@Kensho, @apeiron, let’s agree on some things here.
The topic of this thread is whether or not a lay individual, id est a householder, could attain to arahantship.
As the thread progressed people more or less split in two possible understandings:
a) yes and nothing in the individual’s livelihood would change and
b) yes but EBTs or early commentaries suggest that with arahantship a shift of livelihood must take place, not for external reasons but for internal consistency of the heart now awakened.
Later on, people brought up whether the fruition of a samma sambuddha, an arahant whose awakening marks the bringing back of the Dhamma-Vinaya to the world, could be attained by a lay person not following a livelihood aligned with the basic elements of a contemplative life.
We explored EBTs once again and found out that at least the account by the latest Samma SamBuddha (Gotama) on how the previous six ancient Samma SamBuddhas lived and taught indicate that it such beings attain to perfection in a context of living and teaching a contemplative livelihood.
Now we are exploring whether there can be lay paccekabuddhas. I am pretty confident that once we explore EBTs we will find that in such texts such beings, similarly to the Samma SamBuddhas, do reach the end of suffering through the same context of contemplative livelihood.
We are not talking here about one necessarily having to wear robes and live in a vihara/monastery in Thailand, Sri Lanka or Myanmar. What we are talking about here is one living a simple and recluse life, free from the bondages of family, sense pleasures and possessions. At least, one manifests and conforms with what the eight or ten precepts frame.
Last but not least, mind that the awakening of pacekkabuddhas seem to be a phenomenon restricted to the period between the disappearance of the Dhamma-Vinaya and the re-emergence of it, through the appearing of a new Samma SamBuddha in the world.
Paccekabuddhas do bring to an end their suffering but lack the skill or ability to formulate a Dhamma-Vinaya around it and lead others to the same end. In MN26 Buddha Gotama tells us how he almost became a paccekabuddha himself!
“It is hard to see this truth, namely, the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, Nibbāna.
If I were to teach the Dhamma, others would not understand me, and that would be wearying and troublesome for me.’
Thereupon there came to me spontaneously these stanzas never heard before:
‘Enough with teaching the Dhamma
That even I found hard to reach;
For it will never be perceived
By those who live in lust and hate.
Those dyed in lust, wrapped in darkness
Will never discern this abstruse Dhamma
Which goes against the worldly stream,
Subtle, deep, and difficult to see.’
Considering thus, my mind inclined to inaction rather than to teaching the Dhamma.”
If memory does not fail me in EBTs paccekabuddhas are consistently depicted to carry on with a livelihood pretty similar to the one of wandering forest contemplatives. They will come to inhabited areas to collect alms and teach basic things on avoiding harm doing good.
Maybe, similar to the case of the ancient Buddhas, paccekabuddhas were an element of the folklore of ancient India. A faded memory spiritual individuals who made an impact to the world or at least impressed the generous alms givers when they would come for their villages to collect alms. There is a paccekabuddha named Tagarasikkhī who is found more than once in the Pali suttas.