Who is a lay Buddhist? He is one who has a deep, steady confidence and faith in the Buddha, who believes, studies and practises the Dhamma and who cherishes the Sangha. He follows the Five Precepts and tries to help others keep them. He takes refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Though living in a world of desires, a Buddhist avoids becoming attached to such desires for he knows such things are impermanent.
The Mirror of Happiness To strengthen the faith in the Buddha-Dhamma, a lay follower should realise that true happiness lies within his own mind. By following the Way taught by the Buddha, he can experience this peace and happiness. This happiness, when it is radiated on others, will multiply in the minds of others and will then be reflected back to him again. The mind of faith is pure and gentle, always patient and enduring, never arguing, never causing suffering to others but always pondering on the Triple Gem.
Daily Observance of a Buddhist Buddhists usually keep an altar in the most prominent part of the house. A Buddha image is placed in the centre of the altar along with an incense burner, a flower vase and two candle stands. The Buddha image is given the highest seat in the room with nothing above it, and is never treated as ornaments. The Buddha image is treated with reverence. In the morning and evening, the Buddhist offer flowers, light candles and burn the incense sticks. The buddhist then pay reverence by bowing three times (the first time to the Buddha; the second time to the Dhamma; the third time to the Sangha). After this, he recites the ancient verses in Pali or English or in their own language.
A Buddhist Home When there is love in the home, the home will always be filled with happiness and laughter. But if there is discord, the home will be wrecked with sorrows. When discord arises within one’s family, one should not blame others but should examine one’s own mind and follow the right path.
Parents and children The Buddha taught that it is very difficult for a son to repay his parents for their love and kindness, even if he could carry his father on his right shoulder and his mother on his left for a hundred years. The only way to repay the great debt is to lead one’s parents to the Buddha’s teachings and persuade them to follow the Path. The Buddha’s blessings abide in the home where parents are held in respect and esteem. A child should honour his parents and do for them all that he is supposed to do. Parents should, in turn, do five things for their children – avoid doing evil; set examples by doing good deeds; give them an education; arrange for their marriage and let them inherit the family wealth at a proper time.
Husband and Wife The Buddha said that there are four types of homes: Male ghost lives with a female ghost. Male ghost lives with a goddest. God lives with a female ghost. God lives with a goddest.
Husband and Wife A home where both partners do all good deeds is the ideal Buddhist home. It is where members live according to Buddhist principles such that it generates an atmosphere of happiness, love, peace and harmony. A husband should treat his wife with respect, courtesy and fidelity. A wife should take pains with her housekeeping, manage the servants wisely and not waste her husband’s income.
Use of Wealth A man should use his income in the following manner: <ul><li>Invest his money </li></ul><ul><li>Spend on his daily expenses </li></ul><ul><li>Share some of it with his family, friends and relatives </li></ul><ul><li>Save some for emergency </li></ul>The Buddha also taught that one should lead a balanced life and live within one’s means, being neither too extravagant nor too stingy. One should not indulge in vice activities that can dissipate one’s wealth.
Relationship With Others Teacher & Pupil A pupil should always rise when his teacher enters, wait upon him, follow his instructions well, not neglect an offering for him and listen respectfully to his teaching. A teacher should act rightly before a pupil and set a good example for him. He should correctly pass on to him the teachings he has learned; he should use good methods and try to prepare the pupil for honours; and he should not forget to protect the pupil from evil in every way.
Relationship With Others Master and Servant A master should observe five things: <ul><li>Assign work that is suitable for the servant’s abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Give him proper compensation </li></ul><ul><li>Care for him when he is in ill health </li></ul><ul><li>Share pleasant things with him </li></ul><ul><li>Give him needed rest </li></ul>A servant should observe five things: <ul><li>Get up in the morning before the master </li></ul><ul><li>Go to bed after the master </li></ul><ul><li>Should always be honest </li></ul><ul><li>Take pains to do his work well </li></ul><ul><li>Try not to bring discredit to his master’s name </li></ul>
Relationship With Others Friends A man should associate with the wise and not the fools. He should recognise among his acquaintances those he should or should not associate. The ones whom he should associate are those who are helpful, willing to share happiness and suffering, give good advice and have a sympathetic heart. The ones whom he should not associate are those who are greedy, clever talkers, flatters and wasters.
A Layman’s Happiness Buddhism does not consider material welfare as an end in itself: it is only a means to achieve a higher purpose for man’s happiness. Certain material requisites are necessary to create conditions favourable to spiritual happiness. The Buddha said that four things are conducive to a man’s happiness in this world: Be skillful, efficient, earnest and energetic in the profession and should know it well. Protect his income earned righteously. Should have good friends who are faithful, learned, virtuous, liberal and intelligent, who will help him along the right path away from evil. Should live within his means
A Layman’s Happiness The Buddha further said that the following four virtues are conducive to a man’s happiness hereafter: Should have faith and confidence in moral, spiritual and intellectual values (Saddha) Should observe the Five Precepts (Sila) Should practise charity, generosity without attachment and craving for his wealth (Caga) Should develop wisdom which leads to the complete destruction of suffering to the realisation of Nibbana (Panna) Sila Caga Panna Saddha
A Layman’s Happiness At one time the Buddha told Anathapindika, the millionaire, about the four kinds of happiness of a laymen. The first happiness is to enjoy economic security acquired through righteous means. The second is spending that wealth liberally on himself, his family, friends and relatives and on meritorious deeds. The third is to be free from debts. The fourth happiness is to live a faultless, and a pure life without committing evil in thought, word or deed. The Buddha considered economic welfare as important for a man’s happiness, but He did not recognise mere material progress as true advancement if devoid of a spiritual and moral foundation. He said that economic and material happiness is not worth one sixteen part of the spiritual happiness arising out of a faultless and good life. HAPPINESS
Wisdom Concentration Morality Journey to Enlightenment Ways of practice 1. Discipline for practical behaviour (Sila) Noble Eightfold Path Every man should: <ul><li>Follow the precepts for good behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Control his mind and body; and guard the gates of the five senses </li></ul><ul><li>Be afraid of performing even a trifling evil </li></ul><ul><li>Practise only good deeds. </li></ul>The seeker of enlightenment must understand and follow the 3 ways of practice:
Wisdom Concentration Morality Journey to Enlightenment Ways of practice 2. Right concentration of the mind (Samadhi) Noble Eightfold Path Every man should: <ul><li>Dispel greedy and evil desires from his mind as quickly as they arise </li></ul><ul><li>Hold his mind pure and tranquil </li></ul>3. Wisdom (Pana) Every man should understand and patiently accept the Four Noble Truths.
Four Sublime States Four sublime states of mind that a seeker should cherish: Metta - loving kindness Karuna - compassion Mudita - sympathetic joy Upekkha - equanimity One can remove anger by cherishing loving-kindness. One can remove cruelty by compassion. One can remove jealousy by sympathetic joy. One can remove the habit of discriminating enemies and friends by an equanimous mind. With care one may cherish these four sublime states and may get rid of greed, anger, suffering, but it is not an easy thing to do.
Enlightenment The journey to enlightenment is a long journey and the seeker cannot expect to remove worldly desires today, remove attachments and evil desires tomorrow and to attain Enlightenment the day after. The seeker must be patient in the cultivation. If Enlightenment is easy to gain, we need not have the Buddha to show us the Way. As the Blessed One said to the bhikkhus before His passing away, "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to decay. Strive on diligently!”
May your dhamma path be smooth and may you be blessed by the Triple Gem always.
“ Hard is it to be born a man; hard is the life of mortals. Hard is it to gain the opportunity of hearing the Sublime Truth, and hard to encounter is the arising of the Buddhas.” Dhammapada 182
The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts the taste of Dhamma excels all taste, the delight in dhamma excels all delights, The Craving-Freed vanquishes all suffering. - Dhammapada verse 354 End of Lesson 12