Hello! This is my first post here. I've been practising mindfulness for about eight months now, thanks to an ongoing tussle with depression/anxiety and a recommendation to try the Headspace guided meditations. I've read several books on Buddhism since then, trying to understand mindfulness in its proper context, and Buddhism itself has really come to describe my view of the world.
One thing that's great about the Buddhist community, in my opinion, is the amount of literature it contains. I'm reading The Life of Milarepa right now. It's helpful to imagine how I might emulate these figures, Milarepa, Tenzin Palmo, and obviously the Buddha himself, but they all took steps in the name of spiritual development that I'm not sure I can take (or want to take?).
Milarepa renounces family, clothes, conversation. To me, this isn't a "middle way", it's extreme. Is this because he's practising Tantra? Trying to obtain enlightenment in one lifetime? Is this extreme path demanded of all of us, or only a select few? And how do you find out if it's for you?
I suppose what puzzles me is partly due to the lack of Buddhist memoirs written from the lay perspective. Our role models all seem to be from the monastic side of the sangha, and their lives, while inspirational, are also very demanding.
How do you reconcile your Buddhism with your not having taken the monastic/solitary route? Is it a case of thinking, "Well, I may not be ready for that step just now, but at some point in the future I could be, or even in some future life."
Basically: How can we read about inspirational figures like Milarepa, without feeling like we have to up sticks and go live in a cave?