Buddhism for the lay person?

General forum on the teachings of all schools of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. Topics specific to one school are best posted in the appropriate sub-forum.
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Namu Butsu
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Buddhism for the lay person?

Postby Namu Butsu » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:42 am

Hello all,

So in the history of Buddhism how were lay people involved? I really respect Shinran Shonin (the founder of Jodo Shinshu or Shin Buddhism) for his bringing Buddhism to the level of lay people aswell as his teacher Honen Shonin. But were there a big involvement earlier in buddhist history?

Look foward to responses.

Gassho
-Juan
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"Just say the nembutsu and be liberated" Shinran Shonin
"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences

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Indrajala
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Re: Buddhism for the lay person?

Postby Indrajala » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:06 am

That is such a broad question it would take several volumes of writing to actually satisfy that question.

In any case, Vimilakirti in scripture is the big name in lay Buddhism. :thumbsup:

http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/F ... akirti.htm


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Huifeng
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Re: Buddhism for the lay person?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Apr 16, 2010 4:17 am

Namu Butsu wrote:Hello all,

So in the history of Buddhism how were lay people involved? I really respect Shinran Shonin (the founder of Jodo Shinshu or Shin Buddhism) for his bringing Buddhism to the level of lay people aswell as his teacher Honen Shonin. But were there a big involvement earlier in buddhist history?

Look foward to responses.

Gassho
-Juan


Lay practitioners have been involved since the very beginnings of Buddhism. However, at certain points in Buddhist history in East Asia, there was a strong tendency towards monasticism. Later movements, particularly in the modern period, have tried to correct this problem. However, when they make claims that ALL earlier forms of Buddhism were overly monastic, that is a claim hardly backed by history. Still, some groups in China and Japan like to make these claims to promote their own group.

For early Buddhism, here are a couple of good chapters, from Narada's The Buddha and His Teachings:

THE BUDDHA AND HIS RELATIVES

THE BUDDHA AND HIS RELATIVES (Continued)

THE BUDDHA'S CHIEF OPPONENTS AND SUPPORTERS

THE BUDDHA'S ROYAL PATRONS

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Namu Butsu
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Re: Buddhism for the lay person?

Postby Namu Butsu » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:16 pm

Hello all,

a lot of information here. I appreciate and so quickly it was delivered. For some reason based on some of the works on shin buddhism it spoke of the Buddhist world as completely monastic until later periods. But I think perhaps it was reading that in particular during the kamakura era that Buddhism a lot of times was for the elite. I thought this was the same for China, but it seems I am mistaken based on some of these articles. Always interesting to know. I was looking up chinese pure land which seems for laymen but at the same time it seems like the practice was mainly for monastics and thats what one of my Jodo Shinshu books says as well that many of the visualizations and meditations on Amitabha were indeed for the monastics.

Thank you everyone again
Gassho
-juan
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"Just say the nembutsu and be liberated" Shinran Shonin
"However hard it may be to bid farewell to this world, when the conditions that bind us to this saha [samsara] realm run out, we are powerless to do anything as the final hour arrives and we are swept away to that Land." -A Record in Lament of Divergences

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Huifeng
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Re: Buddhism for the lay person?

Postby Huifeng » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:31 pm

For Chinese Buddhism, Pureland practice is pretty much for anyone and everyone. Case in point, the most common line you'll ever hear around a Chinese monastery or temple is simply "Amitofo!" with palms joined together, which is used as a greeting, thanks, agreement, or pretty much anything else for that matter! It is a bottom line practice that is found almost everywhere, and almost all Chinese Buddhists have practiced it in some form or another.

It is kind of impossible for Buddhism to ever be "completely monastic". Just think about the dynamics for a bit, and it is kind of obvious. But, as I say, in order to establish one's own group, one tends to have to point out some sort of fault in other groups. Faults there are, but by establishing oneself in a dialectical opposition to some other form, one spins oneself off into one extreme or another.

The Buddhist lay and monastic lifestyle work well together. To take one at the expense of the other does not bode well for the health of the Dharma.

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Astus
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Re: Buddhism for the lay person?

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:31 pm

Regarding lay practice it's also good to note that Vajrayana in India and Tibet was and is still strong on lay people, especially as there are certain meditation techniques not allowed for ordained monastics.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

Stephen
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Re: Buddhism for the lay person?

Postby Stephen » Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:49 am

The monastic Sangha really could not survive in its current form without the lay community. Lay Buddhists have played their role in our history from day one. I think Huifeng was also thinking about the problems involved in sustenance and procreation.

Although to know suffering and the way to its cessation would suggest that everyone on Earth should have this knowledge and seek Nirvana, there would be issues. Perhaps Maitreya might have a way to solve those. :)
The "self", which is a construct of the mind, is non-self. It is not us, and we are not it. This self blinds us to reality; it is our Mara, our Satan, our Hades. Cast it out and behold the path to freedom.
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