SuttaCentral

Lay practitioners living together


#1

Do you know any communities of lay Theravada practitioners leaving together in UK or other countries? I know about groups from Triratna Buddhist Community or other religious groups but not Theravadins.

My plan/dream is to live in the forest, close to nature in the peaceful and supportive community. I am thinking about cheap, simple but comfortable accommodation (forest cabin?) combining pro-practice environment with lay modern necessities like having a job or having access to internet for example. The community criteria could be five precepts maybe? Being unable to ordain and leave my family I am thinking about a compromise: to allow me to stay with my wife but to be with my Sangha the same time. Being able to travel reasonable time to work and having a monastery nearby would be perfect.

These are just ideas but I wonder if more people are interested in such endeavour? Maybe you know about existing communities?


#2

I find my wife quite adept at squishing delusion. And I make her dinner without partaking. I eat the leftovers for lunch the following day. I also confess that with dinner guests I eat some for social equanimity.


#3

Wow Impressive especially considering that I am embarking today on a healthier, slimmer diet with the aim of observing my craving for emotional food. But cooking your wife food, and not eating?

Sadu Sir. Sadhu indeed. :face_with_raised_eyebrow::smiley::roll_eyes::hot_face:


#4

Minimalist living is hard yakka even for a monk now days.
Perhaps what we should have is a minimalist attitude.


#5

I think there is a lay community at Amaravati monastery - and probably at other UK Thai Forest monasteries? I don’t know of any other Theravada lay communities in the UK, though it might be worth checking with Thai Forest and Samatha Trust. Apart from that, living near to a monastery sounds like a good option if you can manage it.
I lived in various UK Triratna communities in the 1980s, which was an interesting experience - though living with other people can be very challenging at times!


#6

Minimalism sounds to me like asceticism. I would use the word simplifying my life. What do you mean by minimalist attitude?

I feel deep connection and love with the forest/Nature and this is my main reason:

The second is condusiveness for practice
Buddha-Weekly-Walking-Meditation-Buddhist-Monk-in-Forest-Buddhism

The third reason is this:

“If a monk who lives in a forest at a secluded, quiet place remote from crowds, he should always reverentially cultivate a mind that is content. If, on the other hand, a monk, living a a forest at a secluded and quiet place, does not reverentially cultivate contentment, he will mainly occupy himself in staying with crowds for the sake of what people talk about because he does not know what a forest-dweller’s practice should be like.
EA20.8)

Reflecting properly, they make use of lodgings: ‘Only for the sake of warding off cold and heat; for warding off the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and reptiles; and to shelter from harsh weather and enjoy retreat.
AN6.58

I know it is directed to monastics but I can see much use of it in the lay practice.

Much metta:)


#7

Thank you Whippet. I know about communities living in monasteries. Definitely it is an option to live nearby in the forest near Chithurst or in Scotland’s forest near Perth for example. Also the idea is not excluded to Theravada tradition and more about connection to Nature and living Brahmaviharas. It is not call to move now also:) Just checking if there are people feeling similar about it:)
Much metta


#8

@Jarek

I can definitely understand your desire and vision.

That said, I determined if I can’t go to the mountain then the mountain will have to come to me.

For wise reflections on life and practice as a lay person I would highly recommend Sayadaw U Tejaniya’s book ‘When Awareness Becomes Natural’.

Living in the midst of a big city offers such a wealth of opportunities to cultivate the traits of the Noble Ones; we just need to take them!


#9

Thank you Leon. But what if I CAN go to mountain?

Thanks, I will check it out.

Yes, everything teaches us. Just some teachers are greener and smell nice:)


#10

Then be sure to pack warm clothing :slight_smile:

If you’re interested in Sayadaw U Tejaniya’s book I’d be happy to send you a copy. No pressure, of course; the offer’s always there.


#11

Thank you Leon. It is very kind of you. I have found it on Audible though, so I will maybe buy it next:)


#12

After my first retreat I had similar thoughts of ordaining. But wife and children later, it wasn’t possible. I probably have a rose tinted view of what such a secluded life might be like, and that keeps me going in lay life until such time I am able to ordain when the kids are older!

I sometimes think this is all just experiences whether lay or ordained and the wish to practice right now is ever in my thoughts. I may not be able to attain deep samadhi but there is a lot to do in the noble eightfold path, which doesn’t have an absolute requirement of solitude!


#13

Are you talking about the people living like Amish?
They have their own problems. Endof the day we all need money to buy food, shelter and clothing. (the minimum) Then we need medicine, trnsport, communication. So we end up beeng with self made poor person.
The only solution I see is to become a monk or be a sensible rich person.
That is a rich man living a Dhammic life.
When Buddha say monks that included lay practioners as well.
https://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=19472&p=272866&hilit=


#14

No, I am not talking about refusing a technology or modern word. I am talking about restraining.

I have found many possible ways to do it in the future:

https://www.diggersanddreamers.org.uk/noticeboards/members-needed

Of course is not everybody’s cup of tea but I am more hippy type:)


#15

I am finding it very difficult to minimize my tech footprint. Even gardening has external demands. But with farming as a basis for communal and sustained experience I would share your hopes for a hippier future.


#16

Farming is not an easy job.
I know this from first hand experience. It is not possible to substitute the monk hood.


#17

Agree.
This is living in poverty.
This is not what Buddha taught.
Even if a monk living under a tree, s/he is not poor.
Average man (lay person) can’t do this unless he has the Dhamma as the support base.


#18

Here we go!
I found a place in Sri Lanka where monks live with lay people including the concepts of a retirement village. Great concept I hope it will work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G-jzaFL3sY


#19

That is exactly why it is important to farm. Here in the western countries, we go to the supermarket and do not know simple things that are true. And because we are blind to the earth, water, air and fire, we cannot understand the suttas because we do not know how plants grow or how a weed should be uprooted. For us gardening is making pretty flowers, not feeding our families.


#20

I wouldn’t go so far as self-sustained but some self-produced food would be nice. I was thinking maybe orchard?

As do I:)

Dear SarathW1
Let’s agree on this: the poverty is a horrible human condition and there is a lot of suffering and despair involved. I experienced it myself for a couple of years (although many people in Africa or somewhere else would disagree to call it poverty). I also lived quite a lavish lifestyle for a few years, having quite much money from my business. One member of my family is very, very rich person but I wouldn’t exchange places with him – so much stress and suffering (even if he doesn’t see it). All of us have their own Middle Way regarding money, which changes with our own life experiences. We are going to meditation retreats not to practice how to be poor but how to restrain senses. And after retreat I am trying to keep up with this practice. Freedom from desire, not freedom of desire. Doesn’t matter how much money you have, it’s more about how much and on what you spend it.
My personal practices:wink: (more or less successful) regarding these areas:

  1. Amazon basket meditation – put product to the basket. Review after a week: is it what I need or just want? Save for later. Review after two more weeks
  2. No gain, no pain - transfer 90% of your money to your wife/husband account and let them decide how to spend it (I like to keep 10% for some spending like retreats, donations, books, maybe even some sweets from time to time)
  3. If it’s yummy, not good for tummy – eat once a day (try), eat healthy food, eat less - is it what I need or just want? (hardcore)
  4. Not today Mara – don’t carry any money, credit cards or smart phones with you
  5. Just floor - not more – sleeping on the floor (good for health although I exchanged the thin mattress for a bit thicker one)
  6. Be merry – no big salary! – I have changed my job. 50% less money and stress, 300% more happiness and free time for family and to relax and practice (3 day weekend!) Tough one year of adjustment but happy after that.

I am quite dispassionate about money; there is so much dukkha and kamma involved in every step: earning, saving, investing and spending… actually only inheriting money and spending compassionately (generosity) feels quite pure. Therefore I appreciate even more the perfect wisdom of Buddha with monastic rule of no handling any money.

Summarizing: poor, rich and middle way are very subjective terms. Would I like to have twice much money? Sure. Ten times? Sure. But in what way? At what cost? How much is enough to fulfil a false sense of security?