Dharma Wheel

A Buddhist discussion forum on Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism
It is currently Tue Dec 23, 2014 4:12 am

All times are UTC [ DST ]

Forum rules

Please click here to view the forum rules

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:26 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:14 pm
Posts: 854
How far is the extent that lay practitioners in the different traditions learn and practise Dharma besides merit-making activities?

Merit-making is all well and good but in the end, it is only an aspect of śīla; prajñā and samādhi are neglected. It is less than 1/3 of the three trainings. How far then are lay practitioners in different traditions educated in the other 2/3?

In Tibet it seems to vary a lot from place to place. Ippolito Desideri, a Jesuit missionary in the late 18th century, reported that Tibetan laypeople often took one month of work every year to do a retreat and had good knowledge of their faith while in other places it seems that monks would laugh at the possibility of laypeople having any accomplishment. On the other hand, large-scale public empowerments and teachings seemed to exist from a fairly early period too, especially among the non-Gelug schools I think? There are ngagpas and chodpas who are technically "laypeople" but their lifestyles are clearly more religiously focused than other laypeople, but there are also many accounts from an early period of people who seemed to be "ordinary" laypeople on the surface but turn out to be masters of a certain teaching; Marpa, Zhangston Chosbar are examples from an early age while more recently there are stories about ordinary people who manifested rainbow body.

Chinese Buddhist traditions today actually teach meditation quite widely, but I think it's a fairly recent development influenced by Humanistic Buddhism. Historically I think lay chanting of sutras was more common than meditation. I think repeating Amitabha's name works as a method of meditation too, so I would count that.

How about other traditions (including Theravada)?

I found the fact that S.N. Goenka's teacher was a Burmese layman interesting, but there was not a lot I found out about him last time I searched.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:54 am 

Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:01 am
Posts: 102
It seems to vary significantly between different communities, temples, and monasteries. Very historically, several lay followers are said to have become arahants. See Lay arahant on dhammawiki.

dhammawiki wrote:
But there is a list of 21 lay followers in AN 6.131 - 151 / 3:450 f; PTS ed AN 6.119-120 who attained full enlightenment. One is listed as a doctor, others as householders, so it does not appear they were all ascetics.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 5:10 am 
User avatar

Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 8:08 am
Posts: 734
Location: SouthEast USA
In Japanese Buddhism the big lay movements started in the 12th and 13th centuries respectively with Honen introducing chanting Amitabha's name as a sole practice (and his disciple Shinran) and Nichiren spreading the practice of chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra (known as Odaimoku). These are still the two biggest movements in Japan: Pure Land and Nichiren Buddhism. Dogen tried with Soto Zen, but zen meditation for lay followers only became big overseas.

Esoteric Buddhism in Japan was and is limited to the priesthood.

Actually chanting is indeed considered meditation, the great founder of the Tiantai school Zhiyi (600) included it in his 4 practices leading to samadhi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratyutpanna_Sutra. He wrote the seminal 'Mohe Zhiguan' (Chinese: 摩訶止観, Jpn.: Makashikan

In Nichiren Buddhism, chanting Odaimoku is seen as the practice that leads to buddhahood in this very life. Depending on the school you may practice shikan as well.


Honmon Butsuryu Shu

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 

All times are UTC [ DST ]

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group