Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medical technique, is an effective remedy for many diseases. Although no Western medical scientists have proven the principle of acupuncture from their perspective, but it has already been widely accepted by the world because it extraordinary effects. In the same way, many Buddhist theories and stages haven't been witnessed by ordinary people, due to the limitation of modern scientific measurement methods, but histories of science in the past several centuries has shown even when the science was not able to prove something's existence, that doesn't mean it is wrong. It is reasonable to have doubts against certain matters, but we should not easily deny a principle without first trying it. As it says in "400 Verses of the Middle Way":" Raising doubts against emptiness would still become the origination for one's liberation, for those with lesser merits to practice Dharma. " It says, any reasonable questions about the theory of emptiness and Dharma can still become the starting point of our liberation. Fortunately, nowadays there are many Buddhist masters who have attained the stage of emptiness, they are good spiritual teachers we should learn Dharma from.
In "Diamond Sutra" Buddha Shakyamuni said:" For practitioners who attained the state of emptiness, I certify them as real Bodhisattvas." It is every Mahayana practitioner's goal to realize the nature of emptiness. The foundation towards realization for most people, other than gaining expertise on emptiness theoretically, is to practice renunciation. Renunciation is the foundation for all vehicles of Dharma, your self-attachments can only be dissolved when you arise a conviction to let it go. No others could help you on this, as Buddha Shakyamuni said:" Although I have given you the teachings, it depends on yourself to reach liberation." Therefore, there is no one else to ask for help on this matter. If you have been living as a Mahayana practitioner for many years and still make every decision around "me", "my merits", "my attainments", then you should examine your renunciation through reflecting the teachings in "Diamond Sutra". Renunciation doesn't come from nowhere; the four outer Preliminary Practices is the best method to arise renunciation. This is very important as many people consider renunciation isn't included in the Inner Preliminaries, which requires a foundation on the outer preliminaries - renunciation. As Master Tsongkapa said in "Three Principle Paths": "Without pure renunciation, Sentient beings will pursuit worldly happiness tirelessly. In order to unbound this never-ending attachment, you must first arise renunciation." Therefore, renunciation is the first essential step in our practice.
Renunciation practice comprises many stages. First, arise renunciation for the fears of karmic fruits in the miserable realms, with this in mind we continue to contemplate the meaningless nature of Samsara, and abandon desires towards worldly happiness not only for this life, but also for all endless future cycles in Samsara. The second stage is to generate great compassion to benefit others and remove our selfish motivation about gaining liberation for oneself. Thirdly, we thoroughly realize the true nature of all matters is neither existence nor non-existence, it is an ultimate, spontaneous equity. Abide in this unattached path of Mahayana and free ourselves from all grasping, so we are clear from all incorrect views caused by dualistic thoughts. These are the Three Principle Paths' main and branch practices, they all require renunciation accordingly. Therefore, renunciation isn't just a simple practice, instead we should respect and practice it with diligent.
What is the importance of renunciation? Without renunciation, it is impossible for us to generate the wisdom of emptiness. Without renunciation and the wisdom, we will commit evil deeds due to self-attachments, and take rebirths in Samsara because of our karma. Every time we reborn, we make new relationships with sentient beings around us, some relationships are benevolent, some are bad, and some are neutral, we are attached to those we like with greed, and we treat those we hate with anger. Driven by these uncountable thoughts of ignorance, we've committed countless actions with body, speech and mind that create karmic consequences.
An ancient masters said: One's karmic dept can be eradicated through realization, otherwise he still has to repay them. If we have attained the realization of emptiness, then our karmic obscuration will as well become emptied; If we haven't reach this stage, our mind is still an ordinary mind, then we must repay all karmic dept following the rule of cause and effect. Knowing this fact, all ancient masters choose their conducts very carefully, although they have thoroughly attained the non-duality stage of "mind is Buddha". They tried to tell us the true meaning of Dharma practice shouldn't be just learning a few deep verses in Chan meditation, it is about realizing the true nature of your mind. We have to practice diligently to reach such an attainment. Hence even our tinniest actions should be taken in respect to karma, says Guru Rinpoche. Just like a lion is capable of jumping across a river, but a rabbit cannot. Our actions shouldn't go beyond the capability of our mind.
Master Tsongkapa once said: "All words of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can be used as guidance for our practice", which means every word they said must be helpful for sentient beings' liberation, directly or indirectly. Hence we should combine Dharma studies, contemplation and actual practices together, use Buddha's teachings to subdue major discriminating thoughts, that is very necessary. As it said in "Bodhisattva's Way of Life": "Upon realizing the emptiness nature of phenomena, you would have nothing else to gain or loss." That is Shantideva's teaching to help us remove the eight worldly afflictions. We would be able to seize most dualistic conflicts in the world, once we arise firm faith on the emptiness nature of matters. Therefore, we should extract the essence from Buddha's teaching and use it on our practices