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Getting liberation does not necessarily require renouncing home-life!


The Buddha says he teaches only two things, namely, suffering and cessation of suffering. The Buddha saw that beings are experiencing various types of suffering in their lives. In his enumeration in the Dhammacakkapavattanasutta he says; suffering is birth, aging, sickness, death, coming contact with things one dislikes and not coming contact with things one likes etc. In brief, he says, grasping upon the five aggregates is suffering. He did not stop there but contemplated on how one can free from such various types of suffering. Therefore, we see after six long years of extreme austere practices at the foot of the bodhi-tree at Neranjara he found out the solution to the problem. He unraveled the mystery of our existence.

And thereafter he spent 45 years continuously until his last breath teaching and preaching what he had realized. His teaching brought peace to the mind of many individuals, many families, societies, and countries or kingdoms. People, following his teachings, were and are able to solve interpersonal, family, social, political, and economical and environmental problems even today. Thus understanding the different needs of people he preached his teachings, shared his knowledge and guided them accordingly. His only purpose was to free every individual from their state of suffering. And thus he showed each and every way to get liberation (vimutti).

However, many people believe the fundamental teachings which distinguish and characterize Buddhism are to be practiced only by certain group of people known as ascetic who renounces their home-life. That is not entirely true. Rather his teachings could be followed and practiced by one and all regardless of caste, color, race, nation etc. And everybody will receive the same benefit here and now, because the nature of his teaching as he explains is sa?di??iko meaning ‘visible here and now’. The only thing he emphasizes is that everybody should understand their present state of being. They should not engage in such activities that prolong their Samsaric life because the Samsaric life is full of suffering. By leading a mindful, careful and blameless life one can easily proceed on to attain the supreme bliss of mind i.e. Nibb?na.

Now the question is how one can lead such a life. At this juncture it is noteworthy to mention what the Buddha said to (his only son) Venerable Rahula. The Buddha in the Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta very systematically presents how Ven. Rahula [or any other individual] should act through his body, speech and mind if they desire to get happiness as opposed to unhappiness in their life. Here a ‘repeated mindful reflection’ is encouraged by the Buddha before, during and after performing any action through any of the three doors. Thus the Buddha says to Rahula: “Thus, Rahula, you should train yourself: ‘I will purify my bodily actions through repeated reflection. I will purify my verbal actions through repeated reflection. I will purify my mental actions through repeated reflection.’ That’s how you should train yourself.

If you and everybody in your family can lead such a life then you do not practically need to reject your home-life. And if you can not lead a mindful and blameless life and if your mind is full of unwholesome mentalities such as ?savakilesa, etc. then there is no point in living like an ascetic in forest or any other place. Because just by living alone, with shaved head and wearing brown robe one does not become an ascetic. One who is free from unwholesome mentalities or at least try to eliminate those – he is rightly called a samana (ascetic) – See: Dhp: 264-270.

Editor’s Note:

A lay Buddhist or householder who has relinquished grasping upon the Five Aggregates as this is I; this is mine; this belongs to me is more highly esteemed that an ordained monk, nun or ascetic dwelling in the monastery, forest or cave. Respect and praise go to the Wise (Pandita) who has developed wisdom and virtue to benefit oneself and others.

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