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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

The Renunciation Diet: We are never fully present while our efforts are motivated by a consumer oriented mentality.

Mar 03, 2017 10:08AM ● By Seijaku Roshi


We are never fully present while our efforts are motivated by a consumer oriented mentality. To truly “be present” we need to learn to stop doing things for its usefulness or its rewards. To do anything including mindfulness, meditation, or yoga, in order to get something out of it is the way of the world. Until the caterpillar renounces the way of the caterpillar, no butterfly.

~ Seijaku Roshi

I often think about a dear friend of mine who one day joined me for lunch at a local diner. We sat down and reviewed the menu and then ordered our meals. I watched him order the fried clam basket and curly fries. He then asked the waitress to bring him a “Diet Coke.” I asked him, “Do you like drinking Diet Coke?” He replied, “I’m trying to lose some weight.” There is a Zen saying, “A day of lying and stealing, meditation will not cure.” Dieting for the body or as in Zen training, for the mind, is holistic. I regularly warn students and guests that spirituality is not a supplement to one’s existing unhealthy behaviors. Anyone in the field of nutrition or physical training will tell you no matter what you do at the gym, if you never change your eating habits or diet, forget about losing weight. No matter what supplements or vitamins you take, or even if you drink a “Diet Coke.”

Spirituality without “renunciation” is not possible. Since ancient times the monk and the pilgrim, before stepping on to the path, “renounced the ways of the world”. The author Orest Bedrij writes, “To know God without being God-like is like trying to swim without entering the water.” Spirit takes us beyond what is reasonable, calling us from the familiar to the unfamiliar. We must be willing to walk the path where “angels dare to go,” and where ancient pilgrims made their way “through the valley of the shadow of death.” Studying Zen or one of the many yoga styles or applying mindfulness techniques just whenever we feel stressed does not heal us or awaken the butterfly. Embodying the Spirit, becoming God-like, does. 

The world will change only when we chose to become the new world. The obstacles which stand between us and that world will collapse when we love unconditionally until they do. We must not only embrace the notion of our Divinity, we must embody the Divine. I tell everyone, “You don't have to become a monk to live like a monk. But you have to live like one.”

It’s March, try marching to the beat of Spirit.

I love you.

Seijaku Roshi is the founder and spiritual director of The Zen Society, Pine Wind Zen Community, at 863 McKendimen Rd., in Shamong, NJ. He is a Zen-Buddhist Monk, parent, author, life coach and Abbot. Learn more by visiting  

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