Lay Yogi?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Lazy_eye
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Lay Yogi?

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:57 pm

Hi DW-ies,

I'm wondering if you could help clear up a question that arose in some discussions I had with a friend on another forum. I've brought this topic up before, but one can never have enough clarity...

My friend insists that it is useless to embark on any kind of yogic practice until or unless one has permanently renounced worldly life. His argument is that you can't make any progress in insight until you have mastered the jhanas, and you can't master the jhanas while you have any sense desires, so you have to sever all worldly attachments before you can even think of making progress in meditation.

My understanding, drawn from some threads we've had here, is that one can make progress via retreats or even, in some cases, by finding some time/space for meditative seclusion amid the hustle of daily life. The jhanas serve to temporarily dispel the hindrances and establish stability/serenity so one can proceed. Also, it's not necessarily true that one has to master samatha before you can begin vipassana -- it's not so linear. There are lay-oriented groups such as IMS which are serious about meditation but whose members (as well as some of the teachers) live as householders. There's also the "mass meditation" phenomenon in Burma, plus we have the Buddha's own teachings about the possibilities for laypersons.

I'm not out to prove my friend wrong (he won't budge in any case!) but am just seeking to work out my own understanding and make some decisions about my practice. I think it's quite possible that Western Buddhism emphasizes the "yogic" aspect too much, and doesn't pay enough attention to the cultivation of Right view and sila. On the other hand, if all the householder should do is concentrate on being a virtuous person, one might as well be a Christian or Muslim (i.e. adhere to the mainstream religion of one's community), since all the major religions teach basic morality, how to get to heaven, etc.

If you have some sutta references to bring to bear on this question, I'd be especially grateful. Are differences between the Burmese and Thai Forest traditions relevant here? For a lay practitioner, is one more "open" than the other in terms of the possibilities for progress?

I may also post this at another forum, just to get the "pan-Buddhist" perspective.

:namaste:

Thanks,
LE

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tiltbillings
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:11 pm


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Mr. G
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby Mr. G » Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:48 pm

Dipa Ma was a householder...and it's said she went far as a householder. :namaste:
Even if my body should be burnt to death
In the fires of hell,
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice
- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Prasadachitta
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:03 pm

Hi Lazy Eye,

My opinion is what Tilt said. However, It might be the case for your freind that only strict monastic practice will be effective enough for him to realize insight in this life. My primary reason for saying this essentially lies in the fact that you say he believes it.

Take Care

Gabe
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

unspoken
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby unspoken » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:18 pm


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tiltbillings
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:16 pm


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ground
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby ground » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:22 pm


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tiltbillings
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:33 pm


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bodom
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby bodom » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:34 pm

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

rowyourboat
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby rowyourboat » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:45 pm

There is one sutta where the Buddha mentions the foremost lay female disciple in jhanas...

The point is that this idea that lay people cannot attain jhanas is wrong. I know many people who have done it- deep as version of the jhanas you want. It takes 2-3 hours of daily practice though.

At the same time I dont know anyone who did well in their vipassana (by this I mean completing one cycle of it) without jhana (but there maybe those out there). Maybe there are qualities in those practitioner which allow for both samatha and vipassana to flourish (saddha, viriya, sati, and potential samadhi, potential panna)

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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bodom
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby bodom » Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:50 pm

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

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ground
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby ground » Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:35 pm

Interesting. Thank you for your comments and links!

Kind regards

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Lazy_eye
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:04 am

Ok, thanks to all who replied, I appreciate it.

Do you think there are different points of view among Theravada traditions, e.g. Burmese or Thai Forest? My understanding is that Burmese does not place as much emphasis on the jhanas (?)

Also, for any "pan-Buddhists" out there, would Mahayana and Vajrayana answer the OP differently?

I'm basically trying to get a sense of what's realistic in terms of practice goals. My intention is to practice whatever is appropriate for a "lay disciple, who wears white clothes, leads the holy life, while partaking sensual pleasures". Well, okay, maybe not the white clothes...

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Dan74
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 12:52 am

I hope the venerable will weigh in and correct/ supplement what I am about to say, but FWIW I recall quite a few texts which call for abandonment of desire in Mahayana.

In Tien-Tai there is a classic meditation manual which states that without it, higher Jhanas (as understood in Tien-Tain, I guess) are impossible.

In Complete Enlightenment Sutra, it says that without leaving behind sensual desire, any attainment would be in the service of Mara.

Various Chan/Zen masters have spoken about freedom from the sense objects.

So in that sense at least, renunciation is essential in due course. Of course much can be done before then too, so I find your friend's absolutist statement pretty absurd.

Like I said elsewhere, we start exactly where we are, whether we like it or not, and this means some steps are appropriate now and others later. In Korea where monastic tradition is still strong, there are many serious lay couples who practice together and are very committed. Some may eventually ordain, some not. But I guess the important thing is to practice hard in whatever situation one is in, then the next correct step will be naturally illuminated.
_/|\_

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ground
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby ground » Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:54 am


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Lazy_eye
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Sep 23, 2010 4:20 am


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Dan74
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:25 am

Hi Lazy_Eye!

Thanks for linking to the venerable's post. It sums things up quite neatly. Although some aspects may be debatable. Cuffs can seem to fall off in certain situations and environments and when those change, they may snap back on before one can notice!

I guess in every situation there are some opportunities to practice and in the end it becomes a question of priorities. Sure it is easy to dream of ordaining and leading a holy life but is this what we really want?

To me, at least, motivation seems to be key.
_/|\_

Sanghamitta
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:36 am

Last edited by Sanghamitta on Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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tiltbillings
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Re: Lay Yogi?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:40 am



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