I have the sense that by immersing myself in the dhamma I have done myself some good. Reading the teachings of Ajahn Chah, the lectures of Thich Nhat Hanh on YouTube, online retreats. I feel I know quite a lot about Buddhism and about what what the Buddha taught, and have put some of it into practice, gaining some wisdom in the process.
But I feel at an impasse. It is like I could do more of the same, making relatively little improvements. Or I could do something more drastic, such as going looking for wisdom in more unlikely places. I have touched on some of the peaks of Buddhism, eminent teachers reachable from my own home, but after a number of years with them it feels like I am stuck in a rut.
I could turn into a scholar of Buddhism, but I do not think i wish to follow that path. At some point I think I would have to say, this much dhamma is enough. Studying dhamma is like being carried along by a stream, but is that the studying or the dhamma? Have you ever had these reflections on your personal path?
For years I have followed the path of the upāsaka, so I don't really concern myself with a lot of the dhamma-vinaya. I read a sutta once in a while, but I think I have read what there is to read for householders specifically. The abidhamma doesn't interest me very much, and the vinaya pitaka doesn't apply... So I guess I'm the same place as you..
And it's fine, I have what I need to live skillfully as "laypeople enjoying sensuality; living crowded with spouses & children; using Kasi fabrics & sandalwood; wearing garlands, scents, & creams; handling gold & silver".
A reasonable question that just about any Buddhist practitioner should occasionally ask themselves.
As a soto zen obsessive, I find for myself that asking how "much Dharma is enough" is a little like asking how many lungsfuls of air is enough.
Of course, I also think that the Dharma is just the Buddha's path towards sufferings cessation and the degree to which I can find my way clear of my own attachments is the same degree to which everything reflects some aspect of that path.
How much Dharma is enough? Depends on how you define dharma, if the study of Dharma is not matched by it's application and more interestingly if it should really still be called dharma if one relates to it as a possesion & becomes attached to it.
@Kerome, Do you mean balancing formal study and the rest of your life?
Maybe think about what do you want as a reachable goal from practicing/studying dharma? Think about that and put it into words. And if it is something like "be enlightened" then what is that? What would be different from right now?
Ay caramba! I wish I did ...
Maybe you could start a cult? Open a Swiss bank account. Perhaps change your name to Shri Neti No Alot.
Hope that is helpful/appropriate/does not cause distress ...
When the light's turned on and one is no longer in the dark...
I guess this is when one becomes the Dharma one is practicing...no separation between practitioner and practice...
Bearing in mind...
You have no sense of shame! You are practically a heretic!
... damn already broke the precepts! ... Oh shit wrong speech ... was hardly gentle ... I'm off to fondle some sandalwood ... Happy Vesak anyways
Prayer for vesak:
Nope ... mind is blank ... Thanks Buddha
Thanks @jeffrey those are good suggestions, I will try putting my intentions into words. But I’ve often seen the path as something open ended, to find out that the dhamma is not an infinite well was a bit of a surprise...
Whether it is infinite or not, isn't the issue.
What you take from it, is what lasts and is perpetuated.
Like ripples on a pond, what we think, say and do, radiates outwards and through chain reactions, either strongly or subtly affects others. This is the infinity of the Dhamma. The unseen, untold effect we leave in our wake. In our thoughts, words and deeds, we ARE the Dhamma, manifested.
When YOU are enough, then you will know
On a serious note, I think it is important to remember the distinction between the ones who have gone forth and the householders. There is a reason the householder has a "householder's vinaya". Without the laity, monasticism wouldn't even be possible and the Path would be forgotten.
Buddha never admonished a person for being a householder. He simply taught the dhamma-vinaya in a way which householders can adhere to - even now, some 2500 years later.
It is not wrong for a person to have a fortune, to have expensive stuff, to enjoy life, even to wish for a long life (clinging to life) - AN 4,60. It is how you live as a householder, that is important.
I've seen householders manifest as arahants' and I have also seen the ordained epitomize worldly attachments.
One of the regrettable outcomes about heralding a difference between householders and the ordained is the envy or superiority that each group so often seems to develop for the other. From my zafu, it appears to be little more than a spiritual gilding of our baser tribal inclinations.
Regardless of what ever rules one thinks applies to one person's practicing choice over another's, sufferings existence, its cause and the addressing of those causes' touches everyone equally.
The simple maintenance of a view of deference for one classification over another, is just one of the more common causes of suffering that Buddhists in general too often tend to ignore.
Buddha directly adressed the difference. There is a whole pitaka about the vinaya of monastics. I think it's safe to say, there is a difference.
I don't know why that should lead to strife. It is, however, forbidden for a monk to claim superiority over others - see the bhikkhu patimokkha and bhikkhuni patimokkha. I can't see how or why a lay person would ever claim superiority over a monastic. Maybe I'm naive or lack imagination in that regard (🙂)
There are virtuous lay followers and unvirtuous monastics, and vice versa. Still, there is a vinaya for householders and one for monastics. The dhamma is the same of course, as is the Path to nibbana. But Buddha knew and aknowledged, that many people don't seek nibbana and still gave them a vinaya to follow. In turn, they make the monastic life possible for others.
... oops wait ... is not a challenge
Many monastics are escapists (refuge collectors), idealists (we iz almost bodhi) and otherwise as much use as deepak chopra, david yickes the lizard boy or similar faddists. Too cruel? Sadly I am not impressed with our current crop of sari wearing bald eagles.
However as laity we too are a shower, well I am. Half hearted practice. Not supporting the afflicted (see above) and spouting wrong speech on vesak ... tsk, tsk ...
Buddha help us. What he died an’ ain't coming back ... No o o o o o!!! ... [inner space no one can hear you scream].
No minds were harmed in the production of this email - allegedly
I hear ya cluckin' chicken!
Got in trouble off daughter this morning with school work....."Dad, can I just tick these to say I've done them?"
Dad (distracted): "Yeah sure honey....."
Daughter: "DAD! You shouldn't teach your kids to lie!"
Kids are Buddhas (beginner mind personified)
Nothing here but us fowl buddhas ...