How can a layperson progress in dhamma?


I’m in a similar situation but closer to the other end of this life. I’m 58, married 22 years, have 2 businesses and am looking squarely at how to handle the rest of my life.

I’ve been practicing the dhamma seriously for 8 years. I work at home alone, so I carry my morning studies and meditation practice into my entire day. I pretty much stick to the suttas and the core teachings and I couldn’t really care less about head knowledge; the dhamma is beautiful when its known and lived. The dhamma has very gradually penetrated and saturated my mind in every moment, even in my sleep. Looking back in my practice I can see times on the path where I thought I really understood the big picture yet in hindsight they were important steps but not enough.

I’ve noticed lately that living is different than it’s ever been. I don’t really have to try and be ethical in my mind, my speech and my actions, it’s just natural. I seldom react to anything in a way that I later regret. I don’t find it difficult to turn away from sense pleasure, it holds no allure for me but rather leads to a danger and trap that I know I don’t want to be ensnared in again. In fact, sex used to be something that i couldn’t help but want but now is almost an obligation that I do with my body in order to be a husband. I know well the leaning of my mind towards conceit, that inner voice that I know isn’t me.

I’ve come full circle from old beliefs and can see plainly how and why rebirth was so important to the Buddha’s teaching. I have intention to end ignorance, awaken and not be reborn. Not in a grasping way, but more in a patient, resolved joyful way. I honestly think I will awaken, this life, the next? This begs the question: what do I do in this life? How do I handle this life?

I live my life with the intention to have no ill will or cause harm to myself or others in my mind, speech or actions. Rather, I arouse benevolence, goodwill and a wish for well being for myself and others. What about my wife?

My wife is not Buddhist. She doesn’t understand the dhamma nor wants to know about it. I watch her suffer endlessly in samsara, ignorantly plunging in the second arrow over and over. I have deep compassion for her and the way I live as an example is all I can offer, as she isn’t open to me talking about the dhamma or giving unsolicited advice or commentary. That part doesn’t really bother me, as everyone makes their own choices; kamma is kamma. The Buddha taught regardless of whether all, some or anyone listened. My wife and I have lived in pretty good harmony until recently.

Retirement. What do we do with the rest of our lives together. We’ve been planning for it for some time and we’re finding a gulf between us. She wants to travel, eat, drink and be merry. I don’t live like an ascetic, but I would rather move away from that which I know leads away from real joy and head towards nibbana. She is angry and livid and thinks I’m being selfish by changing my mind from what it was 20 years ago. She is upset that she lost her drinking buddy. I can understand her pain. I can understand the dukkha of not getting what one wants. She married a man who wanted what she wants and now he isn’t interested and the rug is being pulled out from underneath her. And it’s pretty late in the game for him to change.

The question is what do I do about it? How far do I go in compromise? How far do I participate in the quest for worldly pleasures in order to have joy? How can I strike a balance between being a householder and awakening? What kind of companion do I have to be? How do I move towards awakening without harming my wife? What advice would the Buddha give me?


I empathize on your situation and will try the best to help you, this is what I might follow sometime in future after kids grow up.

  1. Learnt from Buddha’s series of some 80+ episodes on life of Buddha on Netflix it shows how things were in old days. He said to all those who want to join sangha “since you have taken first step I welcome you to sangha”. All his cousins were ordained on temporary basis per agreement with his father who was also a king and his own son probably 5-7 years old without permission and they remained. His father questioned why he ordained his son for which reply was “Following dhamma only 2 things could go wrong either you don’t start or you don’t follow through to the end”. Similar to this learnt form a documentary on Ajahn Chah, they have in their monasteries, lay people who want to follow the life as dhamma kind of trial on similar basis, you can join these and possibly several others over the world

  2. If in above way the rules have changed a lot and it becomes harder to join you can visit vipasana Center’s created by S.N. Goenka all over the world, they are meant to be for lay people mainly as he himself was, and these Center’s exists in some of prisons in India as well Doing Time, Doing Vipassana (Streaming Video) Vipassana. The Center’s offer 10+ days of full residential program with even month or year long programs. You can join and learn and then be a facilitator to help others here, follow Vipassana Meditation to register and find a Center near where you live and join programs all programs are free of charge and Center’s work on pure donation basis

  1. As much as necessary to reduce worldly pain and make life worthwhile, but also to see through their deceptive nature, and to reduce the craving of ‘is the grass greener on the other side’. These are wholesome intentions, in my book. But of course, your cravings will overcome you, regardless. Seek to learn the dhamma from experiences of enjoyment. And if you can’t at least you know it’s considered less of an immediate problem compared to aversion.

  2. Try to not get them to clash with each other. One gradually leads to the other. The requirements for living life (food, shelter, clothing…) is found in the householder’s life. Use that life to develop oneself in the Dhamma practices. These experiences are good to develop your practice. You might be attached to those householder objects.

  3. Don’t try to be any kind of predetermined companion. Just be yourself and let the practice deepen within you. I hope this is helpful! :pray:


Sometimes when I don’t want to do certain things I question myself. I become the most honest best friend to my self and find out the real reason. Usually it’s due to my views about the person I am planning to interact with, (projected) possible situation I will be in, my sense of self etc.,
Sometimes I laugh at myself and do it anyway, other times I honestly tell the people I owe an explanation why I can’t do that and let it go from my mind.

In your case telling your wife how you feel might create more bitter feelings in her. Also it looks like you have already taken that approach. If you can find the closest reason for the lack of motivation for the activities your wife is planning to do with you, (through investigation of the mind) I believe you can find an answer. This is just my view looking at your issue from far. I wish you all the best on this beautiful journey. :pray:t4:


Thanks to everyone who responded to help me and to all those who wished and prayed for. Today I had watched this video on how to deal with difficult people by Ajahn Brahm and it helps a lot

We can close this thread now, may all beings be well and happy.

closed #26