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The Role of a Lay Buddhist

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  • The Role of a Lay Buddhist

    Hello, I hope you are doing well,
    I am new to this, I don't consider myself a Buddhist but I like to practice its teachings. what makes a "good lay Buddhist" person? What do you have to do to be a good Buddhist? And lets say at the end of this life, I live like a good lay Buddhist, how far can I progress through the path- is there a limit to how much one can progress as a lay Buddhist practitioner? and what can I expect after this life ends? If this question was answered before, please feel free to direct me toward it. Thank you for your time. Have a pleasant day!.

  • #2
    Hello Sudhamash,

    A good lay Buddhist is one who practices the eightfold path. To start with one "takes refuge" in the Buddha, his Teachings (Dhamma) and the monks and nuns (Sangha) who preserve and pass on the Teachings. These three together are called the Triple Gem or the Three Refuges. With tentative confidence in the Triple Gem one can adopt the 5 precepts. This is the basic morality of a "Good Lay Buddhist". With good conduct of body, speech and mind, one can then begin the practice of meditation. This in turn will allow the development of wisdom and the fulfillment of the eightfold path (The eight factors can be summed up into morality, meditation and wisdom). As to how far you can progress on the path, of course lay people can develop the path well. As a monastic we have a more conducive environment for Buddhist practice, but many lay people live simple lives that come close to monastic life. I don't think there is really a limit to progress on the path as a lay Buddhist. Progress may be faster as a monk or nun, but essentially the goal is the same. When life ends, if you good kamma ripens you can expect a rebirth either as a human or heavenly being. If you finish the job, then there is no more rebirth!

    Hope this explains things for you.

    J.R.

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    • #3
      thanks for your answer, I appreciate it. Also can you elaborate on lets say i work on my anger and frustration and other issues, but lets say I make some progress but not a whole lot, is there a way I will get another human birth to continue the progress or would it just be that you have to wait for another human birth after eons and eons of "rebirth" in lower realms? I guess what i am asking is , what if you don't finish the job but you try to finish it, you make very little progress, would you still get a human birth again to continue to finish or try to finish again?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sudhamash Seresenehall View Post
        I guess what i am asking is , what if you don't finish the job but you try to finish it, you make very little progress, would you still get a human birth again to continue to finish or try to finish again?
        I think if you manage to practice well, keeping the 5 precepts and meditating you may well get another human birth after this one, or at least a heavenly birth where from you return to the human realm after a long time. The likelihood of birth in the lower realms is quite low for one of good morality.

        J.R.

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        • #5
          I'd like to add a question to this very interesting thread. Even if you return to the human realm, I wonder if you 'remember' how far you were on the Path. What if you are reborn as a person that has other values, let's say a Muslim? How can you continue / finish the Path then? Or am I saying something stupid now?

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          • #6
            Hey Jo,

            Not a silly question at all!

            I think the important thing to remember is that until one attains stream-entry they can never be sure of Enlightenment, either in this life or another. As I understand the teachings, once you are an ariyan you will have that right view in any future life. Even if you are born into a Zoroastrian family you will still keep good sila, may have good samadhi and will always see that things are impermanent, suffering and not-a-self.

            If you are not fortunate enough to become an ariyan in this life, it may be like a man (or woman!) walking on a forest trail. Sometimes we wander off the trail, get a bit lost and eventually wander back to the main trail if we haven't wandered too far. Sometimes we'll meet a guide who will point the way back. In this case you might have to spend a lifetime or two as a Baha'i.

            Hope this helps!

            J.R.

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            • #7
              Thank you venerable, this helps a lot!

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              • #8
                Thank you for replying to my inquiries , I appreciate your time.

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