SuttaCentral

Practising full time as a lay person

Thank you for providing the inspiration to finally join this most excellent and helpful forum. :pray:

I guess my perspective on it is slightly different. Even when I’m in a situation with a difficult person who most likely doesn’t have my best interests at heart, it’s still really only my own mind that’s causing me to suffer.

I think that’s why this little story has resonated so strongly in my life, it’s a reminder that while I don’t have any control over external circumstances, it’s always possible to react to them in a way that doesn’t lead to suffering. In that way, even people who I don’t trust or who are just trying to exert power over me can still be my teachers… because the whole situation is teaching me to better discipline my own mind. :relaxed:

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yes that’s definitely true :pray: I think it’s just that as was noted above it’s not at all easy, unless you are enlightened

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I really appreciate and enjoy Viveka’s comments. I’ll add a few baht to this discussion to mention that for me, the training applies primarily (but not solely) to the groundwork that is being done to cultivate meditation. I took an anagarika ordination in Thailand about 6 years ago, and spent about three years living with and keeping 8 precepts. I saw this as a training period, and have now set aside the 8 precepts and keep the 5 precepts. The quality of the training under 8 precepts affected immediately and directly the quality of the meditation training; for me, that’s the key point. Letting go of entertainments, sexuality , social interactions etc. really allowed for a calm and stable foundation for mindfulness and meditation. It proved to me a correlation, and benefit, with keeping 8 or more precepts and meditation.

I feel that if one can keep a range of 5-8 precepts, the benefit lies in personal peace and ethics, a level of mindfulness, and a higher quality of meditation. With the OP in mind, practicing as a lay person means getting as close as one can to letting go of as many of the social and behavioral entanglements as one can, in order to provide support for the 7th and 8th steps on the path ( and indeed, all of the N8FP).

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I am a retired. And, I still have doubt whether to go or not. To be realistic, even though I am dedicating my left time in a meditation-centre (accomodation and meals ready) but I still need money to buy small personal things such as toothbrush, towel, simple clothes (not to mention if I take Anagarika path), soap, etc. I think it is hard to proceed.

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Best wishes for your journey ahead. It may not be the easiest, but it is the most worthwhile thing one can do. May your aspirations come to pass :pray: :slight_smile:

With much Metta :dharmawheel: :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi Stef,
I left my job in July 2015 and have mainly focused on practicing meditation and the dhamma since then.
My job was pretty intense - probably averaged about 60 hours a week, so leaving it has given me plenty of time to practice.
Since then I spent 17 months at Bodhinyana monastery - 10-1/2 months as an Anagarika. I left to help my family once Covid hit, but plan to go back later this year.
This time has been wonderful for my practice, I’ve made more progress in 6 years than in the previous 20 as a meditator. I could relax more into my practice and give it time and my mind has inclined more to the dhamma and peace as a result.
Of course, I haven’t needed to work because I have sufficient savings to look after both my partner and I - a result of working for about 25 years pretty intensively. But we live a very simple life, 2 meals a day, very little socialising and I have developed a sitting practice of about 5 hours each day. Outside of that I study Buddhist texts, but I also remember to have some fun - I sometimes watch movies, play the guitar, listen to music and I’m there for any friends or family, including my two cats, who want to share some time with me. The cats seem to always get the priority!
I’m going back to the monastery because I feel that I’d like to try the monastic path and give up all worldly obligations and delights; perhaps I can progress further that way. But the life I have now is remarkable to me for it’s happiness, harmony and peace.
Definitely better for me than the forced association of work places and the drive to generate money that was a big part of my life before.

With metta

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I’ve had the great pleasure to meet this redoutable lady during the last 24 hours. She is friendly and works tirelessly, begging visitors to “go and take some rest.” Her commitment shines.

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Excellent and down to earth sharing :pray: and wholly in sync with every day worldly duties. This is the season of Gimhāna and a perfect time for cultivation of Dhamma, discard unwholesome habits & take on wholesome ones ahead of Asalha Day. May all of us continue to transform ourselves and develop harmony in living with others whether as a disciple, lay person or monastic.

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This is such an inspiring thread, I feel deeply touched by all your contributions. Thank you @Viveka for sharing your personal story. As a lay practitioner with the intention to devote my life to the dhamma and a long way to go, I have bookmarked this thread and expect to return to it often. :pray: :pray: :pray:

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What a great thread!

I’m too young to fully retire so am currently in the process of ending my high intensity career to retrain in something that would help others in as little as 20 hours of work per week. I am also married so both have an obligation to keep the household up as well as the financial support of another human being. I have been on and off 8 precepts, dinner being the hardest one in lay life. My intention is to meditate at least twice per day, read the Suttas daily, and spend a lot of the rest of my time in service or physical labor when not doing paid work. This feels like a balance not far off of monastic life.

I also have a Bhikkhuni sangha nearby I spend time with and receive excellent teaching from and I think without that this way would be much harder and slower.

Like Viveka I’ve found this a gradual and self perpetuating process. Giving up killing, intoxicants, excess posessions, entertainment, beautification… Have all come in big steps as well as more subtle refinements. And with each act of renunciation and the deeper and deeper meditations more faith and energy develops so I find I just naturally keep spending more of my energy in Truth and less in the trappings of samsara.

Gratitude for the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. May we all awaken :pray::pray::pray:

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We are all trying in our own way. That is the beauty of this forum; getting to connect with others who are just trying their best!

:pray::pray:

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I’ve been wanting to contribute to this thread since it started, and now I finally have time, I see that Viveka and Owl, backed up by

have probably said it all.

I’d suggest that a lay practitioner wanting to commit to full-time practice first needs to get clear about

  • their housing needs and the easiest way to have them met
  • their current financial needs, whether these can be can be reduced, and how they can be met
  • whether moving to another place would significantly improve housing/financia issues
  • their physical fitness and general health
  • their family and other commitments

Some people feel drawn to jumping straight into 100% practice (sadhu) but it’s OK to move slowly, for eg

  • does one still watch TV (play video games etc etc)? Try a months fast and watch one’s reactions. (I passed on my TV when I realised I’d not switched it on for well ver a year.)
  • are there areas where one is still feels drawn to give service which would detract from practice? These aren’t hindrances if undertaken with metta and mindfulness. (This is something I work with when visiting my grandchildren.)
  • how can one adjust the routine of formal practice to suit one’s circumstances? In a monastery there’s a program to adapt to, in lay life practice is often what gets adapted; this can be skilful or unskilful. (When I was the mother of teenagers with stressful job that demanded long hours I had a rigid cushion practice of an hour each morning and evening. Now that I am retired and assailed by various ailments the pattern of formal practice is much more varied.)

Personally, I have the opportunity to move between periods (ie weeks or months) of rural isolation and living alone in a city flat with various community and family contacts. I like both, but find the changeover periods challenging. A lot of trail and error is helping me work this out, and I got some helpful ideas from A Householder’s Vinaya by Allan Cooper (the full retreat ideas relate to Mahasi style meditation retreats).

Gratitude for the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. May we all awaken :pray::pray::pray:

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This is a wonderful blog of a lay practitioner I am privileged to support in her practice in the UK. Her research and writing on Early Buddhism and lay practice is wonderful and I would love for more people to read it - you may find some of these interesting and helpful for your lay practice also
https://kalyanamitta.blog/ https://kalyanamitta.blog/

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Welcome to D&D eddiepuss!

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@eddiepuss… love this blog…thank you
and @Gillian…great link. :pray:

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I’m really impressed by the book a Householder’s Vinaya and would love to hear more discussion about it. Maybe it deserves a topic of it’s own?

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That would be good Tom, care to start one?

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Please do, such a valuable support. :blush:

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I did so in the Watercooler category. Now, hopefully the topic will generate some interest

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Here’s a link to the new thread.

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