Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:12 am

Hi Mike
What is the definition of a monk?
To call oneself a monk, should he be ordained and follow the 228 rules?
What is the real road block for the lay person for not realising Arahantship?
:)
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby m12_shakes » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:20 pm

Also, further to the OP question (apologies for the slight hijack), but how does one find the "middle path" when relating to attachment ?

I have to work for a living, so on the grand scheme of things, I am personally attached to my job, as I need a house and money live on.

Now how do I find a balance on buying things that are necessary and "over indulging" on luxuries? I believe you get what you pay for, and I believe "you buy cheap, you buy twice". It's a simple rule I use on just about most things, clothes, cars etc.

For example, I am now in the market to replace my current car (it's the same care I've had for a number of years, and it's now giving me issues), however I'm now in a position to buy something far more reliable, i.e. a decent German saloon (sedan for my US buddies), which arguably would be better a better quality car, and less hassle in the long run. Would that be classed as necessary or over indulging?
Same with clothes, I would much rather purchase a decent tailored suit from a reputable London tailor, which would fit me vastly better and last me far longer than any off-the-peg suit would.
Even later on in life when I have children, I would like to send them to private school and give them all the opportunities to reach their educational potential, is that necessary or a luxury?

Where does one draw the line?
Kindest regards,

m12
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby Mkoll » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:28 pm

Dear m12,

I also agree with the "you get what you pay for" rule. It sounds like your intentions are pure. You aren't buying a nice car or suit to impress people but because they are functional and durable. And who wouldn't want to send their kids to a nice school if they could afford it? I see no reason not to spend your money on quality things for the right reasons.

Where one draws the line is where one draws the line.

That's just one opinion.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby Babadhari » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:48 pm

i think mkoll is correct in saying you get what you pay for.

i know one man in India who is to all intensive purposes an 'ascetic' ( eats one meal a day, practices yoga and meditation for 4 hours, wears robes) but has an expensive Japanese watch.

he told me many people ridiculed him for having a fancy watch instead of a cheap local made one. he then points out that his friends have replaced their watches many times in the twenty years that he has had this one watch, so in total he has saved much by the original investment.

you can use the things of this world but its how you view them that causes the attachment :namaste:
Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion.
Aflame, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs ......

Seeing thus, the disciple of the Noble One grows disenchanted. SN 35.28
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby m12_shakes » Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:11 pm

Thank you both, what you both said does make sense. I hope I can see the proverbial line when it's in front of me.
Kindest regards,

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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby SarathW » Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:28 pm

I do not believe that I always get what I paid for!
Yesterday I bought a three meter USB lead for $16.00 from Two Dollar shop which is sold in major stores for $60.00. Even
if it breaks I can buy it over four times.
:)
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:35 pm

m12_shakes wrote:Also, further to the OP question (apologies for the slight hijack), but how does one find the "middle path" when relating to attachment ?...

Here is some recent discussion:
mikenz66 wrote:I don't think "middle way" should be interpreted as just taking an average between this and that. It's much more radical than that.
...
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 53#p271051


:anjali:
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby santa100 » Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:56 pm

m12_shakes wrote: ..Now how do I find a balance on buying things that are necessary and "over indulging" on luxuries?..

Don't go for expensive brand names. While certainly being more expensive, they aren't necessary better than the regular ones. For example, a Toyota Corolla is much cheaper than a BMW, but it's just as reliable and maybe even outlasts the BMW. There's also the maintenance cost of luxury items. Even for a regular maintenance service, the cost of the BMW's parts replacements and labor would be more expensive than the Corolla's. Beside, there's the "peace of mind" factor. When you park your Corolla next to a BMW in a public parking lot, you know which one would be more likely to be vandalized or stolen. These things apply to other things too. A bigger and more luxurious house would require more maintenance costs and is a more attractive target to thieves and robbers. On education, if your kids are smart, they'll win scholarships to ivy league schools. Else they'll do just fine with public schools..
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:18 am

Hi Santa
It seems that your are reading my mind. :)
One of my friends bought a new BMW Roadster. His car breaks down on the road at least twice a year. It cost him a fortune.
My other friend got a Mazda and only does normal services and maintenance.
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby manas » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:35 am

seanandrews wrote:I feel as though I want to follow the Theravada path but have gotten a little discouraged when I have read online that Theravada Buddhism does not generally accept lay practitioners because of the amount of time needed to devote to meditation and/or that only a monk can attain nirvana and that laity can only aspire to be reborn as a monk after many reincarnations spent discharing the burden of karma.


Hi sean,

I too am an ordinary bloke, need to work, have kids etc - and in the twenty odd years I've been involved with Theravada Buddhism, I've never heard about this. I think we need to be careful about the source of what we read online, and what the motivation, or level of knowledge of Theravada Buddhism (or lack thereof) of the author might be! The Dhamma is open to all; monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen, adults, children...no restriction.

kind regards,
manas.
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby culaavuso » Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:03 am

m12_shakes wrote:Also, further to the OP question (apologies for the slight hijack), but how does one find the "middle path" when relating to attachment ?

I have to work for a living, so on the grand scheme of things, I am personally attached to my job, as I need a house and money live on.

Now how do I find a balance on buying things that are necessary and "over indulging" on luxuries? I believe you get what you pay for, and I believe "you buy cheap, you buy twice". It's a simple rule I use on just about most things, clothes, cars etc.

For example, I am now in the market to replace my current car (it's the same care I've had for a number of years, and it's now giving me issues), however I'm now in a position to buy something far more reliable, i.e. a decent German saloon (sedan for my US buddies), which arguably would be better a better quality car, and less hassle in the long run. Would that be classed as necessary or over indulging?
Same with clothes, I would much rather purchase a decent tailored suit from a reputable London tailor, which would fit me vastly better and last me far longer than any off-the-peg suit would.
Even later on in life when I have children, I would like to send them to private school and give them all the opportunities to reach their educational potential, is that necessary or a luxury?

Where does one draw the line?


I think the intentions and mental states connected with the requisites of the householder life are an important consideration in how to relate to them. If something is purchased out of greed or aversion, or with the intentions connected with the eight worldly conditions (gain, loss, praise, blame, good reputation, disrepute, pleasure, pain) then perhaps that is an unskillful activity. However, if something is purchased with the aim of sustaining the functions of the body and the household as a whole, then there is less cause for concern.

Monks have a recollection about the proper treatment of their four requisites:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/ariyesako/layguide.html#req4
"Properly considering the robe, I use it: simply to ward off cold, to ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, simply for the purpose of covering the parts of the body that cause shame.

"Properly considering almsfood, I use it: not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on weight, nor for beautification; but simply for the survival and continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the chaste life, (thinking) I will destroy old feelings (of hunger) and not create new feelings (from overeating). Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, and live in comfort.

"Properly considering the lodging, I use it: simply to ward off cold, to ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun and reptiles; simply for protection from the inclemencies of weather and for the enjoyment of seclusion.

"Properly considering medicinal requisites for curing the sick, I use them: simply to ward off any pains of illness that have arisen and for the maximum freedom from disease."


I think these serve as a useful guideline for serious lay practice. The important distinction is that sustaining a household has more requisites than simply sustaining a single human body, and so things like cars, alarm clocks, and computers can effectively be "requisites" from that perspective. Also useful to keep in mind is that the life of a householder is characterized by incomplete renunciation, but the fewer worldly goals we hold the more completely those goals can be achieved, as goals tend to have mutual conflicts in terms of time and money if nothing else. In that sense it can be useful to ask "Do I really need it?" and "What other goals would this compromise? Is it worth it?" considering that your practice is one such goal.

All of that said, the best path is the one that will lead to the arising of the least stress in the long run.
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby m12_shakes » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:33 pm

culaavuso wrote:
m12_shakes wrote:Also, further to the OP question (apologies for the slight hijack), but how does one find the "middle path" when relating to attachment ?

I have to work for a living, so on the grand scheme of things, I am personally attached to my job, as I need a house and money live on.

Now how do I find a balance on buying things that are necessary and "over indulging" on luxuries? I believe you get what you pay for, and I believe "you buy cheap, you buy twice". It's a simple rule I use on just about most things, clothes, cars etc.

For example, I am now in the market to replace my current car (it's the same care I've had for a number of years, and it's now giving me issues), however I'm now in a position to buy something far more reliable, i.e. a decent German saloon (sedan for my US buddies), which arguably would be better a better quality car, and less hassle in the long run. Would that be classed as necessary or over indulging?
Same with clothes, I would much rather purchase a decent tailored suit from a reputable London tailor, which would fit me vastly better and last me far longer than any off-the-peg suit would.
Even later on in life when I have children, I would like to send them to private school and give them all the opportunities to reach their educational potential, is that necessary or a luxury?

Where does one draw the line?


I think the intentions and mental states connected with the requisites of the householder life are an important consideration in how to relate to them. If something is purchased out of greed or aversion, or with the intentions connected with the eight worldly conditions (gain, loss, praise, blame, good reputation, disrepute, pleasure, pain) then perhaps that is an unskillful activity. However, if something is purchased with the aim of sustaining the functions of the body and the household as a whole, then there is less cause for concern.

Monks have a recollection about the proper treatment of their four requisites:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/ariyesako/layguide.html#req4
"Properly considering the robe, I use it: simply to ward off cold, to ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, simply for the purpose of covering the parts of the body that cause shame.

"Properly considering almsfood, I use it: not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on weight, nor for beautification; but simply for the survival and continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the chaste life, (thinking) I will destroy old feelings (of hunger) and not create new feelings (from overeating). Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, and live in comfort.

"Properly considering the lodging, I use it: simply to ward off cold, to ward off heat, to ward off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun and reptiles; simply for protection from the inclemencies of weather and for the enjoyment of seclusion.

"Properly considering medicinal requisites for curing the sick, I use them: simply to ward off any pains of illness that have arisen and for the maximum freedom from disease."


I think these serve as a useful guideline for serious lay practice. The important distinction is that sustaining a household has more requisites than simply sustaining a single human body, and so things like cars, alarm clocks, and computers can effectively be "requisites" from that perspective. Also useful to keep in mind is that the life of a householder is characterized by incomplete renunciation, but the fewer worldly goals we hold the more completely those goals can be achieved, as goals tend to have mutual conflicts in terms of time and money if nothing else. In that sense it can be useful to ask "Do I really need it?" and "What other goals would this compromise? Is it worth it?" considering that your practice is one such goal.

All of that said, the best path is the one that will lead to the arising of the least stress in the long run.


Thank you for this reply.

However I'm still struggling to "find" this balance...

I love playing the violin (only started taking lessons a year ago), astronomy, chess and weight lifting are my other major hobbies, and they all require one to set goals or better themselves to go improve or go further. Would all this be classed as attachment?
Kindest regards,

m12
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Re: Is It Possible to Be a Lay Theravada Buddhist?

Postby culaavuso » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:51 pm

m12_shakes wrote:I love playing the violin (only started taking lessons a year ago), astronomy, chess and weight lifting are my other major hobbies, and they all require one to set goals or better themselves to go improve or go further. Would all this be classed as attachment?


Yes, they are attachment of various forms. Without some degree of clinging and attachment, there wouldn't be birth as a human in the first place. However, without developing the requisite skills, trying to simply avoid the things you enjoy can lead to aversion or ill will. These things also cause stress in various ways which can be difficult to see when not looking for it. Stress is to be known, and the cause of stress (when properly seen) is to be abandoned. The Buddha also found it helpful to teach people who had developed worldly skills by using those skills as reference points. When learning the violin, for example, you don't immediately jump into the most complex and difficult pieces. You work, step by step, at developing the necessary skills and improving your understanding of the art which in turn allows you to further refine your skills. In the long run the practice may lead you to abandon the activities you now hold dear, but that is a natural result of understanding through direct experience the way that they cause you stress and not something that needs to be forced before you're ready. Some people find it helpful to abandon things they enjoy to provide a glimpse of how the mind reacts to being without that thing, to better understand the clinging, but such a practice is a personal choice.

Since you're learning the violin, it seems appropriate to quote the Sona Sutta:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an06/an06.055.than.html
AN6.55: Sona Sutta wrote:"Now what do you think, Sona. Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the vina?"

"Yes, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too taut, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too loose, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned to be right on pitch, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"Yes, lord."

"In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme."


Another quote that might be helful, from Ajaan Dune Atulo:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/dune/giftsheleft.html
Ajaan Dune Atulo wrote:On December 18, 1979, Their Majesties the King and Queen paid a private visit to Luang Pu. After asking about his health and well-being, and engaging in a Dhamma conversation, the King posed a question: "In abandoning the defilements, which ones should be abandoned first?"

Luang Pu responded,

"All the defilements arise together at the mind. Focus right at the mind. Whichever defilement arises first, that's the one to abandon first."
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