It occurred to me that the Buddha encouraged his followers to become mendicant monks for a good reason. As a monk you spend far less time engaged in the difficulties of the ordinary, day to day world, and you have the opportunity to meditate and learn the dharma. Now here in the west there are far fewer opportunities to become a monk, and perhaps there is more of those things that monks get to avoid.
All of this leads to greater difficulty for western Buddhist practitioners. So I have spent some time thinking about the differences between a monks life and an ordinary westerner, and I came to the conclusion that for a serious spiritual life it seems to be important to avoid feeding the fires: desire, anger, delusion. Now there are things in the common life which feed these fires more than others. There is a definite connection with the three poisons.
Here is a short snippet from a post in the Enlightenment and Psychedelics thread:
Family => Love, possessiveness, my-making
Power, status, renown, fame => Vanity, distraction, daydreams, delusion
Money, property => Greed, wishes for more, desire, attachment
Sex, lust => Jealousy, desire, possessiveness, my-making
Pleasure, the senses, food, alcohol => Distraction, attachment, delusion
Conflict, feuds, rows, fighting => Adrenaline, anger, hatred
It strikes me that one could live a style of life in the west where one avoids some or all of these things, a kind of sober and minimalist way of living without necessarily a full set of monastic vows, which attempts to follow the Buddha’s prescription in spirit, if not in all of the particulars of the vinaya.