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  • Arranging Lay Life around the Dhamma

    Venerable Ajahn,

    I am considering the most effective way that I may organise my life around studying and practicing the Dhamma.

    I have a tendency to jump into most things, and quickly burn out. Having recognised this element of my personality, I would like to counter it by developing a 'slow-cooking' approach to my practice and understanding the Dhamma.

    I am starting from scratch, and therefore have carte blanche in how I can arrange my life. I wish to focus on developing a solid and regular meditation practice, studying the Suttas, and engaging with the broader community of practitioners such as through this forum. I feel that this would be a good start.

    One specific question I have is whether you would consider it helpful to work with a schedule. I wish to develop my self-discipline, and thought that this would perhaps be a helpful approach to that end. Do you have specific advice?

    I am approaching this with a view to making the Dhamma the pivotal element in my life, beyond just aspiration, but in real practice. Your thoughts will be much appreciated.

    I bow in anjali,

    Francesco

  • #2
    Dear Francesco,

    I'll start with your question about schedules. I'm a big fan of David Keirsy's book "Please Understand Me II". He has his own theory of personality based on the Myer's Briggs Type Indicator. You can find more about this at keirsy.com. The point that seems relevant here is that some people naturally make and keep schedules, whilst others like to keep their options open, to be ready for new opportunities. Depending on your preference one approach will work better than the other. I will leave it up to you to consider this.

    So, how do we make the dhamma central to the way we lead our life?

    I think the most important thing is to have good friend who support you in keeping the precepts and allowing you to have time for meditation. If you can't find them in lay life, maybe the Dhammaloka online community is the place to find support. I guess it can get a bit lonely if all your dhamma friends are online. If you can find a meditation group or temple to meet fellow Buddhists I would certainly recommend that.

    Finding the time for meditation is also key to a well lived lay life. Even if you don't have a schedule, you can make sure there is free time in your day to sit and practice meditation. Of course the great thing about this website is there is always a meditation teacher available to answer your questions. So that's a positive.

    Finally, keep things simple. Much of monastic life is keeping things simple. I will leave it up to you to find ways to do this in lay life. Perhaps if you discover some tips and tricks for reducing the busyness and complications of your life you can pass them on to your friends here on the Dhammaloka forums.

    With metta,

    Bhante J.R.

    Comment


    • #3
      So, how do we make the dhamma central to the way we lead our life?

      I think the most important thing is to have good friend who support you in keeping the precepts and allowing you to have time for meditation. If you can't find them in lay life, maybe the Dhammaloka online community is the place to find support. I guess it can get a bit lonely if all your dhamma friends are online. If you can find a meditation group or temple to meet fellow Buddhists I would certainly recommend that.

      Hi Bikkhu Jhanarato and Francesco,

      I am finding the above quote one of the most diifcult issue I face in my Buddhist practice. It has been very, very isolating for me, as all my friends that I estabilished up to finding Buddhism, do not share my new found path in life. Therefore I have natuarlly distanced myself. Being a Dhamma Practicioner is such a solo journey, that finding new like minded people to share and grow with is near impossible I am finding. I visit Dhammaloka and go out to Bodhinyana Monestary and I love this, but they are not really social functions? There are small Sanghas around certain places, but in my investagations and experience thus far, I have found it a little more confusing than of benefit at this point to join a Sangha that follows another tradition to Theravada. It is hard enough grasping the teachings and understanding the interpreations in one traditions than mixing them up.

      This forum is great, but discussion and friendship on a personel bases would even be better............but I must not crave this?? Let go and it will come.

      With Metta
      Eamonn

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      • #4
        Dear Francesco,

        As we are talking about having the time and space to practice, I can recommend a good book, "First Things First" by Stephen Covey. The language is a bit Dilbertesque, but I found it immensely helpful.

        With metta,

        Bhante Jhanarato

        Comment


        • #5
          Dear Venerable Bhikkhu Jhanarato,

          Aloha! First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to teach us lay disciples and for sharing your knowledge and experience. Secondly, please forgive my intrusion as this is the monastic forum but I would like to share something

          @ Eammon - In my honest opinion, I must say although it is very good to have friends who truly support one's practice and path, it must put into account also that the path will always require independence. This independence is very important. Why? Because I believe as practitioners we must not always rely on others alone to arouse our "confidence" in the Dhamma. As Ajahn Brahmali has put so well in his talk about "confidence" that each and every one of us must take full responsibility for our spiritual journey. I could be mistaken but there's a verse that says one must travel with one's peers or equal but if you can't find one it's best to travel alone (my memory is hazy as to where I saw that). Ajahn Brahm also said we can use many things such as recollections of past good deeds (caganusati) to help us out in our path to give us the energy. Sometimes we forget about such things but it's not our fault. Keeping the Five precepts for example is a great tool to rouse our energy - just try look at how you act now from before you started observing the precepts seriously and you will see there's a difference. As far as having to go with different types of Sangha, I found a solution for this problem. There is no Forest Tradition here where I live and I attend a Japanese Zen temple. I prefer Theravada teachings personally because it's easier to understand but Ajahn Brahm had said before there is no "schools" in Buddhism. So what I did was to take the three basic teachings of virtue, peace and compassion. Zen and Theravada may have differences in their teachings and practices but they have those basic three in common. As long as I see those then I'm happy and content

          Thank you Bhante for allowing me to share my thoughts. Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammasambudhassa.

          Anjali and metta.

          with aloha and great respect,
          Russell

          Comment


          • #6
            Eammon
            I am in a similar situation . . no one in my day to day circle is interested in meditation or Buddhisim. With job and kids rarely do I get to visit any of the fine sanghas or teachers in my town.

            As James posted above, I am many times going it alone with the internet and dhamma talks as my guides. I agree with james about independence. daily I try being mindful, kind, and bring happiness to others and have equanimity. But I dont talk to anyone about it much because they cant relate.

            Whats funny is how just doing this, It has colored those around me so they are good spiritual companions. For example my kids many times surprise me by practicing kindness and compassion to a level that I really attribute to what I learned from wonderful teachers at Bswa and others. I draw on it when I need to help them so they have learned too. Although it does not always work . . my tween girl sometimes gets upset about hair, clothes, friends etc and if I try A deep spiritual concept she knows where i got it from and says Mother we are NOT in INDIA :-)

            There also is kindness and love in others that are around even though they follow a christian path . . so it is possible to have good kind companions even if they are not practicing Buddhisim.

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            • #7
              For me too, the internet and Dhamma talks are my sources. And books of course. Although I fully agree with James I think it is also a good thing to talk to others about buddhism, just to share ideas or share enthusiasm about the teachings and the path. I sometimes miss that, especially when I see others (christians) sharing with mind-like people. I don't make a problem out of it but I miss it sometimes.

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              • #8
                I live with the same issue in my life. Since almost 7 years here in Melbourne, I just recently found a place to go on Sundays for Meditations, a Dhamma Talk and a shared lunch with a wonderful Sangha.
                In my everyday-life nobody is Buddhist, but everybody has big respect for me being a Buddhist. One of my best spiritual friends is Christian! She focuses very much on compassion and kindness as also taught in Christianity. The only (little ) difference is her strong believe in god. But neither she, nor I have got a problem with that. And as you say, Erin, with compassion and kindness in our hearts, we form our own environment. I too recognized, that slowly, but surely people around me change in a great way because they see, that things work nicely the way I do or/and explain them and life is smoother and happier. More than one of my friends took up meditation, and a dear friend of mine (also non-Buddhist) in Germany just attents a Ajahn Brahm retreat there!!! I feel like a happy Mum!!!
                _()_

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