Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby Craigyboy » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:00 pm

I posted this question on another forum and each person gave me a different answer which only confused me further.

Can a lay person who is commited to a serious practice of meditation reach the same level of meditation as a monk who practices in a monastic setting?

If not what can be achieved through regular meditation practice as a lay person?
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Re: Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:04 pm

Greetings Craigyboy,

I think it has more to do with how the life is lived, rather than the titles and statuses associated with it.

However, generally speaking, an average monk does live in a way which is more conducive to a successful meditation practice than your average layman... but what is average? I'm sure there's a fair bell-curve going on.

Metta,
Retro. :)

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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby Craigyboy » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:08 pm

I was more interested in the way of life rather than the titles given. So can a layperson develop his meditation to that of a monk or will the various bonds of lay life prevent this?
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Re: Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:30 pm

Greetings Craigyboy,

Craigyboy wrote:I was more interested in the way of life rather than the titles given. So can a layperson develop his meditation to that of a monk or will the various bonds of lay life prevent this?


Again, the bell-curve comes into play. For the "average layman" who either works full-time, part-time, or is responsible for domestic duties, this level of engagement with the world is not going to be conducive to mental peace. Monks too have a degree of engagement with the community as well, and engagement with the world is certainly not going to be beneficial to intense meditative practice. But then, you've got those at the 'hermit' end of the lay and monk spectrums, who have the time and peace to devote to their practice.

The Buddha speaks of Right Livelihood in the context of the Noble Eightfold Path. The minimum of which is the avoidance of Wrong Livelihood, but in a positive sense, can represent the extent to which one can renounce the world, and the roots of good and evil. I think it's this Right Livelihood that is the key here.

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


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Re: Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby adamposey » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:43 pm

Perhaps it's also just me, but I suppose I should ask "what's the rush?"

My understanding of the concept of rebirth is that if we dedicate time to serious practice, even without being a monk or a hermit, we may attain a level of achievement sufficient to limit the amount of rebirths we will experience before nibbana. Basically.. perhaps we should focus on living each lifetime in the fullest most righteous way possible and perhaps have a little faith in the path?
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Re: Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby catmoon » Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:30 am

Craigyboy wrote:I posted this question on another forum and each person gave me a different answer which only confused me further.

Can a lay person who is commited to a serious practice of meditation reach the same level of meditation as a monk who practices in a monastic setting?

If not what can be achieved through regular meditation practice as a lay person?



Buddha did pretty well as a layperson. Don't think he hung around monasteries much either.

Some of his followers did alright too if I recall aright.
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Re: Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:46 am

The Buddha "went forth" from lay life at 28 years old. We have a modern concept of lay or monk that was not so clear cut in terms of an institution in ancient India. But it is not accurate to describe the Buddha as a layman after he went forth. A more accurate description would be that he entered a Sannyasin life. Also he s was a Bodhisattva , a Buddha -to-be.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby Paññāsikhara » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:05 am

Craigyboy wrote:I posted this question on another forum and each person gave me a different answer which only confused me further.

Can a lay person who is commited to a serious practice of meditation reach the same level of meditation as a monk who practices in a monastic setting?

If not what can be achieved through regular meditation practice as a lay person?


Yes. It is about the mind, not about social status.
Retro's point about a couple of overlapping bell curves is very good.
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Re: Can a layperson reach the same level of meditation as a monk

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:48 am

Craigyboy wrote:I posted this question on another forum and each person gave me a different answer which only confused me further.


Hi Craigyboy,

Part of the reason for the confusion, I think, is that the term "layperson" is very broad. It can cover anyone from a recluse living in a shack to a family man/woman with kids and a busy household. It could be a single parent working three jobs. It could be someone serving in the army. It could be a volunteer working with a relief agency. It could be someone who is basically living the life of a monk or nun, but without being ordained.

So rather than making a broad-based assertion about what can and cannot be achieved by laypeople, perhaps it would help to look at particular situations. What particular constraints does each situation place on meditation practice? What responsibilities/commitments are involved? What degree of renunciation is feasible? Etc etc.

:namaste:
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