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Stepping out of usual patterns, not out of relationships

by Denis Wallez (@DenisWallez)
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Buddhism is a path to get out of the samsaric ‘game’.

For the most part, practitioners know how to play the ‘game’… from jockeying for the work promotion, playing the seduction game only until one gets whatever one wanted, protecting one's interests, to beefing up one's reputation through networking, through lies, through blaming others or even stabbing ‘friends’ in the back if necessary… They know how to play, but they realized the futility of that game; they realized that happiness doesn't follow; the anxiety of potential losses, the fear of retaliations, the stress of constantly fighting just to stay afloat, only lead to some unsatisfactory survival, hardly a fulfilling life.


Lay life is definitely presented as a hindrance on the path, in the early suttas. Renouncing lay life —and abiding in homelessness— is presented as the starting point of dedicated practice towards Enlightenment, e.g. in the cūḷahatthipadopama sutta (MN 27):

Household life is crowded and dusty; life gone forth is wide open. It is not easy, while living in a home, to lead the holy life utterly perfect and pure as a polished shell. Suppose I shave off my hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from the home life into homelessness.

The muni sutta (Sn 1.12) ends with:

a householder cannot match a monk, a sage meditating in the woods.

The Buddha even voluntarily misled Nanda (how controversial is that?!) to renounce “a Sakyan girl — the envy of the countryside” he was smitten with1.


And yet, it can be quite self-serving for monks to rely on such quotes…

For starters, most monastics seem to have forgotten about forest dwelling, and rather enjoy the solid structures of monasteries; cherry-picking isn't very convincing (it wasn't convincing even during the Buddha's time: tatiyaovāda sutta, SN 16.8, or

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