Author Topic: Enlightened layperson  (Read 7988 times)

sonamdhargey

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Enlightened layperson
« on: May 06, 2012, 02:26:15 PM »
Can a layperson (Buddhist) be enlightened or the only way to be enlightened, we must be a monk or a nun?

I believe there is a possibility that a layperson can be enlightened but can anyone here share your thoughts about how is it possible for a layperson be enlightened and if not why is it not possible?

Please share your thought.

Q

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2012, 05:39:39 PM »
I believe a lay person can be enlightened with practice and following their Guru's instructions perfectly.

Why? or Where did I came to this conclusion? Well, we can see it through reading the stories of Mahasiddhas... 90% of the Mahasiddhas are lay people whom learned from their great teachers and later on gained enlightenment. Therefore I do believe that a lay person can gain enlightenment.

However, I also believe in our day and time... those that are sincere with their spiritual path, and if they practice and transform internally, they will see the only thing left is to be either a monk/nun.

brian

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2012, 05:58:58 PM »
I believe unless the lay person is living a monk's life, I don't think it is possible for a lay person to gain enlightenment these days. Especially in this era of degenerate times, we would have huge obstacles preventing us from practising Dharma to the fullest. But it was much easier those days.

I don't recall if Naropa was a monk serving his Guru Tilopa for many years. Naropa gained enlightenment by being a lay person serving his beloved Guru Tilpoa for many many years before gaining enlightenment. While I can't recall any other layman that has achieved enlightenment, please correct me if I am wrong.

ratanasutra

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2012, 04:11:38 PM »
When we born as a human we have the potential to become the Buddha, mean we can attain an enlightenment..

In Vajrayana, there are some of tantric practice that if you receive it and do the practice well with follow the teacher instructions all the way you can gain enlightenment in one life time or seven life time etc.

Of course, the enlightenment is there but how we can reach that state which it not that easy, we really need to work hard for it as come from many factor ie our integrity, effort, patience, holding vows, commitment, devotion etc

Tenzin K

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2012, 12:00:17 AM »
Interesting!

Before I learn dharma I always thought that only a monk/nun able to be enlightened but after I start learn up in a Vajrayana centre, it’s not necessary. Just like what Q mentioned, the Mahasiddhas which most of them are lay people but from their great practice and the most important key is follow strictly what the Guru says it bring them to enlightenment. In Vajrayana practices there are practices that can bring one to achieve enlightenment but it’s very much depended on one motivation, Guru devotion and consistency.

But at this degenerate age, it’s not easy to achieve due to so much delusion and distraction from our wrong view and attachment. Being a monk/nun is a platform for one to free from those and with the vows serve as a guide for total freedom.

Tammy

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2012, 01:15:53 AM »
Duh!! Of course a layperson can be enlightened.. Buddha's teaching is to show the path to enlightenment, this mean anyone can be enlightened and leave the circle of samsara. It's just that, to follow the path to be enlightened, we have to shake off all our bad and negative habituation, the process is easier to be achieved of we renounce the samsaric lives and becomes nun or monk.
Down with the BAN!!!

pgdharma

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2012, 08:49:53 AM »
Yes, lay people can be enlightened. Every being has the potential to be enlightened but it takes tremendous merits to achieve Buddhahood. Some of the factors for lay people, monks or nuns to work towards Enlightenment are to hold their vows well; have Guru Devotion, pure motivation, compassion and the realization of emptiness.  We may not be able to gain Enlightenment in this life time but we can create the cause now to collect merits for our future lives to meet up with the dharma again  and again until we achieve Enlightenment.

Galen

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2012, 01:59:45 PM »
What do we mean by enlightenment or getting enlightened? Do we become buddha or what? Enlightenment is getting our of samsara and free from suffering. So, a layperson can become enlightened, does not only apply to monks and nuns.

In order to achieve enlightenment, a person would have to generate lots of merits through various means like making offerings to buddhas, guru devotion, being compassionate, dong dharma work and doing good for others. It takes a lot of determination and discipline to get there. Enlightenment in one lifetime is possible but for many, it will take many lifetimes to get there. S, it is good to start now so that we can get there sooner rather than later.

If we fall down into the 3 lower realms, then enlightenment would become harder. The best is that we have our perfect human body where we can use to perform good deeds and gain merits. Do not lose this opportunity.


biggyboy

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2012, 03:05:30 PM »
Why not? Any lay people can be enlightened. Not necessarily the monks or nuns or teachers.  It takes tremendous merits to practise and shake off the baggages viz negativities, habituations, etc to become enlightened.  We have to be sincerely and consistently work towards it by holding our vows, applying the Eightfold Path...the eight steps comprising the path in a practical guide to ethics, mental rehabilitation, and mental reconditioning. By achieving these eight steps, one will eliminate all suffering and reach the desired state of Enlightenment....

Right Understanding
The Right Understanding is crucial, particularly the identification, causes, consequences of, and through these eight steps, the elimination of suffering. The Right Understanding also conveys an understanding of the non-permanence of the self.

Right Thought
To have the Right Thought, one should fully understand his purpose in following the teachings of the Buddha, as well as his outlook on the world and world issues.

Right Speech
The focus of the Right Speech is to avoid harmful language, such as lying or unkind words. It is far better to use gentle, friendly and meaningful words, even when a situation calls for a truth that may be hurtful, despite the follower’s best intentions.

Right Action
The Right Action forms a list of fundamental ethical behaviors one should follow. These are the Five Precepts:
To refrain from destroying living beings
To refrain from stealing
To refrain from sexual misconduct (adultery, rape, etc.)
To refrain from false speech (lying)
To refrain from intoxicants which lead to heedlessness

Right Livelihood
Those seeking enlightenment should pick the Right Livelihood to support the other fundamentals of Buddhism. One should avoid employment in positions where their actions may cause harm to others, be it directly or indirectly.

Right Effort
One recognize that human nature limits the mind at times and causes ill thoughts. Unlike Right Thought, the Right Effort focuses on working to remove the bad thoughts and replace them with positive, more pleasant thoughts.

Right Mindfulness
The Right Mindfulness, along with Right Concentration, is the foundation of Buddhist meditation. Monks, or other followers, should focus their minds on their body, emotions, mental workings, and mental qualities, but not on worldly desire and aversion while meditating.

Right Concentration
Coupled with Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration lays the framework for proper meditation. Rather than focusing on the mental aspects, the Right Concentration gives instructions as to how to work through the steps of focus in effective meditation.

 

Midakpa

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 05:50:04 PM »
Of course a layperson can achieve enlightenment. But don't forget that he/she must have practised and already had attainments in his/her past lives. Mahasiddhas are most probably emanations of Buddhas or reincarnations of enlightened beings.

It is easier for a monk or nun to be enlightened because of their renunciation. By taking vows, everyday that they keep their vows, they gain a lot of merits. It is said that to become a son or daughter of the Buddha, one needs merits as vast as space.

The merit of renouncing is very great because the monks and nuns take the responsibility to practise and spread Buddhism in the world. They put in more effort.

A layperson should first practise as a good lay follower, develop his/her mind sincerely, practise the renounced way and contribute to Buddhism before deciding to renounce.

dondrup

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2012, 06:01:52 PM »
All sentient beings have the potential (i.e. Buddha Nature) to become fully enlightened or achieve Buddhahood.  However, humans have the best conditions to practise Dharma and become enlightened compared to the Gods, Demi-Gods, Animals, Hungry Ghost & Hell Beings. 

There are many ways to become enlightened!  It is a choice for the practitioner to choose between the path of the ordained and the path of the lay person.  Both the ordained sangha and lay practitioner is equally capable of enlightenment.  What is needed is to follow and practise the methods as prescribed by the Buddha. 

The ordained sangha holds many monks’ or nuns’ vows.  If these vows are upheld purely, then it facilitates the accumulation of vast amount of merits needed to accomplish Buddhahood.  There are of course many other reasons why the path of the sangha is conducive compared to the path of the layperson.  On the other hand, the lay person could be holding the Tantric and Bodhisattva Vows.  Lay persons can similarly accumulate vast amount of merits too if they hold their vows purely.

RedLantern

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2012, 07:02:31 PM »
The Buddha clearly stated that everyone can reach enlightenment-men or women-ordained people and householders.Anything said to the contrary must clearly be recognised as from the culture of certain countries and not genuine Buddhist teaching.
Once the spiritual practitioner have gathered more love and compassion through their practice,which is the main aim of all strands of Buddhism.A lay person can accumulate a great amount of merits by holding their vows purely.So in conclusion,any lay person ca be enlightened,not necessarily monks and nuns.

sonamdhargey

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2012, 08:17:24 AM »
Thank you all for your thoughts and opinion. It is very much appreciated. I would like to point out certain views of some of you, i've not met any layperson who become enlightened nor heard of any. However from your point of view there are possibilities for a layperson to become enlightened. However the possibility in this era seems very far fetched. In order for a layperson to be enlightened, they have to practice holding vows and conducts like the the Sangha. In other words the layperson are pretty much renounce just without the title nun or monk.

bambi

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2012, 11:15:09 AM »
I believe that a lay person can definitely gain Enlightenment. We have Milarepa and HH Sakya Trizin for example. Thru pure Guru Devotion and practices they show me that we as lay person definitely can.

Knowing that his revenge was wrong, Milarepa set out to find a lama and was led to Marpa the translator. Marpa proved a hard taskmaster. Before Marpa would teach Milarepa he had him build and then demolish three towers in turn. When Marpa still refused to teach Milarepa he went to Marpa's wife, who took pity on him. She forged a letter of introduction to another teacher, Lama Ngogdun Chudor, under whose tutelage he practised meditation. However when he was making no progress, he confessed the forgery and Ngogdun Chudor said that it was vain to hope for spiritual growth without the guru Marpa's approval. Milarepa returned to Marpa, and after practicing very diligently for twelve years Milarepa attained the state of Vajradhara (complete enlightenment). He is said to be the first to achieve this state within one lifetime. He then became known as Milarepa, which means the "Mila, the cotton clad one" (the suffix "repa" is given to many tantric yogis since they wear white robes) At the age of forty-five, he started to practice at Drakar Taso (White Rock Horse Tooth) cave - 'Milarepa's Cave', as well as becoming a wandering teacher.

Sakya Pandita was the real Vajradhara, however, some beings perceived him as an ordinary Dharma teacher. When Sakya Pandita was born, a multitude of auspicious signs appeared that a Bodhisattva had been born.

Big Uncle

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Re: Enlightened layperson
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2012, 03:48:54 PM »
Thank you all for your thoughts and opinion. It is very much appreciated. I would like to point out certain views of some of you, i've not met any layperson who become enlightened nor heard of any. However from your point of view there are possibilities for a layperson to become enlightened. However the possibility in this era seems very far fetched. In order for a layperson to be enlightened, they have to practice holding vows and conducts like the the Sangha. In other words the layperson are pretty much renounce just without the title nun or monk.

Ohh! There are so many laypeople that became enlightened but they are not necessarily people you have met. Many of them became enlightened through the power of Tantra and already Bambi mentioned Sakya Trizin, Milarepa and Marpa.

These are incredible great lineage masters who were not monks and yet they achieved enlightenment in dependence on Tantric practice. However, I am not sure why she talked about Sakya Pandita who was a monk. By the way, Sakya Pandita is recognized to be an earlier incarnation of Dorje Shugden. Hence, he became the Protector of the Sakyas first before he was propitiated by the Gelugs. There are others and the list goes on.

However, having said that, for these lay Lamas, it was not their monastic vows that propelled them to enlightenment but it was by the power of their Guru devotion and subsequent Tantric practices. Therefore, it is vital for many to understand the path leading to Tantra so they will understand the ground rules and requirements that will make or break their Tantric practice.