Too much or too little discipline and renunciation as a lazy lay person

Hi, I am a lazy person, in part because of my mental illness but I don’t want to use that as an excuse.
I am very serious about becoming a monk if I ever have the good mental health that is necessary and am able too.

I would love to renounce everything at once and go live in a cave or in the forest but I know that is not realistic, but I also don’t want to just do what I want and live without restraint.

I am making progress but it is rather slow, one thing I found out is “try to do things that are a mix of requiring discipline but at the same time I am able to enjoy in a way, instead of things that are about delaying gratification fully and I have to work hard, like learning pali for example” I am currently playing PC games and try to play more complicated games which require more effort and thinking and diligence.

I also make music and practice djing at home, because at least I am learning something and have fun. I am helping my family members with gardening and general chores. and I am reading and listening to dhamma topics and dhamma talks. Is there a guideline I can use to know when I apply too little effort or too much? Currently I feel I apply too little but I don’t want to try too many things so that I will become unhappy or regret it when I am not able to make it.

I also want to become a vegan, after on and off veganism for years now. I am not able to be a vegan while my friends and family don’t understand that choice and I am craving non vegan food after some time. I would also be thankful for the suggestion of hobbies that help build discipline and are good for buddhists and tipps for going vegan. I hope my question fits in the discourse-forum, this is the nicest buddhist online community I know of and that’s why I am asking here. Thanks everyone for answers, maybe this also helps someone in a similar situation that may not wants to openly discuss it.

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Hi Martin, and you have presented some very good and positive questions. One practice that might be helpful is to start slowly to develop a routine of practice, even doing small things each day so that over time these small steps become good habits. Maybe start each day with a brief Metta meditation, so that you have compassion for yourself, and try not to judge your progress ( or lack of progress) too harshly. Try to set a schedule of meditation, study, gardening, mindful eating, rest and perhaps a bit of meditation or listening to a Dhamma talk each evening.

This kind of routine fits in well with what monastics in wats do, as there is in most monasteries a schedule for the practice, work, and rest periods. With compassion for yourself, see how you can be kind each day to others, and how you might renounce in small ways, such as with food or entertainments. See if instead of agitating the mind with games, you can work on ways to quiet the mind so that it is more receptive to meditation or reflection on the Suttas, for example.

I am lazy, too. There are many practices that I wish I was more diligent with, but find myself putting them off to do less important things. But, in a compassionate way, I try to see that even small steps each day contribute to the journey on this path. Just take these practices, as they say, one small step at a time. If you watch a video of a Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni doing walking meditation, you’ll see that the steps are slow. Not a lot of ground is gained each day, but within these mindful steps is a quiet mind and a furthering along the path. https://youtu.be/os1MrErRBuw

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Hello! @UpasakaMichael covered a lot of what I wanted to say, so I’ll just add a few things.

I understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness (my particular flavor is Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Maybe we have bad Kamma seeds ripening, or maybe it’s just nature, who knows. But the fact of the matter is that it’s there, and we have to deal with it, and in keeping with the teachings of the Buddha, we don’t have to allow ourselves to be defined by that. The way I see it, is it’s just one more obstacle to overcome in the path, within the five hindrances. And the way we deal with those, as per the advice of the Buddha, is that we don’t beat ourselves up for it, but we observe, and we learn, and we change our behavior just a little bit each time. We overcome the hindrances by practicing goodwill and compassion (along with the other brahmavihārās), towards ourselves and everybody else in the entire universe. So I would encourage you to not be so harsh on yourself for having those “bad” qualities, like laziness, or having to live with a mental illness; instead, an attitude that has been really helpful to me, is one of curiosity, where I seek to understand where my suffering is coming from, and what I can do to diminish it.

Now, in terms of your aim of becoming a monastic, I can’t really help you there, because that is not an aim that I have. But about the mean time, my experience, and from reading other threads here, is that the lay life is just like ordinary non-Buddhist life, except that we seek to integrate the Buddhist vision into our lives in everything we do, with stuff like observing the precepts, etc. So in short, I would recommend finding whatever hobby or activity that brings you joy, and think about whether it’s wholesome or unwholesome, according to our Buddhist values. No need to beat yourself up, as a lay person, for enjoying lay person things that are wholesome, in my view. The main thing is to do no harm, and do good instead.

Everything else about meditation, etc, was already covered, I think. So just start small, and go from there.

Metta.

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It’s an evaluation of being in tune which can be picked up from other people:

“And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned[1] to be right on pitch, was your vina in tune & playable?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune[2]the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme.”—AN 6.55

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thanks everyone, for your help. :smiley:

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I would say that inspiration is as important as discipline. What are the things that really inspire you in a wholesome way?

I would say don’t underestimate the basics of generosity and virtue :slight_smile:

Personally, the more I learn about the Dhamma the more I focus on the basics. Like, can I cut down on the idle chatter a bit? How can I be a bit more generous?

I downloaded the ShareTheMeal app. I try to make small donations semi-regularly, and to reflect on how lucky I am to not have to worry about food, and wish that others may have enough food as well. Baby steps! :slight_smile:

“Mendicants, if sentient beings only knew, as I do, the fruit of giving and sharing, they would not eat without first giving, and the stain of stinginess would not occupy their minds. They would not eat without sharing even their last mouthful, their last morsel, so long as there was someone to receive it. It is because sentient beings do not know, as I do, the fruit of giving and sharing, that they eat without first giving, and the stain of stinginess occupies their minds.”

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I doesn’t look like anyone has addressed veganism so I thought I’d share some thoughts.

Some helpful techniques that I use to maintain a vegan diet are:

  1. Remind yourself that you are better for it, health wise and it’s also good for the planet.

  2. If a craving to eat non vegan food comes up, it’s important to first of all acknowledge it (the craving) and ‘be with’ the craving until ‘it’ expires.

If you delay your desire to indulge in that craving, you’ll realize that you didn’t really need to fulfill that desire after all becomes it comes, and it goes.

  1. If you have the attitude of some vegans that I’ve come across in the past which is ‘I am vegan, and I say that what you are doing is not ethical and right and therefore you should be vegan as well.’ then I think one is bound to fail.
    I believe it’s because one’s intention is to try and convert people to their way and is a bit ‘fundamentalist’ IMHO.

  2. Don’t ‘cling’ to the vegan label. What I mean by this is, if I’m at home and cooking and making meals for myself, I have full control of what I put in my food so I can be confident it’s vegan.

But if you’re eating out with your family (who may not be vegan?) then you need to be flexible and allow yourself to eat what is on offer and it’s not going to be the end of the world if you’re not ‘vegan’ for a particular meal.

There’s this website which you can have a look at if you need to convince yourself of the benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet.

I hope that helps, if not never mind :pray: :grinning:

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Hi Martin,

For vegan diet advice I’d recommend RD’s (registered dieticians) Ginny Messina and Jack Norris. See here for the vegan version of the food pyramid: The Vegan for Life Food Guide – The Vegan RD

Advice about specific micro-nutrients can also be found on the same site, such as iron and vitamin B12 (which must be supplemented): Vegan Nutrition Primers – The Vegan RD