Anagārika question

How about this consideration?

“Mendicants, these four people are found in the world.
What four?
One who practices to benefit neither themselves nor others;
one who practices to benefit others, but not themselves;
one who practices to benefit themselves, but not others; and
one who practices to benefit both themselves and others.

the person who practices to benefit both themselves and others is the foremost, best, chief, highest, and finest of the four.
These are the four people found in the world.”

If you live by yourself as a layperson, and meditation isn’t enough to fill your day, you may find something that is both rewarding for you and helpful for others.

If there is a Dhamma center or a monastery near your place, you would perhaps like to go and help out there, regularly or occasionally. Or find some other Dhamma related activity that suits you and gives you some joy.

If there is no such thing within reach, there are certainly options for some charitable volunteer activity that fits your skills and preferences and supports others who are less privileged. Usually such things are very rewarding to those who do them, that’s at least my experience. Perhaps even more rewarding than reading novels and such.

Gaining joy through doing good and helping others then will in turn support your meditation, probably much more than reading novels.

Another thing is spending time in nature. Read the Theragatha to see how such things inspired the early monks. While I once spent a vassa in Western Australia in Bodhinyana Monastery, I would spend long periods of time in the afternoon going for walks in the forest and taking pictures of all these wonderful wildflowers that were flourishing at the time, and when I came back I usually had some really good energy for meditation. Reading novels would have never been able to give me that.

But why do you want to go on 8 precepts in the first place? While I do know a number of laypeople who live like this for many years and are really happy with this, this is not what was practiced at the Buddha’s day, even by advanced lay practitioners.

Committed lay practitioners would take “the five training rules with celibacy as the fifth”, like Ugga of Vesālī here in AN8.21 (who by the way was a non-returner):

Right there I went for refuge to the Buddha, his teaching, and the Saṅgha. And I undertook the five training rules with celibacy as the fifth.

Only on uposatha days wold they take eight precepts and spend the day in the monastery. I don’t remember having read about any lay person who lived permanently on eight precepts in the suttas.

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Actually the status of an Anagarika is something very modern, and usually the Anagarika is associated to a monastery as an aspirant for ordination. Occasionally it happens that there are Anagarikas outside such a setting; one such example was I for a number of years. But that wasn’t planned that way, rather the original plan didn’t quite work out, and so that’s what I got stuck with, so to speak.

And you normally would need someone to ordain you as an Anagarika; this isn’t a status you just declare yourself to adopt.

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So he added abstaining from all sexual activity?

Interesting. So this is not even encouraged?

Btw I heard you translating an interview by Raimund Höpfe.

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I think it varies from person to person.

If a person has the meditation part well established, it shouldn’t be too hard to abstain from sensual pleasures, and observing more precepts willingly only helps in meditation, like no dinner means more time for meditation.

Or a person who was a monastic and then disrobed for whatever reason, then still chooses to live the lifestyle of an anagārika as they are used to being more restricted.

Or a person who for a long time just wish to become a monk but somehow don’t make a move yet.

Or just not wanting the full rules of vinaya, due to whatever reasons, but wishes to work half of the year and practise full time the other half of the year.

In general, if one can become a monastic, by all means I encourage it. But maybe some characters are too hard to live together in a monastery, maybe being unadmonishable due to pride or something. Then maybe a semi hermit/monastic lifestyle, but officially not a part of the saṅgha would be their only choice.

It has really varied. I started keeping eight precepts more full time when I was still studying at uni. Lay eight precepts is just what happens when you don’t really like the idea of uposatha ending (I had always disliked having to go back home after uposatha!)

@sabbamitta in previous Buddha age Ghatikara was a lay ten preceptor who didn’t even dig the earth, he gets a sutta at MN 81. But his parents were blind so it would have been hard to become a monk.

As per the sutta, Ghatikara maintained himself and them, by making pots to exchange for food. So that was how he spent his time I guess.

Eight precepts isn’t the same as anagarika, it is also not a schedule. So you can do many things on eight precepts…pot making…your job…studying…meditation…sky is the limit?


Uh oh what happened here

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Ah right, thanks for reminding!


A few posts were deleted and moved to a new thread.
Please stick to life as an Anagarika theme. This topic is rife with opportunities for discursive side conversations— if you want to explore those aspects individually, please open new threads.


Why are you interested in being an Angarika / taking on the 8 Precepts if you don’t want to meditate as much as possible and some of the precepts don’t work for you at this point in your practice.

I don’t mean that as a challenge. Just something for you to be curious about.

And I’m not asking for you to answer here - no reason to post unless you want to.

With Metta.

Yea you are right, there lies the core of the matter. Cognitive dissonance?