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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby Chi » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:24 am

A few questions and thoughts arise in the mind when reading this thread. A few may already have been raised, directly or indirectly, but I'll list what comes to mind.

What is the criteria for an "advanced Buddhist?" Meditative attainments? Meditation experience? Theoretical knowledge?
What makes one believe these lead one to worldly success?
Is spiritual maturity in terms of contentment, humility, gratitude, peacefulness, etc. not considered "success" in OP's mind?
What makes one think an "advanced Buddhist" wants to be more successful?
What makes one think Buddhists are inherently more mindful or better workers than non-Buddhists?

The spiritual path may not be linear for some. Many worldly desires and goals fall away. The thinking, planning mind may become less filled with thoughts of any type of success. Meditation practitioners might actually become less skillful in their work life at certain times. They might work less than more. They might become lazier when performing work-related tasks. They might actually take steps to be less "successful" in the worldly sense so they can focus on solitude and simplicity. Just something to consider.

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Chi
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Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby lyndon taylor » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:36 am

Good post, Chi, you sort of sum up how I see it too.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:13 am

Chi wrote:Meditation practitioners might actually become less skillful in their work life at certain times. They might work less than more. They might become lazier when performing work-related tasks. They might actually take steps to be less "successful" in the worldly sense so they can focus on solitude and simplicity. Just something to consider.


I disagree. The Buddhist lay householder life is not the monastic life. The Buddha advised lay people to have a wholesome living and spoke in praise of that. He did not advocate being lazy either for lay or monastic.

AN 5.41 wrote:"Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones — using the wealth earned through his efforts & enterprise, amassed through the strength of his arm, and piled up through the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained — provides his friends & associates with pleasure & satisfaction, and maintains that pleasure rightly. This is the second benefit that can be obtained from wealth.

"Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones — using the wealth earned through his efforts & enterprise, amassed through the strength of his arm, and piled up through the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained — wards off calamities coming from fire, flood, kings, thieves, or hateful heirs, and keeps himself safe. This is the third benefit that can be obtained from wealth.

"Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones — using the wealth earned through his efforts & enterprise, amassed through the strength of his arm, and piled up through the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained — performs the five oblations: to relatives, guests, the dead, kings, & devas. This is the fourth benefit that can be obtained from wealth.

"Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones — using the wealth earned through his efforts & enterprise, amassed through the strength of his arm, and piled up through the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained — institutes offerings of supreme aim, heavenly, resulting in happiness, leading to heaven, given to brahmans & contemplatives who abstain from intoxication & heedlessness, who endure all things with patience & humility, each taming himself, each restraining himself, each taking himself to Unbinding. This is the fifth benefit that can be obtained from wealth.


DN 31 wrote:"There are, young householder, these six evil consequences in being addicted to idleness:

"He does no work, saying:
(i) that it is extremely cold, (ii) that it is extremely hot, (iii) that it is too late in the evening, (iv) that it is too early in the morning, (v) that he is extremely hungry, (vi) that he is too full.

"Living in this way, he leaves many duties undone, new wealth he does not get, and wealth he has acquired dwindles away."


This is not to say that I feel that lay people must pursue great material success; but rather that a householder life free of idleness and laziness is praised by the Buddha and allows one to take care of responsibilities. As I mentioned in my first post in this thread, there are other factors that could prevent one from being too materially successful, including the economy, one's bosses, and co-workers, which we don't have much control over. However, there is no part of the Buddha's teaching that suggests one should be idle or lazy. Even a monastic who gives up all material possessions is to work diligently toward the goal.

MN 70 wrote:"Though my skin, my nerves and my bones shall waste away and my life blood go dry, I will not leave this seat until I have attained the highest wisdom, called supreme enlightenment, that leads to everlasting happiness."
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Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby Chi » Wed Mar 12, 2014 1:57 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
I disagree. The Buddhist lay householder life is not the monastic life. The Buddha advised lay people to have a wholesome living and spoke in praise of that. He did not advocate being lazy either for lay or monastic.


I understand and respect what the Buddha advised. Laziness is a great obstacle to any endeavor in this life. But I am talking about what actually happens in the practice, from my own limited experience and from watching and listening to other Dhamma practitioners. As different goals, both spiritual and worldly may fade away, transform, or disappear along the path, sometimes the mind has no ambition or motivation to strive for anything. Sometimes the mind is full of motivation and determination to strive for liberation, and sometimes, in the same being, can be full of the same energy to strive for worldly aims. Minds come and go. Sometimes we realize the mind is actually really lazy when it comes to relinquishing desires, although outwardly, we may seem energetic and motivated and highly functional in the worldly sense. It's quite a paradox, really.

There is a wide spectrum of Dhamma practitioners. From what I have seen and heard, there householders firmly set on being a lay practitioner, householders who don't know whether they want to be lay or monastic, householders who know they want to be a monastic but still have worldly obligations, those living in monastic environments without worldly obligations but want to stay lay, those living in monastic environments who don't know whether they want to be lay or monastic, those who are living in monastic environments as lay but are set on being monastics, monastics who don't want to be monastics, monastics who don't know if they should be lay, monastics who are bent on liberation, monastics who just want to relax and live a simple life and have stopped striving for liberation, and monastics who are ambitious in the worldly sense.

Bottom line, I'm just saying there is no reason why lay Buddhists should be successful or should be unsuccessful in the worldly sense. Different people have different karma. Some might be millionaires one day and impoverished the next due to certain causes and conditions. Some might have lots of money but poor health. Some might be beggars with excellent health. Who know?
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Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby binocular » Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:53 am

Chi wrote:I understand and respect what the Buddha advised. Laziness is a great obstacle to any endeavor in this life. But I am talking about what actually happens in the practice, from my own limited experience and from watching and listening to other Dhamma practitioners. As different goals, both spiritual and worldly may fade away, transform, or disappear along the path, sometimes the mind has no ambition or motivation to strive for anything. Sometimes the mind is full of motivation and determination to strive for liberation, and sometimes, in the same being, can be full of the same energy to strive for worldly aims. Minds come and go. Sometimes we realize the mind is actually really lazy when it comes to relinquishing desires, although outwardly, we may seem energetic and motivated and highly functional in the worldly sense. It's quite a paradox, really.

There is a wide spectrum of Dhamma practitioners. From what I have seen and heard, there householders firmly set on being a lay practitioner, householders who don't know whether they want to be lay or monastic, householders who know they want to be a monastic but still have worldly obligations, those living in monastic environments without worldly obligations but want to stay lay, those living in monastic environments who don't know whether they want to be lay or monastic, those who are living in monastic environments as lay but are set on being monastics, monastics who don't want to be monastics, monastics who don't know if they should be lay, monastics who are bent on liberation, monastics who just want to relax and live a simple life and have stopped striving for liberation, and monastics who are ambitious in the worldly sense.


Exactly.

And it doesn't seem like one could choose with one simple act what kind of Buddhist to be and then stick to it.

One cannot say "I am a lay Buddhist practitioner and I intend to stay this way until the day I die. Until then, I will just keep to my practice. I do not think any surprises await me."

One's practice can have effects on one's life, unpredictable effects.


Bottom line, I'm just saying there is no reason why lay Buddhists should be successful or should be unsuccessful in the worldly sense. Different people have different karma.

However, there are many instructions for lay practitioners (a collection here) and I myself have come away from reading those instructions with the impression that practicing the Dhamma as a lay will make one successful in the worldly sense; and that absence of such success is an indication that one has not practiced right.
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Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby lyndon taylor » Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:28 am

The dhamma is a prescription for spiritual success, not worldly success, I don't think you can really have it both ways, some people don't seem to be aware of just how much of a jerk you usually need to be to succeed materially in this world.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby purple planet » Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:44 am

People get promoted -or not- for all kinds of reasons. Surely one's kamma also plays a part.


So you can be a very poor buddhist and be "advanced" but if you are practicing well you should by my understanding be better at whatever worldly things you "want" to do in comparison to yourself without the practice

i open a new thread with a clearer question : does the "practice" help you in worldly tasks? for this spesific subject

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=20203
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
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Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby Kusala » Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:14 pm

purple planet wrote:Shouldn't lay advanced Buddhist practitioners be very successful ?

! i mean the few lay buddhist who are really advanced

cause when you practice you have less greed - you can be more focused ect ...

so they can waste less money for instance to buy stuff to make you "happy" so they should have more money -
they have less greed so they can control better their lust for tasty food so they can eat healthy
they can focus better so they can study new stuff very easily
make good use of time - not waste it on unnecessary habits that can come from stuff like aversion
ect ect ...

there are probably more than a few very good and advanced lay buddhists - who still have a job - i wonder why they dont get super successful ....

like warren buffet or bill gates - or why arnt there many top level athletes who are buddhists - cause i think that practicing the dhamma is improving you in a mundane way is it not ? than why we dont hear more of very - top-top level buddhists







(im trying to figure this to better understand dhamma - i personally might even ordain - so no need to say stuff along the lines of "what does it matter" or "we should not aspire for worldly gains" cause its me trying to understand the logic)


Steve Jobs was more or less a Buddhist...

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Re: Shouldn't lay Buddhists be very successful ?

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Mar 15, 2014 9:13 pm

If Steve Jobs is a good example of a Buddhist, we should be looking elsewhere for enlightenment......
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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