The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

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kendali
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The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by kendali » Thu May 12, 2016 4:53 pm

Greetings,

It is my understanding from observation that Theravāda is largely monastic. What, then, is the traditional role lay people play?

Thanks,
Dan
Buddhaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.
Dhammaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.
Saṇghaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.


Not to do evil, to cultivate merit, to purify one's mind - this is the Teaching of the Buddhas. (Dhp 183)

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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by DNS » Thu May 12, 2016 5:18 pm

A lay man or woman should practice with the same goals in mind as that of a monastic. It might just be a longer path, but the final goal is not limited to monastics.

See: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=25186" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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kendali
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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by kendali » Thu May 12, 2016 5:56 pm

I must have misunderstood the 5 Precepts in Theravāda. Within monastic context, I thought the 3rd precept meant abstinence (I'm married) and the 5th precept meant intoxicants including medication (I take an anti-seizure med that binds to gamma aminobutyric acid much like alcohol does, although I do not get "drunk", just symptom free). But here I read that,
3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

[...]

5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
Whereas I now understand that "sexual misconduct" does not exclude intercourse within marriage (heterosexual and homosexual?) and those drinks and drugs which "lead to carelessness" do not apply to my medical situation. Is that a correct understanding?
Buddhaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.
Dhammaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.
Saṇghaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.


Not to do evil, to cultivate merit, to purify one's mind - this is the Teaching of the Buddhas. (Dhp 183)

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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Mkoll » Thu May 12, 2016 6:16 pm

kendali wrote:Greetings,

It is my understanding from observation that Theravāda is largely monastic. What, then, is the traditional role lay people play?

Thanks,
Dan
Hi Dan,

In Theravada, monasticism properly followed isn't possible without lay support. Lay people provide material and logistical support for monastics that they otherwise cannot obtain because of the rules they follow. Monastics provide Dhamma teachings and a living example of living a highly virtuous life to laypeople as well as being a field of merit for generosity. It's a virtuous circle.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Bakmoon » Thu May 12, 2016 6:47 pm

kendali wrote:Whereas I now understand that "sexual misconduct" does not exclude intercourse within marriage (heterosexual and homosexual?) and those drinks and drugs which "lead to carelessness" do not apply to my medical situation. Is that a correct understanding?
Sexual misconduct primarily refers to adultery, and also certain types of exploitative sexual behavior such as with minors, with one's employees (well, the texts mention servants, but in application to modern times it would translate to employees), and also it means that you can't have sexual relations with someone if they have taken a vow of celibacy. Sex within marriage is fine.

Don't worry about the fifth precept and medication, it really isn't talking about the same thing. The fifth precept is really about recreational drug use, not medical use.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by dagon » Thu May 12, 2016 7:00 pm

kendali wrote:I must have misunderstood the 5 Precepts in Theravāda. Within monastic context, I thought the 3rd precept meant abstinence (I'm married) and the 5th precept meant intoxicants including medication (I take an anti-seizure med that binds to gamma aminobutyric acid much like alcohol does, although I do not get "drunk", just symptom free). But here I read that,
3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.


[...]

5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
Whereas I now understand that "sexual misconduct" does not exclude intercourse within marriage (heterosexual and homosexual?) and those drinks and drugs which "lead to carelessness" do not apply to my medical situation. Is that a correct understanding?
Hi Dan

The Buddha set up four assemblies Being Male and Female Monastic orders; and male and female lay communities.

The Rules for the Monastic community is the Vinaya (with some variation that apply to female monastics)

For the lay community he recommended the 5 precepts to regulate their daily lives; but as lay people we ask for the precepts. They are not commandments as in the Christian faiths, rather they are the guidelines that protect us for the most unskilful and unwholesome intentional actions.

The best single source (in my opinion) is the Sigalovada Sutta which outlines the duties and conduct of lay people in their lives. This is a link to that sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .ksw0.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

While is the west we tend to blur the lines between the monastic and lay rules there are separate rules. When you read the Sigalovada Sutta you will see how the Buddha believed the lay communities should regulate there own lives and provides answer to the reasons for such regulation.

Even in the Vinaya (monastic rules) there are provisions that make medical allowances. In Buddhism one of the major teachings is the development of mindfulness. The Translation that you have talks about carelessness - other translations use the wording mindlessness. If the intention that you have in taking medication is for the therapeutic effect you are taking medications. With your medical condition not taking the prescribed medication will result in mindlessness and possibly case long term brain damage or death. Both of these eventualities waste the precious opportunity that this life offers you to seek the escape from suffering that the Buddha taught.

So yes (in my view) you may have sex with your wife and take the medications that have been prescribed for you by your doctor without breaking your precepts.

metta
dagon

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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Mkoll » Thu May 12, 2016 7:12 pm

kendali wrote:Whereas I now understand that "sexual misconduct" does not exclude intercourse within marriage (heterosexual and homosexual?) and those drinks and drugs which "lead to carelessness" do not apply to my medical situation. Is that a correct understanding?
Correct.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by kendali » Thu May 12, 2016 9:06 pm

Thanks, all! :smile:
Buddhaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.
Dhammaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.
Saṇghaṁ saraṇaṁ gacchāmi.


Not to do evil, to cultivate merit, to purify one's mind - this is the Teaching of the Buddhas. (Dhp 183)

Digity
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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Digity » Sat May 14, 2016 4:59 am

Lay people can attain stream entry. Once you've attain stream entry you're guaranteed to attain enlightenment within seven lifetimes. So, don't look down on lay practice.

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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Mkoll » Sat May 14, 2016 5:24 am

Digity wrote:Lay people can attain stream entry.
Or even non-returning if you're really good (AN 7.53).
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Alex123 » Sat May 14, 2016 6:56 pm

Mkoll wrote:
Digity wrote:Lay people can attain stream entry.
Or even non-returning if you're really good (AN 7.53).
Or Arhatship at the moment of death.

If he should say, 'My mind is raised above the Brahma worlds and is brought to the cessation of self-identity,' then, I tell you, Mahanama, there is no difference — in terms of release — between the release of that lay follower whose mind is released and the release of a monk whose mind is released."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat May 14, 2016 7:23 pm

kendali wrote:Whereas I now understand that "sexual misconduct" does not exclude intercourse within marriage (heterosexual and homosexual?) and those drinks and drugs which "lead to carelessness" do not apply to my medical situation. Is that a correct understanding?
It's probably stating the obvious, but sexual misconduct is possible within marriage too. Using force, threats of violence, or coercion also amounts to sexual misconduct.

In the UK, marital rape is a criminal offence, but it is not in all countries.

Domestic Violence if sexual activity is refused, is also sexual misconduct.
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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Cittasanto » Sat May 14, 2016 11:09 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: Domestic Violence if sexual activity is refused, is also sexual misconduct.
How do you get that Bhante?

Kind Regards
Cittasanto
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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun May 15, 2016 5:00 am

Cittasanto wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: Domestic Violence if sexual activity is refused, is also sexual misconduct.
How do you get that Bhante?

Kind Regards
Cittasanto
<off-topic>If you mean: “How do you get domestic violence?” I think it's the result of past sexual misconduct to get an unsuitable spouse. However, presumably you mean: “How do you watch the video?” For that, you may have to join the UK.

The video is about an Iranian woman seeking asylum in Sweden, after suffering twenty years of domestic abuse including being raped by her husband. She had to protect her son from violence by offering sexual favours to her husband. She fled after her husband caught her with her boyfriend, and cannot return to Iran, or she will be stoned to death.</off-topic>
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Re: The Role of Lay People in Theravāda

Post by The Thinker » Sun May 15, 2016 7:57 am

kendali wrote:I must have misunderstood the 5 Precepts in Theravāda. Within monastic context, I thought the 3rd precept meant abstinence (I'm married) and the 5th precept meant intoxicants including medication (I take an anti-seizure med that binds to gamma aminobutyric acid much like alcohol does, although I do not get "drunk", just symptom free). But here I read that,
3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

[...]

5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
Whereas I now understand that "sexual misconduct" does not exclude intercourse within marriage (heterosexual and homosexual?) and those drinks and drugs which "lead to carelessness" do not apply to my medical situation. Is that a correct understanding?

The rules were set in a different life(time), I feel pretty sure the buddha would have changed or altered a few, with the advancement of medicine and the expansion of materiality(capitalism), likewise one or two suttas would have possibly been changed for the understanding of the modern ever changing landscape, and for help in their understanding(or misunderstanding)
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