lay people should still try

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Dhammarakkhito
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lay people should still try

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:34 am

lay people should still try. just because they have fewer rules doesn't mean just follow the five precepts and call it a day*

lay non-returners like citta and ghaṭīkāra kept many more rules which can be found in dn2 https://suttacentral.net/en/dn2
so i think some of us have given in to a dichotomy between effortlessness and beating oneself up for natural mistakes.
i do think however that sitting meditation might be totally unnecessary for laity and possibly counterproductive. because there are so many mundane excesses that concentration is hard to come by. uposatha is recommended by the buddha to be kept all of the time, not some of the time, which entails eight precepts roughly once a week. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

and the reason you should try as a lay person your hardest despite your surroundings is because nibbāna and approaching nibbāna, however incrementally, are happiness. feeding the craving mind is the opposite; i would refer you to several suttas https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn54


"And what is right action? Abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from unchastity. This is called right action."

— SN 45.8 https://suttacentral.net/en/sn45.8


i figure others might rebut to say right action is different for monastics and laity but i did read one sutta somewhere (if it wasn't badly translated or slander) that recommended chastity first and then abstinence from sexual misconduct if chastity couldn't be fulfilled. eating one meal is better in terms of health and energy and if you work a hard job you should just eat more. sleeping in makes you sleepier generally. what we feel we need is often vastly different from our actual needs.

in the process of making this post, i realized suttacentral and accesstoinsight translate SN 45.8 differently in the key area of the third precept. which should we accept?
i posted an asterisk but forgot what it was going to refer to. anyway, effort should be being made continuously because it does pay off, you learn what real happiness is.

‘Again, Vāseṭṭha, if this river Aciravatī were full of water even to the brim, and overflowing. And a man with business on the other side, making for the other side, bound for the other side, should come up, and want to cross over. And if he covering himself up, even to his head, were to lie down, on this bank, to sleep.

‘Now what think you, Vāseṭṭha? Would that man
be able to get over from this bank of the river Aciravatī to the further bank?’

‘Certainly not, Gotama!’

‘And in the same way, Vāseṭṭha, there are these Five Hindrances, in the Discipline of the Arahats, which are called “veils,” and are called “hindrances,” and are called “obstacles,” and are called “entanglements.”’

‘Which are the five?’

‘The hindrance of worldly lusts, ‘The hindrance of ill-will, ‘The hindrance of torpor and sloth of heart a mind, ‘The hindrance of flurry and worry, ‘The hindrance of suspense.

‘These are the Five Hindrances, Vāseṭṭha, which, in the Discipline of the Arahats, are called veils, and are called hindrances, and are called obstacles, and are called entanglements.
https://suttacentral.net/en/dn13
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"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: lay people should still try

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:31 am

i JUST remembered why i put an asterisk there, and it's because keeping the precepts in and of itself is empty. it doesn't get you to nibbāna alone.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to Pañcakanga: "In that case, carpenter, then according to Uggahamana's words a stupid baby boy, lying on its back, is consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. For even the thought 'body' does not occur to a stupid baby boy lying on its back, so from where would it do any evil action with its body, aside from a little kicking? Even the thought 'speech' does not occur to it, so from where would it speak any evil speech, aside from a little crying? Even the thought 'resolve' does not occur to it, so from where would it resolve on any evil resolve, aside from a little bad temper? Even the thought 'livelihood' does not occur to it, so from where would it maintain itself with any evil means of livelihood, aside from its mother's milk? So, according to Uggahamana's words, a stupid baby boy, lying on its back is consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments.

"If an individual is endowed with these four qualities, I do not describe him as consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. Rather, he stands on the same level as a stupid baby boy lying on its back. Which four? There is the case where he does no evil action with his body, speaks no evil speech, resolves on no evil resolve, and maintains himself with no evil means of livelihood. If an individual is endowed with these four qualities, I do not describe him as consummate in what is skillful, foremost in what is skillful, an invincible contemplative attained to the highest attainments. Rather, he stands on the same level as a stupid baby boy lying on its back.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Re: lay people should still try

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:30 am

here's that sutta i was talking about earlier

"A wise man should avoid unchastity as (he would avoid falling into) a pit of glowing charcoal. If unable to lead a celibate life, he should not go to another's wife.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .irel.html :toast:

if we look at the full thing, the eight precepts are almost a requirement for laity. not that they are, but that you really have to fulfill them to get far
"Now I will tell you the layman's duty. Following it a lay-disciple would be virtuous; for it is not possible for one occupied with the household life to realize the complete bhikkhu practice (dhamma).

"He should not kill a living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should he incite another to kill. Do not injure any being, either strong or weak, in the world.

"A disciple should avoid taking anything from anywhere knowing it (to belong to another). He should not steal nor incite another to steal. He should completely avoid theft.

"A wise man should avoid unchastity as (he would avoid falling into) a pit of glowing charcoal. If unable to lead a celibate life, he should not go to another's wife.

"Having entered a royal court or a company of people he should not speak lies. He should not speak lies (himself) nor incite others to do so. He should completely avoid falsehood.

"A layman who has chosen to practice this Dhamma should not indulge in the drinking of intoxicants. He should not drink them nor encourage others to do so; realizing that it leads to madness. Through intoxication foolish people perform evil deeds and cause other heedless people to do likewise. He should avoid intoxication, this occasion for demerit, which stupefies the mind, and is the pleasure of foolish people.

Do not kill a living being;
do not take what is not given;
do not speak a lie;
do not drink intoxicants;
abstain from sexual intercourse;
do not eat food at night, at the wrong time;
do not wear flower-garlands nor use perfumes;
use the ground as a bed or sleep on a mat.

"This is called the eight-factored observance made known by the Awakened One who has reached the end of suffering.
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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Re: lay people should still try

Post by manas » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:49 am

Sometimes when I sit, I kind of intuit that with so many family troubles at present, it's unlikely (but not impossible) that the mind will be getting very calm in that sitting. But, i just treat it as practise, as always. It's all practise. Even if I can only manage good sati-sampajanna for a few breaths in a row before a distracting thought arises, still - these's some benefit there. I think that if as laypeople we just abandon expectations of jhana (I'm not saying it can't happen for us, just that, expectations tend to undermine mental calm for me), and just aim to train the mind, a little every day, in my opinion, is better than a whole lot only once a week. Then, when whatever current issues that hinder concentration have passed - and they will - we will be better situated to attain mental calm, because we kept up the training. I'm finding that as I train the mind, 'it' actually learns, learns what I want it to do. In my experience though, this only happens with daily practice, however modest.

with metta

Garrib
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Re: lay people should still try

Post by Garrib » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:09 am

I am finding it nearly impossible at times to practice in a full house. When I was living alone, at least I could make some modest progress in meditation. It even feels like people (my own family members) are demonically trying to throw me off from my practice. Lay life is for the birds!!

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Re: lay people should still try

Post by dylanj » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:17 am

Garrib wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:09 am
I am finding it nearly impossible at times to practice in a full house. When I was living alone, at least I could make some modest progress in meditation. It even feels like people (my own family members) are demonically trying to throw me off from my practice. Lay life is for the birds!!
Maybe lay practice should not focus on meditation, as the OP (& the suttas) indicate
susukhaṁ vata nibbānaṁ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṁ;
asokaṁ virajaṁ khemaṁ,
yattha dukkhaṁ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all preparations, the relinquishment of all assets, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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Re: lay people should still try

Post by Saengnapha » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:09 am

Garrib wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:09 am
I am finding it nearly impossible at times to practice in a full house. When I was living alone, at least I could make some modest progress in meditation. It even feels like people (my own family members) are demonically trying to throw me off from my practice. Lay life is for the birds!!
Still trying to become something? It's not their fault.

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Re: lay people should still try

Post by Crazy cloud » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:03 am

dylanj wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:17 am
Garrib wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:09 am
I am finding it nearly impossible at times to practice in a full house. When I was living alone, at least I could make some modest progress in meditation. It even feels like people (my own family members) are demonically trying to throw me off from my practice. Lay life is for the birds!!
Maybe lay practice should not focus on meditation, as the OP (& the suttas) indicate
When life is difficult meditation is the best cure!

I dont get it when people say things like; "meditation is for monastics ..."

Does it mean that meditation only should be done when the conditions are "perfect"?
If you didn't care
What happened to me
And I didn't care for you

We would zig-zag our way
Through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain

Wondering which of the
Buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing
- Roger Waters

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oncereturner
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Re: lay people should still try

Post by oncereturner » Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:16 pm

Good thread. :) Laymen are many, monks are few. Our life is hard, but still want to be a better person.
"And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech."

— SN 45.8

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Re: lay people should still try

Post by Saengnapha » Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:41 pm

oncereturner wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:16 pm
Good thread. :) Laymen are many, monks are few. Our life is hard, but still want to be a better person.
We don't need to meditate to be a better person. We need to become conscious of our emotional reactivity and turn these thoughts away from self centred behavior to a more relational and caring point of view. Changing your behavior is very important and central to living a happy life. No need to be a monk to do this.

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Re: lay people should still try

Post by Lucas Oliveira » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:07 pm

of course we should try. many lay people have succeeded and still can.

but...
Now at that time a clansman named Raṭṭhapāla, the son of the leading clan in that same Thullakoṭṭhita, was sitting in the assembly. Then it occurred to him: “As I understand the Dhamma taught by the Blessed One, it is not easy while living in a home to lead the holy life, utterly perfect and pure as a polished shell. Suppose I shave off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness.”

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn82
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Re: lay people should still try

Post by JMGinPDX » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:03 am

Crazy cloud wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:03 am
dylanj wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:17 am
Maybe lay practice should not focus on meditation, as the OP (& the suttas) indicate
When life is difficult meditation is the best cure!

I dont get it when people say things like; "meditation is for monastics ..."

Does it mean that meditation only should be done when the conditions are "perfect"?
I have to agree. I find this "meditation isn't necessary" thing to be less of a novel perspective and more of an excuse to get out of the hard work. I totally agree with opposition to those who are "addicted to the cushion," who seem to think that they must have the right incense and candle and cushion and posture and silence or else the meditation is worthless, but I can't get behind the idea that sitting is unnecessary.

I'm a huge advocate for trying - mostly unsuccessfully - the bring dhammic practices into the vagaries of daily life, but sitting/walking meditation provide the best concentrated environment in which to really dig into the mind and see where the obstacles are, things that aren't so apparent whilst driving or frying up some eggs. Even in Zen, cases of sudden awakening whilst sweeping a walkway and hearing a rock hit a bamboo stalk, or when a candle was blown out, etc. were preceded by years of sitting zazen and digging into the mud pit.

To me the argument "I don't need to sit in meditation" is comparable to someone who doesn't run regularly saying "I'm gonna sign up for that 26.2 marathon and NAIL it!" You're totally ill-equipped to perform a herculean task unless you practiced and practiced and built up the muscle.
Right now, it's like this...

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Re: lay people should still try

Post by Dinsdale » Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:41 am

I suspect that the monk/lay-person dichotomy will become less relevant as Buddhism adapts to western culture.

One example is Triratna ( FWBO ) Order Members, who are somewhere in between.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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bodom
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Re: lay people should still try

Post by bodom » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:49 pm

The Buddha encourages lay people to find time to meditate:
One time Anathapindika went with several hundred lay followers to the Buddha, who spoke to them thus: "To be sure, you householders provide the monastic community with clothing, food, shelter, and medicine, but you should not be satisfied with that. May you also from time to time strive to enter and abide in the joy of (inner meditative) seclusion!"

"At a time when the noble disciple dwells in the joy of (meditative) seclusion, five things do not exist in him: there is no pain and grief connected with the senses; no pleasure and gladness connected with the senses; no pain and grief connected with what is unwholesome; no pleasure and gladness connected with what is unwholesome; no pain and grief connected with what is wholesome."

— AN 5.176
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:namaste:
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 no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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archaic
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Re: lay people should still try

Post by archaic » Sat Jan 20, 2018 1:42 am

Thank you Dhammarakkhito for this wonderful and very important thread.

Any amount of quiet sitting and calming the mind, or reflecting in mindfulness has to be of benefit to the path. How could it be any other way? I can't fathom the logic of saying a layperson shouldn't practice.

I don't understand why there is this dichotomy of interpretation of the Buddha's wonderful advice for the layman's ear vs. the monastic's ear. The monastic is the example the layperson should attempt to emulate. Excusing laypersons from working towards this example is the first step towards them being Buddhists only in name, not in practice.
Garrib wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:09 am
I am finding it nearly impossible at times to practice in a full house. When I was living alone, at least I could make some modest progress in meditation. It even feels like people (my own family members) are demonically trying to throw me off from my practice. Lay life is for the birds!!
The best lessons in life sometimes come from trying circumstances. There will never be a perfect time to meditate, there will always be a mosquito, and itch, a nagging mind-thought, or an aching joint.

Its like upgrading your tires to drive in mud... At first they spin spin spin when you have tires with very little tread in mud. You add some tread and they are a bit better, you add more tread and then eventually you can drive in thick gross mud.

The effort to sustain stillness amidst turmoil is an *extremely* valuable way to increase the tread on your tires.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

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