As a Nichiren Buddhist I fully support lay buddhism, frankly I find it more impressive when people who are married, have jobs, kids, all the distractions etc practice, study and are devoted to the Dharma. My own sensei is a married Japanese priest who is an airline pilot, he teaches because he wants to not because it's an inherited job. I've made donations so he can print and give out sutra books to help people practice. He's done so in Cambodia and India. Great.
Fantastic, and probably very suited to the American lifestyle-but why does this have to be the only way?. But I find it hard to believe that people that it is not at all useful to have people in situations where they can work single pointedly for Buddhism and apply themselves in focused cultivation. Realization takes work and to have some people engaged in that full time (whether monastic or lay), is a very worthwhile pursuit in a society where a person's value is determined by the paycheque they bring in. http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-ha ... -watterson
I actually don't think the Japanese model is a good one to follow or aspire to- Japan, more than any other traditionally Buddhist country, has seen the decline of Buddhist practice and influence, with priests making cocktails, for example:http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... jgEtb1Tj4g
Bozu's owner, Yoshinobu Fujioka, a Buddhist priest who can also mix a decent cocktail for those in search of a quicker path to nirvana, says that Japan's mainstream sects must shed their conservative image to broaden their appeal. "There was a time when people would go to their local temple for advice on all sorts of problems, not just spiritual matters," said Fujioka, 31, who belongs to the Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land) sect. "This bar is just the same, a place where people can come and talk freely about their problems."
Japanese Buddhist monk Yoshinobu Fujioka enjoys bringing his congregation together, one cocktail at a time.
Fujioka owns the 23-seat “Vowz Bar” in central Tokyo, where Buddhist chants replace karaoke songs and the shaven-headed bartenders serve up sermons and homilies along with the drinks.
Vowz Bar has been going strong for 13 years and the cocktail list includes the vodka and cognac-based “Perfect Bliss” as well as “Infinite Hell” – a vodka, raspberry liqueur and cranberry juice concoction with a splash of tonic water.
The special is called “Enslavery to Love and Lust” and costs around 800 yen (5.59 pounds).
“Every day, my heart gets tainted by dirt in the secular world, so I come here to repurify it over some drinks and fun,” said regular patron Noriko Urai, a 42-year-old businesswoman.
- See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbu ... dV4YH.dpuf
Is this really something people think is desireable?
Also, we can see from the example of Japan that Lay Buddhism does not mean less poltical Buddhism. On this board the Tibetan monastic establishment has been broadly criticized (in many cases rightly), for political intrigue. But the largest Nichiren denomination in Japan, Soka Gakkai, has a political party with some scandals called Komeito (now New Komeito) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Komeito_Party
so I would argue that lay Buddhism does nothing to get rid of cronyism or corruption. The only thing that can do that on the ultimate level is getting rid of the afflictions, on the conventional level having legislation to separate religion and politics.
If Buddhism in Japan was working I would be very willing to look at those models. But a cursory observation reveals it simply isn't, and while the Dharma is declining in most if not all the traditionally Buddhist countries in Asia, the decline in Japan is particularly rapid and pronounced.