Hi Konin, I am so pleased to hear from you!
I have heard similar questions many times, and I think that it’s perhaps not quite the right question. The reality is that, wherever we are, whether lay or monastic or something in-between, practice is hard, keeping sight of the dharma is hard, and straying from the path is easy.
I don’t think the real reason we pursue a monastic lifestyle is because it’s a better way of practicing. It’s because we love living this way. I love being a monk. I just came back from alms-round on King Street in Newtown, Sydney. It’s a famous street, and as a boy from Perth, I first heard about it in a song by Paul Kelly back in the 80s. Now I walk along it and kind people give me food! So good! Then I come back here to the Buddhist Library, eat my meal, help a plumber fix a hot water system, and chat with you. I like living this way, and I am so happy that I don’t have to worry about clothes and mortgages and all the rest.
Oh, and it’s good for practicing, too! So there’s that. But for me these things are not differentiated; my life is my practice, so if I love my life, I love my practice.
If I was slogging away trying to be a monk, hating every minute of it, maybe it would still be valuable in the long term, but it’s a hard thing to do.
So to me the main thing is always, what can I let go of? What’s causing me, and others, suffering? How an I be wiser, more peaceful, more loving? And if there are things in the suttas to help with that, great!