dharmacorps wrote: ↑
Tue May 15, 2018 4:58 pm
Another weakness, which I think is particularly common in Western dhamma circles, is to emphasize meditation as the main or only practice for all Buddhists. I have come to see that there are more than a few Buddhists with significant emotional or psychiatric conditions which make it a bad idea for them to meditate. In such cases practicing generosity, chanting, and keeping precepts are the best focus. There are good Buddhists out there who probably shouldn't meditate. It is not a panacea.
It's actually pretty rare for the Buddha or his disciples to prescribe meditation (i.e. satipatthana, anapanasati) to a lay follower. According to Kelly's paper, 71% of the suttas addressed to lay followers outline paths for happiness in this life, a good rebirth, stream-entry, or the goal is unspecified, and only 29% outline a path for nibbana, which depends on rigorous meditation practice to achieve.
We have to think practically. There are ten fetters that bind us to samsara: identity view, doubt, the distorted grasp of rules and vows, sensual desire, ill will, lust for form, lust for the formless, conceit, restlessness, and ignorance. If we try to completely abandon the fourth fetter, sense desire, we'll likely become very awkward members of society, unproductive at work, and bad romantic partners. And I believe that the Buddha—or the universe; however you wish to see it—knew this, and subsequently guided lay followers to paths that only required the elimination or weakening of the first three fetters. People won't see this distinction if they blur the lines between the suttas given to monastics and the laity.
I was reminded the other day of a nice sutta on attaining a higher rebirth that may appeal to those who interpret the heavens and hells as mental states, and take issue with faith/"experiential confidence" being a prerequisite for stream-entry. It's the Saleyyaka Sutta (trans. Bodhi
). In this sutta, the Buddha explains ten meritorious deeds conducive for a higher rebirth.