What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jul 04, 2010 10:55 am

Sanghamitta wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:i think it may be helpful to keep in mind that there are very few suttas in regards to householders in comparison to those aimed at monastics for the simple fact that it was monastics that remembered and kept the discourses. if it had been householders who took the initiative to remember and keep the discourses we'd probably have a different canon all together.

A very good point indeed. What we have is a way of life preserved by ( mostly ) male monastics.
Which must be extremely useful if you are a male who intends to live as a monastic or like one.
For the majority of lay Buddhists who do not it is not necessarily useful to be reminded that we fail the gold standard of the Vinaya. It would be useful to have the positive values of the FIVE precepts held up as OUR gold standard and reinforced when questions are asked about ethics, sexuality, etc.
The kamma for most of us is how to make the best of the teachings for lay people in the situations that they are in. Not in setting comparisons with those who have adopted the life of a Sangha member.


While I find this a reasonable perspective, it doesn't tell the whole story, IMO.

Some of those who have adopted the life of a Sangha member have also been householders, some with children and other responsibilities. Many have become monastics when the importance of renunciation and a complete dedication to practice became apparent to them, sometimes at the urging of a monastic.

So to extol the virtues of monastic life can actually be really helpful.

Of course it is a personal choice and it is unproductive to pass judgment. Some lay people also manage to renounce attachments in profound ways. But in whatever field, in order to succeed, one has to give it 100%. And typically (but not always) in lay life other priorities come first.
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:06 am

In the THERAVADA tradition ( and as far as i am aware this is a Theravada forum ), living the life of a monastic precludes living the life of a householder with children. For a start there would be no children because no sex.
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:09 am

Sanghamitta wrote:In the THERAVADA tradition ( and as far as i am aware this is a Theravada forum ), living the life of a monastic precludes living the life of a householder with children. For a start there would be no children because no sex.

i think he meant before they ordained.
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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: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:35 am

In which case they are lay people not monastics. A quick reading of my post would show that what I was saying is that it is not necessary or helpful to conflate the lives of 5 precept lay people with the lives led by Theravadin monastics.
That our aim as Theravadin lay people should be to take the 5 precepts as our basis for moral action, and on retreat to take the 8 precepts. Not attempt to live as monastics with the full Vinaya..
What goes on in other traditions is as far as I am concerned, for those other traditions.
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby Sanghamitta » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:16 pm

mettafuture wrote:What's wrong with going to school, getting a degree, working hard to earn a stable income, starting a family, enjoying the good, and learning how to tolerate the bad? Is the "worldly life" really that bad? This is the question that's been floating through my head lately.


This was the OP.
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby Hoo » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:25 pm

Let us not forget that without the Laity, there will likely be no Monastics in the mendicant tradition. In time, without support, the monastics will have to tend to all their own needs for food, shelter, robes, medicines, etc. Do they then become a kind of single-lay-persons, or celebate but very busy with wordly concerns, or some other hybrid that is not Theravada? Nothing wrong with that, IMO, but if the monastic community truly needs freedom from samsaric entanglements, the "normal life" folks would seem to be their only option in the USA.

It's just my opinion, but my "normal" life is part of what keeps the ordained going. In the USA, it's really hard to live a mendicant life - just about every town has laws against "begging" - aka alms rounds, etc., so lay support becomes even more important.

I think it pays to remember that the Sangha has extended the Buddha's teaching to us for two and a half thousand years. People with normal lives have fed them and supported them for the same period. (Ok, ok, there's been some kings, too, but kings are notoriously short-lived ;) )

There's nothing wrong with the normal life. It's what you do with it that counts.

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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby bodom » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:33 pm

Monks, householders are very helpful to you, as they provide you with the requisites of robes, almsfood, lodgings, and medicine. And you, monks, are very helpful to householders, as you teach them the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, and admirable in the end, as you expound the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely complete, surpassingly pure. In this way the holy life is lived in mutual dependence, for the purpose of crossing over the flood, for making a right end to suffering and stress. Householders & the homeless in mutual dependence both reach the true Dhamma: the unsurpassed safety from bondage. From householders, the homeless receive requisites: robes, lodgings, protection from inclemencies. While in dependence on those well-gone, home-loving householders have conviction in arahants of noble discernment, absorbed in jhana. Having practiced the Dhamma here — the path leading to good destinations — delighting in the deva world, Iti 107


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby chownah » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:35 pm

mettafuture wrote:
bodom wrote:Nothing, and dont let the naysayers lead you to believe you must renounce these things. The Buddha praised this lifestyle for his lay followers. Please see the Mangala Sutta, Sigolavada Sutta and Vyagghapajja Sutta.

Everyman's Ethics: Four Discourses of the Buddha by Narada Thera
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el014.html

:anjali:

Thank you.

I'll give these suttas a closer look tonight.

:anjali:

If you find nothing wrong with living a "normal" life and find it completely fulfilling then why are you wasting your time reading Suttas?....why not just go out there and live that completely fulfilling life?
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:39 pm

Get out of bed the wrong side today Chownah ?

That is a complete non sequitur. As lay people we don't have to choose one or the other. We can read Suttas and practice meditation and the rest of the Eightfold Path AND do the things posited in the OP.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby zazang » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:21 pm

Nothing wrong but we dont need anyone to tell us a simple truth - Greater the attachment , greater the sorrow. If you are not attached , you can enjoy
a great 'normal' life.

"There is no greater sorrow than seperation
There is no greater joy than freedom"

Also , no matter what I do and however happy I get , I always sense something burning inside. I cannot explain that burning - its just there. Only when
that burning is extinguished , will I be truly happy.

metta
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby bodom » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:50 pm

Sanghamitta wrote:As lay people we don't have to choose one or the other. We can read Suttas and practice meditation and the rest of the Eightfold Path AND do the things posited in the OP.


:goodpost:

Agree 100%.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby adosa » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:33 pm

Actually when people stop obsessing about their own personal suffering so much and start to consider the greater good, oneself and others, it becomes clear that either vehicle has ample opportunity through which to make a positive impact on those around them. Then ironically their own suffering starts to abate. And, yes the Buddha did praise the wise person whether in robes or not.

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"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: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby bodom » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:49 pm

chownah wrote:If you find nothing wrong with living a "normal" life and find it completely fulfilling then why are you wasting your time reading Suttas?....why not just go out there and live that completely fulfilling life?


Im not sure what your point is.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby bodom » Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:01 pm

‘Good, Gotama, wait! Other than bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay disciples of Gotama, who wear white clothes and lead the holy life. Is there a single lay disciple, who wears white clothes, leads the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasures, and doing the work in the dispensation has dispelled doubts. Has become confident of what should and should not be done, and does not need a teacher any more in the dispensation of the Teacher. Vaccha, not one, not one hundred, not two hundred, not three hundred, not four hundred, not five hundred. There are many more lay disciples of mine, wearing white clothes leading the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasures and doing the work in the dispensation have dispelled doubts Have become confident of what should and should not be done and do not need a teacher any more.’ -- MN 73


http://www.dhammaweb.net/Tipitaka/read.php?id=107

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby mettafuture » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:04 am

Thank you all for the great advice and references. You've given me a lot to think over.

Here's my theory: I think renunciation is highlighted so frequently in the suttas because the Buddha saw it as the way to live a completely pure and spiritually "dust free" life. However, he never completely condemns the householder's life. So the level of dust you're willing to deal with or tolerate is up to you.

chownah wrote:If you find nothing wrong with living a "normal" life and find it completely fulfilling then -

I never said I found my life "completely fulfilling."

why are you wasting your time reading Suttas?....

Because I have learned a lot from reading them.
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:28 am

I dont think that The Buddha condemned the householder life at all Mettafuture. Its all about odds and priorities.
If you want to penetrate to the heart of the Buddhadhamma in this life the odds are longer for a householder. But its possible.
And we can certainly become much more compassionate , wise, and peaceful people. For many with the right degree of practice and instruction and support from more experienced people, preferably hands-on, that can happen relatively quickly.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby dhamma follower » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:40 pm

mettafuture wrote:What's wrong with going to school, getting a degree, working hard to earn a stable income, starting a family, enjoying the good, and learning how to tolerate the bad? Is the "worldly life" really that bad? This is the question that's been floating through my head lately.


IMO, we should start from where we are , not from where we think it's good to be. This is part of our conditioning to always look for what is "good" vs "bad". Nothing is inherently good or bad. The various desires in our mind is the sole responsible for the conflict.

If someone still feels drawn to worldly pursues, he can just do it, while applying mindfulness in whatever he does, observe and get understandings. With understanding, detachment naturally grows and life adjustments can be made accordingly. It is an ongoing process. No need to struggle.

The proper question, IMHO, is not whether we should get a degree, or stop working, or shave hair, but is: how to apply the Noble Eigth Fold Path here and now. Any time there's observation and subsequent understanding, the N.E.F.P is set in motion. Let's wisdom do the work, and wacht out for defilements !

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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby Wind » Fri Jul 09, 2010 1:37 am

hi mettafuture

I think a normal life is all wrong for you, so why not give away all your possessions, starting with your ipod to me. :D

On a serious note, nothing wrong with it as long as you continue to do good, avoid doing bad things, and purify your mind. :)
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby bodom » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:42 am

I find it ironic that those who are the most critical of lay practice, who seem to think that progress is only possible if one is a world renouncing monastic, are householder's themselves.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: What's wrong with living a "normal" life?

Postby ground » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:15 am

bodom wrote:I find it ironic that those who are the most critical of lay practice, who seem to think that progress is only possible if one is a world renouncing monastic, are householder's themselves.

:anjali:


This may be interpreted in two ways:
1. positively: a means to remind oneself of the dangers of householder's life, to be mindful of this fact and thus to integrate householder's condition and practice
2. negatively: a sort of resignation, justifying one's lack of progress

Kind regards
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