A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by Spiny Norman »

cappuccino wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:59 pm
binocular wrote: Yes!!! There is justice!
yeah atheists find themselves where they refused to believe
Praise the Lord!
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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by cappuccino »

Dinsdale wrote:
cappuccino wrote:
binocular wrote: Yes!!! There is justice!
yeah atheists find themselves where they refused to believe
Praise the Lord!
I'm thinking of …
Talaputa Sutta wrote:Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb.

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by binocular »

SDC wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 10:01 pm
What do people think of this notion that the things that are "factually" the reason we do not ordain also double as the reason we claim to be unable to progress as laypeople? Seems rather matter of fact, but I hadn't given much thought to it. Family for instance, he says is a legitimate factual reason why one cannot ordain (because those people depend on you), but that it is a "choice" to then also use that responsibility/burden as an excuse for engaging in sensuality and not progressing.

Thoughts?
My other thought is that the idea that in order to make progress in the practice of the Dhamma, one has to make an effort, for real, and for real give up on some things, is just too preposterous for any self-respecting person (lay or otherwise) to accept or practice.

Even when people do abstain from some things, such as alcohol or casual sex, it can turn out that they were abstaining with a grudge, or in the hope that once they become enlightened (or sooner), they can go back to their old sensual ways. Kind of like the drunkard college student who gets sober enough to study for exams, but then when he passes them, has every plan to return to his old drinking ways.

To every normal, self-respecting person sense restraint for the purpose of advancement in a skill, esp. an abstruse and intangible skill as in spirituality, is just demeaning. And one can only take so much of being demeaned.

Then there is the issue of role models and taking risk. When one sees that Buddhist role models don't engage (much) in sense restraint, but are nevertheless, apparently, making progress in the practice, then why should one efface oneself with sense restraint? Why not risk it and try to make progress even without sense restraint? If those role models can do it, why not oneself? One shouldn't be risk averse, right.

And since there is no central authority in Buddhism, nobody who would take upon themselves to be the living source of doctrinal authority to whom all Buddhists are obliged, and since Buddhists love to fight over who's got tha real dharma, then why on earth not make up one's own dhamma and insist that it is the Dhamma, and insist that one is highly advanced, it's just that others have too much dust in their eyes to see that advancement? Only a complete sucker would not consider this as a viable option.

In other words, there is clearly an upside to not practicing sense restraint. To sacrifice that upside, one has to have a very good reason to do so. And taking for granted that one already has such a reason just adds another layer of sense enjoyment.

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

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aloof
adjective
conspicuously uninvolved and uninterested, typically through distaste.

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by Spiny Norman »

cappuccino wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:01 pm
aloof
adjective
conspicuously uninvolved and uninterested, typically through distaste.
Is that a good way to be though?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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cappuccino
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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by cappuccino »

Dinsdale wrote:
cappuccino wrote: aloof
adjective
conspicuously uninvolved and uninterested, typically through distaste.
Is that a good way to be though?
perhaps not
Last edited by cappuccino on Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by Spiny Norman »

binocular wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:34 pm
SDC wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 10:01 pm
What do people think of this notion that the things that are "factually" the reason we do not ordain also double as the reason we claim to be unable to progress as laypeople? Seems rather matter of fact, but I hadn't given much thought to it. Family for instance, he says is a legitimate factual reason why one cannot ordain (because those people depend on you), but that it is a "choice" to then also use that responsibility/burden as an excuse for engaging in sensuality and not progressing.

Thoughts?
My other thought is that the idea that in order to make progress in the practice of the Dhamma, one has to make an effort, for real, and for real give up on some things, is just too preposterous for any self-respecting person (lay or otherwise) to accept or practice.

Even when people do abstain from some things, such as alcohol or casual sex, it can turn out that they were abstaining with a grudge, or in the hope that once they become enlightened (or sooner), they can go back to their old sensual ways. Kind of like the drunkard college student who gets sober enough to study for exams, but then when he passes them, has every plan to return to his old drinking ways.

To every normal, self-respecting person sense restraint for the purpose of advancement in a skill, esp. an abstruse and intangible skill as in spirituality, is just demeaning. And one can only take so much of being demeaned.

Then there is the issue of role models and taking risk. When one sees that Buddhist role models don't engage (much) in sense restraint, but are nevertheless, apparently, making progress in the practice, then why should one efface oneself with sense restraint? Why not risk it and try to make progress even without sense restraint? If those role models can do it, why not oneself? One shouldn't be risk averse, right.

And since there is no central authority in Buddhism, nobody who would take upon themselves to be the living source of doctrinal authority to whom all Buddhists are obliged, and since Buddhists love to fight over who's got tha real dharma, then why on earth not make up one's own dhamma and insist that it is the Dhamma, and insist that one is highly advanced, it's just that others have too much dust in their eyes to see that advancement? Only a complete sucker would not consider this as a viable option.

In other words, there is clearly an upside to not practicing sense restraint. To sacrifice that upside, one has to have a very good reason to do so. And taking for granted that one already has such a reason just adds another layer of sense enjoyment.
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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by Sam Vara »

Dinsdale wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:06 pm
cappuccino wrote:
Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:01 pm
aloof
adjective
conspicuously uninvolved and uninterested, typically through distaste.
Is that a good way to be though?
I've seen viveka translated as "aloof" (can't recall where, at the moment) and if so then it's something the Buddha praised. Obviously, it would need to lose the connotation of detached snottiness!

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by cappuccino »

aloof about this teaching isn't good

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by Zom »

The point in many of the talks directed at laypeople seems to be the theme of debunking that it is possible to live a fully sensual life and also develop steadily. He seems to be saying that the degree to which you resist sensuality, directly corresponds to the fruits of your development.
But it does not. The fruits of development are very different. For some, stop drinking is already a big fruit of development; stop lying is a huge, enormous fruit of development. Fighting with sensuality is needed to achieve jhanic concentration, which is the very end of the path, and, of course, this is why this is not a lay practice, even canonically. Yes, there are exceptions, some lay people achieved it, I mean, jhanas and anagami level, but those were very rare, a tiny minority, and much more rarer now. For the majority such instructions/appeals just won't work, because they've got so much to do apart from that, to do what must be done before that. Buddha knew that perfectly and instructed respectively.

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by rolling_boulder »

I have always found in my practice that it is better not to focus on all-or-nothing binaries.

As I see it, there are practices that the Buddha recommended which are skillful.

Each of these practices that we can do will be for our benefit and for the benefit of all beings.

There is such a thing as taking joy in the fact that you have the opportunity to follow a real Buddha's teaching to the extent that it's possible for you. It's less important to agonize over what you can't do yet.

The Buddha said laypeople should reflect how they can "from time to time" abide in meditation. This doesn't neccesarily mean every day or a certain amount of hours a day or other silly notions. It means meditation is always praiseworthy no matter the amount. It's very good to do! Very rare.

Remember the Buddha didn't say to the laypeople they should just give up their family life and ordain and attain Enlightenment or die, there is actually room for great progress in the lay life and He gave plenty of instruction on how to live a good lay life.

The training is gradual in that there are gradations of good things to do.

So that, if we can practice generosity, that's very good!

If we can practice the five precepts, even better!

If we can reduce our intake of sense pleasures and find somewhere quiet to reflect, that's even better.

If we can learn to meditate, fantastic!

If we keep eight precepts on uposatha days and practice intensively on those days, even better.

If we even decide that the lay life is too much of a burden, and live as a monk instead, that's very very good... Anumodana... To all who can do this.

If a monk keeps their vinaya well, that's very good.

If they keep their vinaya and develop loving kindness, even better!

If they develop perception of impermanence, better yet.

If they attain jhana, very good! Sadhu!

If they become great Dhamma speakers, great! If they don't, that is ok too because people have different proclivities.

If they even attain stream entry or a higher stage yet, fantastic, what more could we expect from them.

But even if they just practice as well as they can, even if they don't attain anything special, that is fantastic too.

Because the Buddha's path is about doing what you can with the conditions you have. And yes, it's important to take responsibility for your own situation and your own dukkha as much as you can.

But it's really important not to spin that into some kind of grim determination.
Not everyone has the conditions to meditate for 5 hours a day or whatever on top of keeping a family and so on.

Actually, it's really important that we understand where we're at. We're not gonna just be able to sprint to Nibbana in between the cracks of lay life, so we have to be more realistic about playing for the long game.

Working at a job, helping with your family, these can all be rich grounds for cultivating the Dhamma. Dhamma isn't all about the highest and most difficult practices. The Thai forest ajahns knew this, which is why they made the monks do basic things, like cleaning kutis, sewing, dying, and sweeping, taking care of sick monks, accepting almsfood, and so on. Dhamma practice isn't all about the tip of your nose. Everything you do in Dhamma is based on a foundation of dana and sila. For stressed out modern laypeople a little bit of nice food, or entertainment is not even a big deal imo. It might even be the skillful thing to do rather than brooding in a corner away from your family somewhere.

Sometimes, where it isn't breaking the precepts, as a lay person you just have to make some sacrifices for the sake of social harmony. Like eating dinner and hearing music and so on. Even participating in politics etc. These are all part of the lay life. I don't recommend to have one foot in both worlds, lay and monastic, it's too unsustainable. Instead live harmoniously with the situation you're in now and use your layperson's form to the maximum benefit. If you want a simpler life, ordain. Or, alternatively, bring about some conditions in your lay life so you can live more distantly.

Many times, someone who indulges a little bit in some worldly fun can actually be a much better and more well rounded person than someone who rejects all that out of some kind of teenage existential disgust. Someone who just practices dana and sila but doesn't really meditate can actually have great faith and unshakeability of mind so that when they do meditate it really means something.

Something I really respect about Asians is thst they really have a sense for how long and difficult the path to Nibbana really is. They understand that this can take many lifetimes, meditator or not, lay or ordained, this one life is not such a big deal... It's important to use it well but a sense of our own limitations.

I think we Westerners like to see sensuality as a moral flaw to be annihilated. And of course that's our conditioning from the critical Christian upbringing. But the Buddha doesn't really see it that way. He saw it as an unfortunate addiction. He saw singing and dancing as crying and shaking with pain. :weep: This is not a judgement that he's putting down, "sensuality is bad and you're bad if you enjoy it." it's just saying it's too bad, it's unfortunate, that beings don't see there's something better out there.

If we're addicts, and we most certainly are, it's not neccesary to be judgemental on ourselves for our addiction. Yes it's good to get over it, but the reality is for most drug addicts that their addiction is a lifelong struggle. Some handle it better than others. And some, to function in society, continue to use in order to stay at a functioning level.

In lay life that's what we are, we're functioning addicts.

Let's be honest. It feels good to be honest about this.

Addicts don't have to go cold turkey to offer something to society or grow as people. I don't think any addict benefits from this critical talk about "it's your responsibility, " as if the addict wasn't deeply aware of that already. Most addicts aren't pleased about the fact, and most of us western lay buddhists aren't pleased to be addicted to sensuality, but here we are.
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by MettaDevPrac »

rolling_boulder wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:08 am
I have always found in my practice that it is better not to focus on all-or-nothing binaries.

As I see it, there are practices that the Buddha recommended which are skillful.

Each of these practices that we can do will be for our benefit and for the benefit of all beings.

There is such a thing as taking joy in the fact that you have the opportunity to follow a real Buddha's teaching to the extent that it's possible for you. It's less important to agonize over what you can't do yet.

The Buddha said laypeople should reflect how they can "from time to time" abide in meditation. This doesn't neccesarily mean every day or a certain amount of hours a day or other silly notions. It means meditation is always praiseworthy no matter the amount. It's very good to do! Very rare.

Remember the Buddha didn't say to the laypeople they should just give up their family life and ordain and attain Enlightenment or die, there is actually room for great progress in the lay life and He gave plenty of instruction on how to live a good lay life.

The training is gradual in that there are gradations of good things to do.

So that, if we can practice generosity, that's very good!

If we can practice the five precepts, even better!

If we can reduce our intake of sense pleasures and find somewhere quiet to reflect, that's even better.

If we can learn to meditate, fantastic!

If we keep eight precepts on uposatha days and practice intensively on those days, even better.

If we even decide that the lay life is too much of a burden, and live as a monk instead, that's very very good... Anumodana... To all who can do this.

If a monk keeps their vinaya well, that's very good.

If they keep their vinaya and develop loving kindness, even better!

If they develop perception of impermanence, better yet.

If they attain jhana, very good! Sadhu!

If they become great Dhamma speakers, great! If they don't, that is ok too because people have different proclivities.

If they even attain stream entry or a higher stage yet, fantastic, what more could we expect from them.

But even if they just practice as well as they can, even if they don't attain anything special, that is fantastic too.

Because the Buddha's path is about doing what you can with the conditions you have. And yes, it's important to take responsibility for your own situation and your own dukkha as much as you can.

But it's really important not to spin that into some kind of grim determination.
Not everyone has the conditions to meditate for 5 hours a day or whatever on top of keeping a family and so on.

Actually, it's really important that we understand where we're at. We're not gonna just be able to sprint to Nibbana in between the cracks of lay life, so we have to be more realistic about playing for the long game.

Working at a job, helping with your family, these can all be rich grounds for cultivating the Dhamma. Dhamma isn't all about the highest and most difficult practices. The Thai forest ajahns knew this, which is why they made the monks do basic things, like cleaning kutis, sewing, dying, and sweeping, taking care of sick monks, accepting almsfood, and so on. Dhamma practice isn't all about the tip of your nose. Everything you do in Dhamma is based on a foundation of dana and sila. For stressed out modern laypeople a little bit of nice food, or entertainment is not even a big deal imo. It might even be the skillful thing to do rather than brooding in a corner away from your family somewhere.

Sometimes, where it isn't breaking the precepts, as a lay person you just have to make some sacrifices for the sake of social harmony. Like eating dinner and hearing music and so on. Even participating in politics etc. These are all part of the lay life. I don't recommend to have one foot in both worlds, lay and monastic, it's too unsustainable. Instead live harmoniously with the situation you're in now and use your layperson's form to the maximum benefit. If you want a simpler life, ordain. Or, alternatively, bring about some conditions in your lay life so you can live more distantly.

Many times, someone who indulges a little bit in some worldly fun can actually be a much better and more well rounded person than someone who rejects all that out of some kind of teenage existential disgust. Someone who just practices dana and sila but doesn't really meditate can actually have great faith and unshakeability of mind so that when they do meditate it really means something.

Something I really respect about Asians is thst they really have a sense for how long and difficult the path to Nibbana really is. They understand that this can take many lifetimes, meditator or not, lay or ordained, this one life is not such a big deal... It's important to use it well but a sense of our own limitations.

I think we Westerners like to see sensuality as a moral flaw to be annihilated. And of course that's our conditioning from the critical Christian upbringing. But the Buddha doesn't really see it that way. He saw it as an unfortunate addiction. He saw singing and dancing as crying and shaking with pain. :weep: This is not a judgement that he's putting down, "sensuality is bad and you're bad if you enjoy it." it's just saying it's too bad, it's unfortunate, that beings don't see there's something better out there.

If we're addicts, and we most certainly are, it's not neccesary to be judgemental on ourselves for our addiction. Yes it's good to get over it, but the reality is for most drug addicts that their addiction is a lifelong struggle. Some handle it better than others. And some, to function in society, continue to use in order to stay at a functioning level.

In lay life that's what we are, we're functioning addicts.

Let's be honest. It feels good to be honest about this.

Addicts don't have to go cold turkey to offer something to society or grow as people. I don't think any addict benefits from this critical talk about "it's your responsibility, " as if the addict wasn't deeply aware of that already. Most addicts aren't pleased about the fact, and most of us western lay buddhists aren't pleased to be addicted to sensuality, but here we are.
:goodpost:
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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by SDC »

rolling_boulder wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:08 am
Something I really respect about Asians is thst they really have a sense for how long and difficult the path to Nibbana really is. They understand that this can take many lifetimes, meditator or not, lay or ordained, this one life is not such a big deal... It's important to use it well but a sense of our own limitations.
This could be your 1000th lifetime where you encountered the Dhamma, and 1000 times before it you could've settled for, "It's not such a big deal." How do you know either way? You don't. So what's your best bet?
rolling_boulder wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:08 am
I think we Westerners like to see sensuality as a moral flaw to be annihilated. And of course that's our conditioning from the critical Christian upbringing.
Agreed. Westerners tend to take it too far without developing a good sense of why they are making such an extreme effort. I think that is why you see many lifelong Buddhists become very bitter and worn out.

I think the best way is somewhere in between the isolating humility we find in the east and the thinly veiled, heavy neurosis of the west.

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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by rolling_boulder »

SDC wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:22 pm

This could be your 1000th lifetime where you encountered the Dhamma, and 1000 times before it you could've settled for, "It's not such a big deal." How do you know either way? You don't. So what's your best bet?
Yeah you're right, I should have phrased it differently. But it is something hard to phrase that has come to me over the years. It's as you say. We don't want either
Eastern complacency or Western compulsive rat race energy.

How about this.

We want effort that is consistent and intelligent and patient and appreciative, attentive to the possibilities of the moment, not overshooting, not selling ourselves short, vigorous and powerful as well, not grim or morose, but balanced, seeing danger where there is danger and seeking skillful resting places too, the right pace at the right time, discerning, wise, and beautiful, harmonious with the larger community, and grounded in the Teachings.

If we can just do that, just this, unconcerned about results, we will surely attain Nibbana, no matter how long it takes - 10 days, 10 lifetimes or 10,000 lifetimes, it will not matter, because we will be doing the most worthwhile thing human beings can do.


Sounds ok?
:tongue:
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

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cappuccino
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Re: A short talk for laypeople by Ajahn Nyanamoli

Post by cappuccino »

Buddha wrote:Not apart from awakening and austerity,
Not apart from sense restraint,
Not apart from relinquishing all,
Do I see any safety for living beings.
:shrug:

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