How Far Can A Householder Proceed

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby arijitmitter » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:49 pm

Give or take a few days, I have been studying Buddhism for about 3 months now. I have learned about anicca, dukkha, anatta. I have read few of the most important Suttas and learned about Dependent Origination. I have adopted the five precepts ( they were already present in my life to begin with, three months back ). Meditation is there when I have the time.

But my question is - how much can a lay Buddhist actually expect to proceed. In some religions for the lay person there is prayer. But Buddha is not a Divine being and he clearly rules out any appeal for intercessory prayer. Much of Buddhism beyond the first 100 lines is meant for monks. Buddha has made it reasonably clear that you cannot live in a house, be a family man and achieve much in spiritual life. He himself left his home. But being a wealthy person and son of a King he did not have to worry about welfare of his wife and son. Also his wife gracefully accepted him when he returned. I am not sure my wife will.

We can study the Suttas and think of their meaning and any hidden meaning. But that alone does not make one progress on the spiritual path. Far from it. Reading 1000 pages of the Suttas or economics is no different unless you are going to live in a monastery and meditate at a stretch reaching higher and higher stages.

Yes we become better. I have become a better person in last 90 days. I speak slowly and calmly, I do not speak unless I have a reason to, I contemplate more, I am more philosophical, I have understood the nature of my life as it is ( that my sorrows are part of my Kamma and no matter how much I howl is my Kamma going to let me be alone; I have to pay for my sins in this life and in lives before and it is better to do it in a dignified and calm manner ).

Next is what ?
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby Zenainder » Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:30 pm

arijitmitter wrote:Give or take a few days, I have been studying Buddhism for about 3 months now. I have learned about anicca, dukkha, anatta. I have read few of the most important Suttas and learned about Dependent Origination. I have adopted the five precepts ( they were already present in my life to begin with, three months back ). Meditation is there when I have the time.

But my question is - how much can a lay Buddhist actually expect to proceed. In some religions for the lay person there is prayer. But Buddha is not a Divine being and he clearly rules out any appeal for intercessory prayer. Much of Buddhism beyond the first 100 lines is meant for monks. Buddha has made it reasonably clear that you cannot live in a house, be a family man and achieve much in spiritual life. He himself left his home. But being a wealthy person and son of a King he did not have to worry about welfare of his wife and son. Also his wife gracefully accepted him when he returned. I am not sure my wife will.

We can study the Suttas and think of their meaning and any hidden meaning. But that alone does not make one progress on the spiritual path. Far from it. Reading 1000 pages of the Suttas or economics is no different unless you are going to live in a monastery and meditate at a stretch reaching higher and higher stages.

Yes we become better. I have become a better person in last 90 days. I speak slowly and calmly, I do not speak unless I have a reason to, I contemplate more, I am more philosophical, I have understood the nature of my life as it is ( that my sorrows are part of my Kamma and no matter how much I howl is my Kamma going to let me be alone; I have to pay for my sins in this life and in lives before and it is better to do it in a dignified and calm manner ).

Next is what ?


Essentially only the path, but ultimately nothing.

A detriment to the path is concocting another set of concepts to strive for, which results in another carrot on the stick mentality leading to more stress. Nibanna is not a place or state, it's essentially emptiness (not in a sad way). The path is simply realizing further the nature of reality: not-self, suffering, and impermanent.

Continue mindfulness training on and off the pillow. Bear forward with no expectation of progress or regressing. A lay follower can achieve enlightenment (some say its harder than a monk). It can be helpful to read teachings by folks like Bhikkhu Bodhi or Ajahn Chah (there are many others). In the end, be heedful.

Are your familiar with the deeper paths of meditation such as jhanas?

Zen
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby arijitmitter » Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:42 pm

Zenainder wrote:Are your familiar with the deeper paths of meditation such as jhanas?


Deeper and deeper states of meditation ( as far as time will allow and life will allow; I cannot meditate very well after being hauled over the coals at work ) is of course there and will be there as a life long practice.

So you are saying this is it - the calm center I have found ( and that calm center has been tested also ). My reaction ( stress ) has gone down tremendously - when stuck in traffic I no longer cuss why I did not take another route but quietly observe my breath. When poked I smile. When aggravated I smile. When unhappy I smile.

Is that it ...

Now only read the Suttas slowly as far as time allows and meditate ?
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby Zenainder » Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:30 pm

arijitmitter wrote:
Zenainder wrote:Are your familiar with the deeper paths of meditation such as jhanas?


Deeper and deeper states of meditation ( as far as time will allow and life will allow; I cannot meditate very well after being hauled over the coals at work ) is of course there and will be there as a life long practice.

So you are saying this is it - the calm center I have found ( and that calm center has been tested also ). My reaction ( stress ) has gone down tremendously - when stuck in traffic I no longer cuss why I did not take another route but quietly observe my breath. When poked I smile. When aggravated I smile. When unhappy I smile.

Is that it ...

Now only read the Suttas slowly as far as time allows and meditate ?


Haha those are definitely observable phenonom that occur as you tread forward. You will also see your views evolve, compassion grow, etc. there are a number of fruits, but they are not the goal; let them inspire your practice for sure! Dwell and explore calm, objectively observe it! As you would be present for undesireable situations also do so for desireable. I've realized bliss in the most mundane activities in my own path. :lol:

If it is of interests to you an effective practice is Anapanasati and has a set of instructions that may help you continue to develop insight. In the end, you want to see firsthand or the dawning of insight of not self, impermanence, and suffering. Don't think, "ah I intellectually understand this and find it agreeable" and stop there. Be present and see it for yourself. Don't force yourself to see it, just be present. Its like when the sun dawns, it doesn't dawn at your will, all "you" need to do is be present and it will dawn naturally; I've come to find that the dhamma behaves in much the same manner.

My advice is to be present (heedful). If you are struggling in your practice bhikku's are often very compassionate and eager to assist lay persons. Be heedful at work and observe "being raked over the coals"; you may end up chuckling as I have at how serious we take life (not that I fail in my duties, I just see them for what they are). Also, don't get lost in the semantics of "how" to practice, just practice and find what works for your temperment. There are many strategies!!!

Its a very sweet path. Let it be and it will rise on its own. Be heedful! :)

Metta,

Zen

P.S. - I am an American "layperson" and work as an engineer. Married and plan on having children. The many hats I wear in the day as husband, friend, coworker, brother, son, etc. I am simply heedful. I think, and maybe I am alone in this, its easy to get lost in the concept of being Buddhist and renunciation (which are skillful means) and think that "I must give up... EVERYTHING???!" In the end, it is the grasping and attachment to these things that is unfettered. You are simply present as they occur or are required. (I could be completely wrong [it's happened before]).
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby santa100 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:40 pm

How far one can proceed is directly proportional to how far one is willing to let go. And it's not just the obvious defilements but also the subtlest underlying tendencies. While a householder might be able to eliminate the grosser delilements without much trouble, s/he will have a tougher time eliminating those underlying tendencies (compared to monks) because lay life is bound up with such heavy baggage: job, money, properties, family, wife and kids, all kinds of responsibilites to manage, etc. That's why although lay folks were mentioned frequently in the suttas for attaining stream entry and once return, there're much rarer instances for those who attained non-return and arahantship. That's why that common stock phrase was mentioned frequently in the Nikayas: "it's not easy living at home to practice the holy life totally perfect, totally pure, like a polished shell. What if I were to shave off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness?". But hey, if stream entry could be attained in this life for lay folks, it wouldn't be too shabby at all..
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby Bakmoon » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:32 pm

A lay person can go all the way, or at least very high. The Buddha's own father Sudhodana was a layperson and became an Arahant shortly before he died, and there are prominent lay people mentioned in the Suttas who became Anagamis. The question isn't whether you are lay or ordained, but rather how much you devote yourself to practice.

The next step is to practice the path as best you can. Keep the precepts to the best of your abilities, enjoy entertainment in moderation, and perhaps consider occasionally taking the 8 precepts.

Meditation is the big one though. If you want to make real progress, you will need to make meditation a priority in your life. I would recommend meditating in the morning and the evening and maintain mindfulness throughout the day.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby reflection » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:47 pm

In a way, once reached right view, the rest of the path is a given. So if we agree householders can see beyond self view -which I for one think they can- then they can also go all the way. Perhaps not in this life but then very soon after. The difference is really quite negligible.

But that said, it is not particularly useful to generalize either laypeople or monks. If some householders can reach right view doesn't say they all can. And monkhood is no guarantee for it either.
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:46 am

Bakmoon wrote:A lay person can go all the way, or at least very high. The Buddha's own father Sudhodana was a layperson and became an Arahant shortly before he died, and there are prominent lay people mentioned in the Suttas who became Anagamis. The question isn't whether you are lay or ordained, but rather how much you devote yourself to practice.

The next step is to practice the path as best you can. Keep the precepts to the best of your abilities, enjoy entertainment in moderation, and perhaps consider occasionally taking the 8 precepts.

Meditation is the big one though. If you want to make real progress, you will need to make meditation a priority in your life. I would recommend meditating in the morning and the evening and maintain mindfulness throughout the day.


Just a counter point not an argument. Buddha's father was a King. He did not have to worry about income. A millionaire who builds a hut in his mansion's garden and leads a simple life is same as a monk ( in sense of freedom ). If his child has tummy ache he need not get up from meditation. His aide or personal assistant will make sure a good physician sees the child.

To expand, if you earn $ 70,000 and you are a middle class American and raising a child with it's attendant problems - it is not same as a modern day King raising a child having redecorated his 40 room apartment for 1.5 million dollars ( refer to news ). They don't have to change diapers, we do. And life of a householder is made of diapers ( metaphorical ones that is ).

Money is freedom, whether freedom to climb Mt Everest or become an arahant.

My worst problem is whenever I want to proceed further in meditation, something happens - the cell phone starts to give trouble, the faucet starts to leak, a friend needs help, the car leaks coolant .......... and I guess that is problem of everyone in this Forum, not mine alone. So a lay householder has limited scope to proceed beyond a point. I have not been able to get clear 48 hours in my home to meditate in last 30 days ( 48 hours when I am totally undisturbed and not needed; I live with just one more person and have no child )

To give an example, I live in Calcutta and there are Vipassana classes run here by famous Vipassana master S N Goenka. He is quite old and may pass away soon. So I feel a sense of urgency to learn from him at least once. The minimum elementary course is 3 days. It is advised you do not work the day before and the day after. That is 5 days off from work. Elementary courses are taken by others whom he has taught.

Only after two such 3 day retreats at least, he allows learning full Vipassana in 10 day course. Yes tons of people attend it but they are all millionaires or housewives with no work and grown children. S N Goenka only teaches those who have done two 3 day courses and are in 10 day or 20 day courses.

I know that maybe I can squeeze in a 3 day course in next 12 months but 10 day course .. perhaps on my way to heaven ( or hell ) I will have 10 days to spare.
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby fig tree » Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:34 am

The canon recommends Citta the Householder, who became a non-returner, as a role model for householders:

"If a devout lay woman should admonish her only son whom she dearly loves, she would rightly do so by saying: 'My dear son, you should be like Citta the householder or Hatthaka of Alavi!' — because these two are model and exemplar for my lay devotees. (And she should further say:) 'But if, my dear, you should go forth from home into the homeless life (of a monk), you should be like Sariputta and Moggallana!' — because they are model and exemplar for bhikkhu disciples."

— Samyutta Nikaya 17, 23


(quoted from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/hecker/wheel263.html).

We once had a discussion of the traditional belief that a householder who becomes an arahant either ordains or dies within a day. I don't remember the original source for that.

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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:40 am

fig tree wrote:The canon recommends Citta the Householder, who became a non-returner, as a role model for householders:
Fig Tree


Thank you Fig Tree for helping prove my point. Citta was a rich person. He once carried 500 cart loads of alms for Buddha and donated a mango grove to the Sangha. Certainly a millionaire.
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby Bakmoon » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:11 am

arijitmitter wrote:
fig tree wrote:The canon recommends Citta the Householder, who became a non-returner, as a role model for householders:
Fig Tree


Thank you Fig Tree for helping prove my point. Citta was a rich person. He once carried 500 cart loads of alms for Buddha and donated a mango grove to the Sangha. Certainly a millionaire.


Citta wasn't the only householder to become a non-returner though. For example, under the dispensation of the Buddha Kassapa there was a layman called Ghaṭīkāra and he was a non-returner, and he lived by making pots and bartering them for whatever he needed, and so he was able to eek out enough of a living to care for his two blind elderly parents.

The full story is at MN81 http://www.palicanon.org/index.php/sutt ... the-potter
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby Zenainder » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:26 am

Money does not make life easier, quite naive to think as such. It comes down to your practice on the pillow and followed through with heedfulness off the pillow. Life happens to the poor, rich, homeless, or even a bhikkhu. Life is suffering with or without money.
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby santa100 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:44 pm

There's some important details about Ghatikara in MN 81 that we need to keep in mind. From Ven. Bodhi's note:
Ghatikara's conduct approximates as closely to that of a monk as is possible for one still leading the household life. MA explains that he does not trade in the pottery he makes but merely engages in a free exchange of services with his neighbours.


And what were his conducts that lead to the fruit of non-returning? Here're some of them:
He has unwavering confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, and he possesses the virtues loved by noble ones. He is free from doubt about suffering, about the origin of suffering, about the cessation of suffering, and about the way leading to the cessation of suffering. He eats only one meal a day, he observes celibacy, he is virtuous, of good character. He has laid aside gems and gold, he has given up gold and silver. He does not dig the ground for clay with a pick or with his own hands; what has broken off riverbanks or is thrown up by rats, he brings home in a carrier; when he has made a pot he says: “Let anyone who likes set down some selected rice or selected beans or selected lentils, and let him take away whatever he likes.” He supports his blind and aged parents. Having destroyed the five lower fetters, he is one who will reappear spontaneously [in the Pure Abodes] and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world.


Sure, any householder can attain the higher fruits...as long as s/he observes AT LEAST those requirements above first..
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby Zenainder » Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:41 pm

santa100 wrote:There's some important details about Ghatikara in MN 81 that we need to keep in mind. From Ven. Bodhi's note:
Ghatikara's conduct approximates as closely to that of a monk as is possible for one still leading the household life. MA explains that he does not trade in the pottery he makes but merely engages in a free exchange of services with his neighbours.


And what were his conducts that lead to the fruit of non-returning? Here're some of them:
He has unwavering confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, and he possesses the virtues loved by noble ones. He is free from doubt about suffering, about the origin of suffering, about the cessation of suffering, and about the way leading to the cessation of suffering. He eats only one meal a day, he observes celibacy, he is virtuous, of good character. He has laid aside gems and gold, he has given up gold and silver. He does not dig the ground for clay with a pick or with his own hands; what has broken off riverbanks or is thrown up by rats, he brings home in a carrier; when he has made a pot he says: “Let anyone who likes set down some selected rice or selected beans or selected lentils, and let him take away whatever he likes.” He supports his blind and aged parents. Having destroyed the five lower fetters, he is one who will reappear spontaneously [in the Pure Abodes] and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world.


Sure, any householder can attain the higher fruits...as long as s/he observes AT LEAST those requirements above first..


The definition is ambiguous. The three core for stream entry is the three lower fetters, how that exactly manifests in an individual's life is not restricted to your quote. This is certainly an inspiring example and one to contemplate!

Renunciation takes first place in the mind and then in action. Take for instance if I realize an ability to objectively observe the desire for sexual activity, it only burns as strong as my attachment to said desire. The desire may arise, I may note it, and it will cease. Over time as that relationship with this desire changes and when it arises it will not happen with overwhelming lust. In a future mind state it will be realized fundamentally as suffering and thus a letting go occurs. A householder who is married, even after this occurs, may or may not still engage in sexual activity and may do so out of devotion for spouse. The main difference being that attachment does not occur within the mind.

Much in the same way can eating occur without attachment. Eating will occur so long as the body needs to be sustained. Same for body washing. Walking. Life events will still occur to stream entrants, the difference between them vs our current condition is attachment. There is still a "going" in life post stream-entry and to final liberation where the "whirlpool" is finally qualmed and it is only there that you see a complete stilling of activity.

Although it may be honorable as a bhikkhu to refrain completely from many things, that is monastic life and I do honor that. However, we as householders must balance our lives as we see fit (which is a continuous event) and it may or may not occur exactly in the same fashion as Ghatikara.
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby arijitmitter » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:14 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
For example, under the dispensation of the Buddha Kassapa there was a layman called Ghaṭīkāra and he was a non-returner, and he lived by making pots and bartering them for whatever he needed, and so he was able to eek out enough of a living to care for his two blind elderly parents.


Eking out a bare living is being a monastic by another name or rather ascetic by another name. Since people hardly buy clay pots anymore, I doubt if it is possible for anyone to suggest a living which will permanently provide wherewithal for very essential existence. If you are a gas station attendant you may get sacked. It may take five months for you to find a new job and in meantime you will starve. Starving is not an ideal condition for proceeding on spiritual path as Buddha himself discovered.

Zenainder wrote:
Money does not make life easier, quite naive to think as such.


Money makes life easier as long as you do not get caught up in tangle of unnecessary cravings. I know well to do people who are very happy. But that maybe due to Indian cultural traditions; many wealthy people here remain simple. Many, many Indians can afford a Mercedes but they remain quite happy with a Honda City. Wealth brings pain only when you are attentive to the fact that you are wealthy ( buying 60" televisions, $ 100,000 music systems ). A CEO I had pleasure to work with purchased a small BMW to reward himself after making $ 200 million for himself. Till then ( the final deal that doubled his fortune ) when he still had above $ 100 million he drove a Honda City. With $ 200 million his family has 2 cars - the BMW and a made in India tiny SUV.

A devout Buddhist with no money and a devout Buddhist with $ 10 million in savings - both have daughters with cancer. Who is happier ( in the narrow sense that happiness is providing your daughter with proper medical procedures regardless of the fact that it may or may not cure the disease ). What am I supposed to say to my daughter when she has cancer - look kiddo I was making clay pots to reach Nibbana; so tough luck I cannot even afford painkillers for you let alone chemo and surgery.

In plain and simple terms, beyond a point it is not possible to proceed on spiritual path unless one gives up the world or one has enough wealth to ignore the world.
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby santa100 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:28 pm

Zenainder wrote:Renunciation takes first place in the mind and then in action. Take for instance if I realize an ability to objectively observe the desire for sexual activity, it only burns as strong as my attachment to said desire. The desire may arise, I may note it, and it will cease. Over time as that relationship with this desire changes and when it arises it will not happen with overwhelming lust. In a future mind state it will be realized fundamentally as suffering and thus a letting go occurs. A householder who is married, even after this occurs, may or may not still engage in sexual activity and may do so out of devotion for spouse. The main difference being that attachment does not occur within the mind.


This is ambiguous. Are you saying one can still engage in sexual activity without a single trace of attachment to sensual lust? Physiologically speaking, it's not even possible for a man to carry out this "duty" to his wife without a single trace of sensual lust.. :tongue: Ok, seriously, MN 81 was quite clear about the case of Ghatikara attaining non-return thru his conducts as specified. One of which is observing celibacy. One of the key mark of non-return is the "destruction of the five lower fetters" (identity view, wrong grasp of rules, doubt, ill will, AND sensual lust). Skipping this important fetter, at best a householder could only reach once-return, which is defined as the destruction of the lower 3 fetters and the "weakening" of lust, hatred, and delusion..
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby Zenainder » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:53 pm

santa100 wrote:
Zenainder wrote:Renunciation takes first place in the mind and then in action. Take for instance if I realize an ability to objectively observe the desire for sexual activity, it only burns as strong as my attachment to said desire. The desire may arise, I may note it, and it will cease. Over time as that relationship with this desire changes and when it arises it will not happen with overwhelming lust. In a future mind state it will be realized fundamentally as suffering and thus a letting go occurs. A householder who is married, even after this occurs, may or may not still engage in sexual activity and may do so out of devotion for spouse. The main difference being that attachment does not occur within the mind.


This is ambiguous. Are you saying one can still engage in sexual activity without a single trace of attachment to sensual lust? Physiologically speaking, it's not even possible for a man to carry out this "duty" to his wife without a single trace of sensual lust.. :tongue: Ok, seriously, MN 81 was quite clear about the case of Ghatikara attaining non-return thru his conducts as specified. One of which is observing celibacy. One of the key mark of non-return is the "destruction of the five lower fetters" (identity view, wrong grasp of rules, doubt, ill will, AND sensual lust). Skipping this important fetter, at best a householder could only reach once-return, which is defined as the destruction of the lower 3 fetters and the "weakening" of lust, hatred, and delusion..


Well, I had a thoughtful response and it failed to post. I will cut it short and humorously say you are "wrong" and skip away happily. :lol:

*be advised sarcasm may be present within this message
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby Bakmoon » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:26 pm

The sutta never says that Ghaṭīkāra attained non-returning from the practice of holding these precepts. In fact, when look at the textual context in which this is mentioned, it gives a rather different impression. It says:

MN81 Ghaṭīkāra Sutta - Ghaṭīkāra the Potter wrote:17. “Then, it being morning, the Blessed One Kassapa, accomplished and fully enlightened, dressed, and taking his bowl and outer robe, he went with the Sangha of bhikkhus to the dwelling of King Kikī of Kāsi and sat down on the seat made ready. Then, with his own hands, King Kikī of Kāsi served and satisfied the Sangha of bhikkhus headed by the Buddha with the various kinds of good food. When the Blessed One Kassapa, accomplished and fully enlightened, had eaten and had put his bowl aside, King Kikī of Kāsi took a low seat, sat down at one side and said: ‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One accept from me a residence for the Rains in Benares; there will be such service to the Sangha.’—‘Enough, king, my residence for the Rains has already been provided for.’

“A second and a third time King Kikī of Kāsi said: ‘Venerable sir, let the Blessed One accept from me a residence for the Rains in Benares; that will be helpful for the Sangha.’—‘Enough, king, my residence for the Rains has already been provided for.’

“The king thought: ‘The Blessed One Kassapa, [51] accomplished and fully enlightened, does not accept from me a residence for the Rains in Benares,’ and he was very disappointed and sad.

18. “Then he said: ‘Venerable sir, have you a better supporter than I am?’—‘I have, great king. There is a market town called Vebhalinga where a potter named Ghaṭīkāra lives. He is my supporter, my chief supporter. Now you, great king, thought: “The Blessed One Kassapa, accomplished and fully enlightened, does not accept from me a residence for the Rains in Benares,” and you were very disappointed and sad; but the potter Ghaṭīkāra is not and will not be so. The potter Ghaṭīkāra has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. He abstains from killing living beings, from taking what is not given, from misconduct in sensual pleasures, from false speech, and from wine, liquor, and intoxicants, which are the basis of negligence. He has unwavering confidence in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, and he possesses the virtues loved by noble ones. He is free from doubt about suffering, about the origin of suffering, about the cessation of suffering, and about the way leading to the cessation of suffering. He eats only one meal a day, he observes celibacy, he is virtuous, of good character. He has laid aside gems and gold, he has given up gold and silver. He does not dig the ground for clay with a pick or with his own hands; what has broken off riverbanks or is thrown up by rats, he brings home in a carrier; when he has made a pot he says: “Let anyone who likes set down some selected rice or selected beans or selected lentils, and let him take away whatever he likes.”794 He supports his blind and aged parents. [52] Having destroyed the five lower fetters, he is one who will reappear spontaneously [in the Pure Abodes] and there attain final Nibbāna without ever returning from that world.


In context we see that the Buddha Kassapa gave this description of Ghaṭīkāra in response to a specific question. King Kikī of Kāsi wanted to invite the Buddha Kassapa to stay the rains retreat under his support, and was denied, and asked about the qualities of who the Buddha's chief supporter was. When viewed in this context, it is clear that the Buddha Kassapa was describing Ghaṭīkāra's traits first in terms of virtue and secondly in terms of spiritual attainments. The Buddha Kassapa was not giving an instruction on how Ghaṭīkāra actually attained non-returning, but was merely describing his positive traits as a justification for receiving the rains residence from him, so we cannot use this description to conclude that this was the means he attained non-returning. We can't even conclude that he kept these practices prior to attaining it.

I think that the example of Ghaṭīkāra is an apt example though to show that laypeople can gain high attainments. It is true that he lived a very ascetic life in terms of not following sensual pleasures, but he wasn't very monastic in terms of lifestyle otherwise. It must have required a lot of exertion and work for him to be able to support himself bartering with pots he made himself and taking care of his parents for example. He wasn't like a monk living in the forest meditating for 16 hours a day.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
Bakmoon
 
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby arijitmitter » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:35 am

Bakmoon wrote:I think that the example of Ghaṭīkāra is an apt example though to show that laypeople can gain high attainments. It is true that he lived a very ascetic life in terms of not following sensual pleasures, but he wasn't very monastic in terms of lifestyle otherwise. It must have required a lot of exertion and work for him to be able to support himself bartering with pots he made himself and taking care of his parents for example. He wasn't like a monk living in the forest meditating for 16 hours a day.


Please read MN 81 carefully. Ghatikara did not bargain. He said give what you want rice, lentils and take what you want. Potters in India would work two weeks and make lots of pots etc and take two weeks off. So he probably had plenty of off time.

Unless you work in a factory or office you are not required to work daily. Does a farmer in the West work daily ? ( agricultural farmers not cow and pig owning farmers ). Between sowing a crop and harvesting it they have plenty of time. Between harvesting and waiting for next crop cycle they have plenty of time. Life of a farmer is long spells of no work or little work and sudden spurts of lot of work for few weeks.

Daily work is a creation of Industrial Revolution.

He was not in a forest, but urban settlements at that time had plenty of foliage. A man would not need to walk more than 1000 feet to find dense woods unless he lived in a place like Varanasi. And only one or two places matched that size in ancient India. Even now when we have 1.2 billion population you do not need to walk more than half a mile to find dense woods in a semi urban, rural area.
Last edited by arijitmitter on Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
arijitmitter
 
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Re: How Far Can A Householder Proceed

Postby SarathW » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:47 am

When I think about this issue in a lighter note, the biggest road block, for a house holder is to maintain a celibacy life. With very little experience I have, I am not sure whether all monks observe celibacy anyway! When I go to a temple what I see is that the monk’s life is harder and busier than a lay person. They spent too much time with building temples and attending to rituals. This issue also should give enough weighing to the number of monks who attain any spiritual attainment as well.
I have very little exposure to forest monks.
If someone is single and got the internet, they will have all the support require to attain Nirvana. Doing a day job is not a major hurdle . If Buddha was here today he would have used internet as his Dhamma launching pad! :coffee: What we need are some very good monks to support us.
In my opinion a person should try his very best to live like a monk before he leave his/her house hold life. The best place to try your virtues is the householder life. If you can survive here you can survive anywhere.
Having said all this I have not eliminate the possibility that one day I also will be a monk wearing a robe. :)
Please give some thought to the attached article if you are planning to become a monk. Please note that I do not endorse the content of this article. It is just some food for thought.

http://www.theravada-dhamma.org/pdf/Dha ... Buddha.pdf
SarathW
 
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