EBTs and lay people not being able to keep the precepts to the same level as mendicants


This seems like a really wise approach to the Noble 8 fold path, rather than

In thinking about your post, I couldn’t help but feel that the ‘unwise’ ways of approaching practice are just that - unwise. This exists for both Monastic and Lay practitioners. The great advantage as you say is that the monastic system of training is a whole interwoven regime that works to cultivate wisdom, with guidance by experienced teachers who can intimately witness the individuals practice and help identify any hindrances. Given this, one would expect that monastics will be more skillful and knowledgeable about these processes, and their advice and perspective should be heeded.

My point is, that all humans who choose to practice Buddhism, do so at their own level, and with their own idiosyncratic conditions, kamma and levels of diligence. At any one time, there will be individuals (monastic and lay) who fit into a myriad of categories :slight_smile: So hopefully, todays’ arm-chair aesthetic may be tomorrows wiser person; the person who has high levels of conceit at the moment may begin to see more clearly in the future; The person with wrong view today may come to have right view in time :slight_smile:

This movement from less skilled and having less wisdom, to becoming more developed is something that both monastic and lay people desire and have in common. This inclination and the effort expended is something that is worth encouraging.

For this reason, I suppose, endless discussions of this nature have a benefit, especially when there is a range of input, like this thoughtful post by yourself :smiley: Thank you.

:anjal: :dharmawheel:


Quite possibly. It seems that being a monarch in old-time Asia didn’t necessarily mean getting to sleep in an especially comfy bed.

Recently I paid a visit to the National Museum of Nan, which was formerly the palace of the Nan royal family before the incorporation of this city state into the Kingdom of Lanna. Two of the former Nan kings’ beds were on display, neither of which looks like the natural choice for a committed sybarite.



:clap:t5: :joy: So true.

For those who are interested, here’s the link to that section. Just search for “But having what advantage in mind do you, Visākhā, ask the Truth-finder for eight boons?”


Oh my.

I have learned about Jivaka tossed as a baby in a refuse pile.
I have learned more than I ever want to know about gathering robes from cemeteries.
I have learned about caring for the sick.
I have learned about storing robes.
I have learned that I really should not wear a jacket and now I have no idea what to do in the rain since I have been wearing a jacket.

But then I learned about Visakha and her generosity and understood that I am allowed cloths for the rain and learned much wisdom about observing what monks need.

Thank you for the whole reading.


As I understand it, the most important practice specifically for laypeople is also one that monastics can’t undertake: It’s giving. Buddhist laypeople should practice conscious and abundant generosity with their material goods.

Giving is certainly central for laypeople in the EBTs. So it should be with us: Give to monastics. Give to charities. Give to homeless people on the street. Don’t worry, just give.

Before I began to think of myself as a Buddhist, I had never given anything to homeless people, ever. This was despite always living in a major city and seeing them constantly. Then, one day, I started. Why? Because as a Buddhist, I figured I ought to.

Results? I’m out a few dollars a week. Sometimes I even spring for lunch when someone needs it. And I’ve got this big smile on my face, rather than feeling guilty and uneasy whenever I meet someone who’s had a rough time in life.

If I’d made this calculation back when I was a hedonist, I’d probably also have given. But for some reason I just didn’t. Now, I do.

So I guess you could say I’m curious about renouncing beds and music and whatnot, but I’m enthusiastic about giving. I recommend it strongly to everyone looking to do more.


Well said :clap:t5: I had the same feeling just from spending a couple days at a new monastery helping out. Cleaning, cooking, dropping off at the airport. It’s “mundane,” but it felt so, well, good.


Probably a useful distinction to make online is between those who present as pseudo-monastic renunciants and those who simply have too much time on their hands and so spend a probably unnecessary amount of time on the internet hunting down texts about ancient Indian renunciants because they find it interesting. For example, I would fall into the latter group.

Also important to note is the distinction between presenting what a number of ancient Indian texts have to say on a forum about the EBTs and prescribing that modern Buddhists ought to conform to these ancient texts. Merely presenting the view of ancient texts on a forum about ancient texts is different than telling people nowadays how they ought to live. And even when people ask what ancient texts have to say about how to live, when said texts are presented and come into conflict with what a modern individual might consider practicable, it doesn’t change the fact that that is what the ancient text said. Nor is presenting such a text necessarily a prescription by the poster to follow it, it is simply the presentation of the way some ancient Indian renunciants appear to have lived or aspired to live given that is what the texts that have been preserved say.

I know I’m being off topic but I feel that this “armchair ascetic” idea has popped in a number of threads where I’ve posted portions of ancient Indian Buddhist texts and I thought I’d clear the air that I’m more of a bored Buddhist internet user than some bad@ss lay Buddhist trying to get everyone to live under trees or something. Mad props to those who live such a life though.



Hi @Polarbear, I used the term ‘armchair ascetic’ in the thread about Fundamentalism, which seemed an appropriate place, given the topic, and again used it here, where it also feels appropriate as people are posting about taking on monks rules without actually being a monk… but let me reassure you that it was not in reaction to your post in particular but more generally a response to the very big gap between theory and practice, and how to skillfully navigate it in an authentic way.

When people are furiously quoting EBT texts at each other online, the distinctions you raise above quickly become moot :joy: :joy::joy: but although I very much understand the differences in approach as you’ve articulated them here, a question is; do others? This is something I keep in mind when I post (especially in regards to asceticism) because people here are often looking for guidance in their practice and so we should perhaps feel a sense of responsibility for what and how we post, thinking about how it might be received. Maybe I feel this more, being a monk. I’m concerned about consequences for people’s practice and their overall spiritual well-being.

Looking at your post above, and recollecting the topics of your other posts, I can see why you may have taken my comments personally. It wasn’t intended that way.
:wink: Thanks for clearing the air, though, I hope that I have done the same here. If you want to discuss this further please DM me.

But back to the topic at hand!! :laughing:
Yes, @Viveka, indeed,

The real test of both the precepts (as in this thread) or ascetic practices (in other threads) is not so much adhering to the letter of the rule, or taking on a rule for its own sake, but understanding what what it restrains in us, and what is developed through the practice of the rule. Does our observance lead to an increase in wholesome qualities or do they decrease? Is it an empty, pointless tick-the-box practice, taken on for no good reason; or, is it actually meaningful to us?

Sīlabbata-parāmāsa , mindlessly clinging to rituals, or ceremoniously taking on rules, is one of the fettters, or samyojana that blocks our practice by distorting our understanding of the purpose and benefits of those precepts and practices. It’s like mistaking the path for the destination, or not seeing the woods for the trees! It is an unexamined approach to Dhamma.

One of my favourite examples of this is the Dog Duty Ascetic who has taken on a whole range of quite intense practices with no actual benefit whatsoever:

this naked dog ascetic Seniya does a hard thing: he eats food placed on the ground. For a long time he has undertaken that observance to behave like a dog.

Kukkuravatika Sutta MN 57:

Disclaimer: Not recommended!!! :yum:


Yes dear Banthe. What count is can the circumstances in which we put ourselves in, monastics in monasteries, lay-people in lay life, are leading to progressive elimination of cravings, aversions, delusions (CADs)? This is to me the real measurement of our progress: how many CADs have we already eliminated? how many remain to be eliminated? The precepts are there to support this job but are not an end in themselves.




Thanks for mentioning this as my problem, my emotional reaction to the problem of homelessness tends to overwhelm me. There are so many poor people in my city that my heart is sad for them yet I get confused between generosity and the magnitude of their material despair. Honestly, sometimes I feel like they are homeless because of their choices. And there is truth to this, but are they any less needy because they have made faulty choices?
And often their attitude confuses me because with their persistent panhandling comes a ‘mass marketing’ system that feels like a wall.

Whoops, I went off topic…:face_with_hand_over_mouth:


Back to the topic again.
What exactly the Buddha’s message here about merit making?


Good point. DCM pointed this as well.
So what it means? Does that mean the statement in Op is incorrect?