be constantly renewed. We do it in each now, where we need to understand, and to be understood.

This is not an abstract love of folks I never will meet. It is instead the bread and the wine of the daily Eucharist of true friendship. We fail more than we succeed. In fact, the very idea of success has no meaning. To survive in spite of our trials, … mistakes … confusion … all the glory of being human on the Cusp of the Third Millennium and the dying and becoming of “Western” civilization.

The actual essay is thirty-three pages long, and can be found on my blog here:

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