Aging & Dying, Bicycles, Culture and Art, Upaya Zen Center, Zen & Dharma

New Year’s Renunciations

Renunciation! Now there is one scary word. Joyless ascetics giving up all worldly pleasures. Shaven-headed cave-dwellers. Celibacy. Ugh.

Well I am thinking, never mind the resolutions that stem from feelings of failure and inadequacy. New Years is a great time for renunciation, and so I renounce all the hindrances that hold me back from shining fearless as the sun: greed, anger, pride, envy, and the mother of them all—delusion.

I renounce my own bullshit. I renounce “not good enough”, “too old”, “what would people think?” and “can’t afford it.” I will go to New York. I will get my teeth fixed. I will get a new bike.

I renounce all the things that no longer serve me. The old projects, old identities, old relationships long outgrown. I renounce my resumé; I am not that.

Lama Marut says, those who cling to the past are doomed to repeat it. I renounce toxic nostalgia, and vow to replace clinging with fond gratitude.

I renounce playing small and denying my power. I will share what I have learned. I will let my my art provide my living and let my life be my art.

I renounce my addictive behaviors that stem from avoidance and insecurity. I renounce pointless online noodling and using medicines mindlessly. I vow to celebrate Offline Wednesdays and eventually, Unwired Sundays too.

Life and death, so they tell me, are of supreme importance. Time passes quickly and opportunity is lost. Let us awaken, awaken! Take heed!

I renounce procrastination. Now is all the time there is. I will not squander my life.

A note about this illustration: the print is by artist Mayumi Oda, who lives in Japan and is a frequent visitor to Upaya. This is what she writes of this image:

Manjusri (On a Bicycle) [1980]
Manjusri is the perfect wisdom Bodhisattva. He is usually depicted with a sword while the feminine Manjusri carries a sutra—a symbol of clarity. In Japanese Buddhist tradition, Manjusri is always depicted as a clever, young boy. This portrait answers the question, What would Manjusri be like if he were a she? Borrowing from the flamboyant style of the turn-of-the-century bicycle poster, the bicycle symbolizes the wheel of liberation.


4 Comments on “New Year’s Renunciations

  1. I’m going to lose weight, exercise daily, spend more time with friends and family and quit smoking. Just kidding around Carmen!

  2. Carm, I’m inspired, as usual from your journey. Thank you again for sharing it – I really gain a lot from it. I read this one aloud to my mom and she asked if I would send your blog about going offline to my Pa. I’m out here thinking of you ever so fondly, and cheering you on!

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