The Saṅgha’s lay adornments

In AN4.7 why are the lay followers adornments of the saṅgha?

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What adorns the Sangha are

persons who are competent, disciplined, self-confident, learned, experts on the Dhamma, practicing in accordance with the Dhamma

Lay or monastic doesn’t matter in this respect, nor does gender.

my version is because the lay followers of the type described are a testament to successful accomplishment by the Sangha of its Dhamma’s guardian and disseminator mission


Yes, LXNDR, that was the best explanation I could come up with, too. Although do still find it a bit odd.

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one letdown i notice in the suttas, especially the short ones (that’s probably the outcome or reason of their conciseness) is that certain things are only stated or claimed without explanation or with one in the vein of “this is so because so this is”


Dear Aminah,

This is just my understanding.

Lord Buddha said he won’t pass into nibbāna until he has established the four groups (bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, upasakas and upasikas):heart_eyes:. I see it as the Buddha saw that mendicants , in the long run, will not only need material support but spiritual support as well :sunglasses:. Mendicants and supporters balances and complements each others conduct. A generous, virtuous, and wise lay supporter can arouse inspiration and confidence to both lay and mendicants :pray:. In addition, it can also attract non-Buddhists to the Dhamma, enough to give that person confidence and take the refuges also :thumbsup:. Since mendicants are all prior householders, it would be even greater to have wise lay people to go forth :ok_hand:.

Morever, lay supporters can really curb any unruly behavior from the mendicants. The Buddha did not want lay practitioners to be just giver of material things but have them uphold the Dhamma foremost even when it comes to challenging unruly mendicants. In that way, they can help ensure the saṅgha and its members are free from trouble within. Out of the three refuges, the saṅgha is the only refuge that can be tainted by the misbehavior of its members. Now when mendicants are misbehaving, it gives a bad impression. :confounded: Surely it will not arouse confidence :frowning:. It could only displease current lay supporters and will turn away those people who are sympathetic to the Dhamma :disappointed:.

Just my thoughts.

in mettā,

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Dear Russ,

What wonderful thoughts they are, many thanks!

I thoroughly agree with the essence of your message. I would, nevertheless, note that for me personally, I only find it possible to take refuge in my faith in the ariya saṅgha (in keeping with my best understanding at the minute) - the saṅgha at large can be extraordinarily inspiring and extraordinarily disappointing. For all the glorious activity that may go on within the wider saṅgha, I don’t see how it can be taken as a port of true, unshakable safety and my humble impression is that the Buddha didn’t necessarily recommend resting upon (taking refuge in) something so volatile, but rather exclusively on those who have made the breakthrough.

I think the actual drive behind my initial question wasn’t so much regarding the importance of the lay community and the role they play in upholding the Dhamma, but rather the seeming (of course, interpretation dependent) implication that the lay community were actually part of the saṅgha, which by my understanding they expressly are not. It is an intriguing point to me as the word ‘saṅgha’ seems to have become synonymous with ‘community’ or ‘group’ in some quarters, and this is the first instance I’ve come across any kind of justification for a more diffuse understanding of the term, although, as I mentioned above, I think LXNDR’s explanation is more credible.

With mettā.

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