Is it possible for the Buddhist lay population to adopt monastic lifestyle?

This question is prompted after seen the following post.

Having lived in Australia for 33 years I was taken aback by how little I knew about Indigenous Australians. They are not about popularising or selling their belief system, they are living for the moment together with the nature, almost leaving no foot prints, working for a wage is not an option, all they need is in the nature, so why work for food and shelter. No sense of accumulation is in their system, with 40 thousand years of conditioning they are extremely challenged to adapt to this 200 year old new system. So it is your call to decide if their life values complement Buddhism.

Isn’t it the case that traditionally the lay-Buddhist community provides material support to the monastic community? This relies on the ability of the lay-Buddhist community to generate an “excess”, something they can actually donate. So it’s difficult to see how all Buddhists could adopt a monastic lifestyle in modern cultures. What lay-buddhists can do is strive for simplicity and contentment.


What, to you, is the difference between a lay person becoming a monk and a lay person adopting the monastic lifestyle?

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Yes, but if they follow the practice, they might one day reap the benefits of being on the other side of of the lay-monastic boundary wall. Its the same lay people who become monastics.

It is important to note some of the lay followers in Buddha’s time were highly materialistic.
For instance Visaka was wearing a very expensive neckless worth millions of dollars in todays value.

Sure, but I thought we were talking about everyone adopting a monastic lifestyle. The question is then “How would we pay for it?”
How we would we support ourselves?

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Well, I suppose we will have to pay into a ‘lay monastic support fund’ while we are working or from donations?

Old folks homes for Buddhists? :yum:

Well then you become a monk as well. No need to re-invent the wheel.

My question is whether Buddhist lay people as a whole can adopt a monastic life style. Perhaps say hypotheitcally that they do not have to follow the Vinaya. Perhaps like the Amish life style or old aborigianal life style.

Perhaps like they live like a group but do not own land or work for money. But they will have sexual relationship as adults but obey the rules of the land. Community look after children without ownership. etc.

Then this isn’t a monastic lifestyle - you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Monastics don’t work jobs because their jobs are dhamma-vinaya, coming to understand what the Buddha taught, and the laity supports that. They don’t support monastics because they want to live free from any code of discipline that protects both the monks and those who support them. Nor do they donate for the monastics to continue to engage in sex and lay activites. The life of a monk and the life of a lay person are diametrically opposed.

What you’re referring to reminds me of Thomas Paine’s Agrarian Justice.


From the OP “Is it possible for the lay buddhist population to adopt monastic lifestyle.?”

It is possible for any suitably motivated individual to adopt a monastic lifestyle, but for a whole population??

Basically the monastic lifestyle is following Dhamma and Vinaya.

One does not need to be ordained to follow the Vinaya, and as such any individual may choose to do so. What obstacle can there be? It would be the same as choosing to go forth except without ordination or belonging to any organisation/order.

Whether this is practical or beneficial are other matters, but it is certainly possible :slight_smile:


This is just a hypothetical question to see how far lay people can live close to a monastic life.
There is a mis-understanding amoung Buddhist that they think lay people should live like monastics.

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hmmm …

… and, also: Is it possible for the Buddhist monastic population to adopt a renunciate lifestyle?! ! ! ! !

hmmm …

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