I have come to see the great divide that exists between the lay life and the monastic life.
Whereas a monastic gives up all worldly goods and possessions, the lay person has many attachments and responsibilities. Things like Family, a house, a car, and a job, would all seem to prevent each of us from fully undertaking the path of the dhamma. And attachment is an emotion that clearly causes human beings to suffer, right. So what to do?
Clearly, all of us are not going to become Monks and Nuns. And the Buddha did in fact teach that a lay person (upasaka/upasika) can attain enlightenment (nibbana). One example lie in this excerpt from the pattakamma sutta, where the Buddha said:
Householder, these four rare things in the world, pleasing and agreeable for worldly pleasure and charm, conduce to the gain of four things. What four?
1. The Attainment of Faith
Here, householder, the noble disciple establishes faith in the enlightenment of the Thus Gone One: – The Blessed One is worthy, rightfully enlightened, is endowed with knowledge and conduct, well gone, is the incomparable tamer of those to be tamed, teacher of gods and men, enlightened and Blessed. Householder, to this is called the attainment of faith.
2. The Attainment of Virtues
Here, householder, the noble disciple abstains from destroying living things, taking the not given, misbehaving in sexual desires, telling lies, taking intoxicant and brewed drinks
3. The Attainment of Generosity
Here, householder, the noble disciple lives in the household having dispelled miserliness and its stains, his mind released through benevolence, is open-handed attached to giving to those in need, he abides making arrangements to give gifts.
4. The Attainment of Wisdom
Householder, the mind of one abiding, overcome by covetousness and greed, hatefulness , sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, doubts, does what should not be done and fails to do what should be done and whatever obtainable pleasantness flees from him.
When the noble disciple knowing that covetousness and greed, hatefulness, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry and doubts are minor defilements of the mind and dispel them it is said that the noble disciple has attained great spread out wisdom which sees the respective field of consciousness. This is the attainment of wisdom.
I see this sutta as being very inspirational and also offers us a clearer understanding of the path we can all walk. We don’t need to shave our heads, wear robes, or go to Sri Lanka and live in a Monastery for years. The path to enlightenment is right here for every single one of us. And even if we do not reach arahant, we can still achieve a greater peace in our lives and bring so much loving kindness and compassion to others.
And is that not truly the Noble path.
I see clearly now there is no walking between two Worlds, only being present in this life and practicing as best we can. And I feel so very blessed to have found this path and have the opportunity to practice. May my thoughts, words and actions be of benefit to all living beings.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.