Big doubts

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Hoja
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Big doubts

Postby Hoja » Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:07 am

Perhaps is due to my lack of knowledge in the suttas, but sometimes I have a big doubt about the Dhamma as a valid path for a lay person. It's difficult to do it in english, but let me explain it a bit: I come from a catholic background where, besides its hierarchycal structure, the goal (afterlife in heaven) is the same for both lay and clerigy. They believe that both can accomplish that goal.

But in Buddhism I have that feeling that the goal is just for ordained people and lay people only can make good merits and wish to be a monk next live. I've tryied to find stories about lay practitioners, but besides Layman P'ang stories in the Ch'an tradition my search wasn't successful. So there is that feeling and it's quite frustrant, because I can't leave my wife and daughter at their own and I can't fully aspire to attain liberation if not being a renunciant. I'm confused.

What do you think? What's the role and goal for lay people in Buddhism, and especially in Theravada?

Metta
Hernán

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mikenz66
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Re: Big doubts

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:16 am

There are plenty of Suttas about lay people at various stages:

http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ra-e1.html
Ghatikana the potter is a non-returner in this discourse.

http://awake.kiev.ua/dhamma/tipitaka/2S ... ta-e1.html
Talks about achievements of lay and monastic disciples.

Metta
Mike

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Re: Big doubts

Postby nathan » Tue Jul 14, 2009 7:32 am

If you pursue an interest in the Theravada teachings and practices, in the long run, you'll find that all of these kinds of concerns, such as, do I need to be a monk or not, do I need to do this or do that, believe this or believe that, are mostly irrelevant. In the long run, every kind of consistently performed meditative practice will teach you that appearances are of merely superficial importance. That is to say, the appearances of things are only important to those who must rely on only the superficial appearances of things.

So, better to simply meditate. That will resolve a lot of questions, a ton of questions get asked on the buddhist message boards simply because people don't take meditation seriously. Do that and it should very directly resolve about 99% of your questions. The other 1% will be very specific and (for you) important questions that, again, nine times out of ten, you will be in the best position to answer for yourself and in the end you will have to make the decisions in any case.

You can undertake to study and or practice Theravada Buddhism and be a Catholic family man too, just as many here are also family men, or Catholic, or protestant or whatever.

:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: Big doubts

Postby rowyourboat » Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:00 am

yes, lay people can achieve the stages of 'sanctity' of stream entry, once-returner and non-returner stages. However there are very few people becoming fully enlightened as lay people. It is slightly more difficult than for a monk because of other duties, but it is possible to go very far - at least 75% of the path. Even if you get to the first stage you will see what a blessing that is. I sometimes think it is better to be a lay person because you will have access to a multitude of teachings and teachers that monks may not have.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: Big doubts

Postby appicchato » Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:15 am

As so beautifully stated in the very first saying of the Dhammapada, it's ALL about the mind...robes, or no robes, it's the mind's realization of the Dhamma that is our work cut out for us...everything else is but an 'aid to navigation'...at least that's this wanderer's read (and constantly in need of 'course correction') on the situation...stick with it, everything's continually changing and nothing (meaningful) happens overnight...hopefully we'll all get there somewhere down the pike... :smile:

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Re: Big doubts

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:43 am

Venerable Appicchato is cool 8-)

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Big doubts

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:53 am

retrofuturist wrote:Venerable Appicchato is cool 8-)

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)

:goodpost:
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Big doubts

Postby Ben » Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:21 am

Hi Tantrayogi

You've got brilliant advice in this thread.
I grew up in a staunch catholic family and like you, i have a wife and children.

Here's some articles you might find inspiring:
Buddhist Women at the Time of The Buddha, Hellmuth Hecker: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el292.html
Anathapindika: The Great Benefactor, by Hellmuth Hecker: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el334.html
Metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Big doubts

Postby Dhammabodhi » Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:04 pm

Hi Tantrayogi,

Being in a similar situation I share your concern. Since I'm a beginner myself, I cannot give you assurances like the other advanced people here, but I can share some of my sources of inspiration(Due to my restricted knowledge, I'm only giving names of such people who have lived and taught in India). In the buddhist tradition the life of Dipa Ma is immensely inspiring for me. Without being a monk, many believe she reached Arahantship and she also helped many, many householders(especially women with children). In our own times S.N. Goenka is another example who has been able to become a guiding light for many people without being a monk.

There are also many people in different Hindu traditions who were thought to have achieved some level of supramundane states of mind without renunciating the world, some prominent names include Lahiri Mahasaya, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Poonjaji aka Papaji, and Amiya Roy Chowdhary aka Dadaji(who vehemently opposed renunciation).

I hope their life stories give you inspiration and strength,
With Metta,
Dhammabodhi
-Samāhitam cittam yathābhutam pajānāti.

समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

'Straight' is this path, fearlessness is its way.

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Re: Big doubts

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:15 pm

Ajahn Chah said something profound (for me) in relation to walking the path


In the same way, the nature of all san˙kha¯ras is imper-manence and death, but we want to grab them, we carry them about and covet them.
We want them to be true. We want to find truth within the things that
aren’t true. Whenever someone sees like this and clings to the san kharas as being himself, he suffers.

The practice of Dhamma is not dependent on being a monk, a
novice or a layman; it depends on straightening out your understanding.
If our understanding is correct, we arrive at peace. Whether you
are ordained or not it’s the same, every person has the chance to practise
Dhamma, to contemplate it. We all contemplate the same thing. If you
attain peace, it’s all the same peace; it’s the same path, with the same
methods.

Therefore the Buddha didn’t discriminate between laymen and monks,
he taught all people to practise to know the truth of the san˙kha¯ras. When
we know this truth, we let them go. If we know the truth there will be no
more becoming or birth.


metta
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Big doubts

Postby Individual » Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:17 pm

Tantrayogi wrote:Perhaps is due to my lack of knowledge in the suttas, but sometimes I have a big doubt about the Dhamma as a valid path for a lay person. It's difficult to do it in english, but let me explain it a bit: I come from a catholic background where, besides its hierarchycal structure, the goal (afterlife in heaven) is the same for both lay and clerigy. They believe that both can accomplish that goal.

But in Buddhism I have that feeling that the goal is just for ordained people and lay people only can make good merits and wish to be a monk next live. I've tryied to find stories about lay practitioners, but besides Layman P'ang stories in the Ch'an tradition my search wasn't successful. So there is that feeling and it's quite frustrant, because I can't leave my wife and daughter at their own and I can't fully aspire to attain liberation if not being a renunciant. I'm confused.

What do you think? What's the role and goal for lay people in Buddhism, and especially in Theravada?

Metta
Hernán

In Theravada, I'd have to agree with you that there seems to be the clear distinction between the goals of monasticism being full enlightenment and laypersons being mere merit-makers, even though there are examples in the suttas of laypeople being spontaneously enlightened. The Buddha himself first embarked upon the ascetic life because he observed (and a certain deva told him) that seeking enlightenment in the lay life is more difficult. So, it is possible, but more difficult, because attachments must be overcome by power of mind instead of the removal of the desirable object, sort of like how it's harder for a smoker to quit when their friends smoke, or it's a bad idea for an alcoholic to be a bartender. However, I think that a person who is able to persevere, to live an ascetic life without being a monastic, this takes a rare form of personal endurance and mindfulness that I think will yield even greater results than running off to a cave, forest, or monastery, and strictly following a bunch of silly rules obsessively to avoid your own neuroticism... Not that that sort of thing isn't noble itself, too; it is.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Big doubts

Postby clw_uk » Tue Jul 14, 2009 2:22 pm

Renunciation is in the mind not moving somewhere in the external world



metta
“The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised." Verses on the Faith Mind, Sengcan

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Re: Big doubts

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:28 pm

Tantrayogi,

a] It is possible for a layperson to attain the highest goal.

b] Monastic life is more conducive to attaining the highest goal than lay life.

"The household life is crowded, a dusty road. Life gone forth is the open air. It isn't easy, living in a home, to lead the holy life that is totally perfect, totally pure, a polished shell." - the Buddha, MN 36

How much you try to develop the Path as a layperson is up to you. As a lay person you can practice generosity, keep precepts, practice renunciation, meditate... pretty much anything a monk can do. You just have to fit it in with all your other householder duties.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: Big doubts

Postby Individual » Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:23 pm

clw_uk wrote:Renunciation is in the mind not moving somewhere in the external world



metta

True, but changing one's environment (if possible and reasonable) can be a useful thing to do because one's mind is heavily influenced (made pure or impure) by the environment that it's in.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Big doubts

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jul 14, 2009 8:44 pm

well the monk life would be the easiest thats for sure. but what is your lay like life?
was it like the buddha's? do you have a harem and pestering parents and servents and are you a leader of a city state or being groomed to be one? while also having wife and son, ceremonies to attend, i'm sure his lay life was pretty full, more so than say mine, or most people i know. it seems he couldnt even dabble in spirituality, he had to make a run for it, just so happens that what he found left no reason to go back.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Big doubts

Postby appicchato » Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:49 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:...well the monk life would be the easiest thats for sure.


Easiest?...best, most conducive, facilitative, encouraging...maybe...but easiest?...not by a long one...not yet anyway... :smile:

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Re: Big doubts

Postby Hoja » Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:53 am

Thanks to all for your great input!!!!
I'm not sure if you know how worthy is this site for people like me... the only Theravadan temple in my country it's in a small laotian community at 1000 km from home. I'm really thankful to have this place to talk and learn with other fellows in this path.
:anjali:

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Re: Big doubts

Postby nathan » Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:15 am

appicchato wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:...well the monk life would be the easiest thats for sure.


Easiest?...best, most conducive, facilitative, encouraging...maybe...but easiest?...not by a long one...not yet anyway... :smile:


As a renunciative form of behavior the environment is intended to be more supportive than a worldly one, one need, of course, recognize the differences of orientation and emphasis and act accordingly. In terms of taking those actions, it is probably more work to realize the monastic optimums, but in terms of support for that action, the given monastic environments are generally still effectively intended to be more supportive. Given the conditions we all face in this century there is the need for an ongoing effort to actualize the ideal forms of either lay or monastic Nobility, regardless of which forms one works with.

:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: Big doubts

Postby adosa » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:06 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Venerable Appicchato is cool 8-)

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)

:goodpost:



Third!
:anjali:

Ron
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183

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Re: Big doubts

Postby nathan » Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:27 pm

adosa wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Venerable Appicchato is cool 8-)

:anjali:

Metta,
Retro. :)

:goodpost:



Third!
:anjali:

Ron

4
:anjali:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}


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