Saturday, January 10, 2009

Worldling, wayfarer

A worldling is someone who has worldly pursuits: family, work. The spiritual path is a path of transcendence. In Buddhism a worldling is called prthagjanas. Now while in the FWBO, we are considered neither monastic or lay, in part because of the Theravadin emphasis on monasticism. seems too exclusive. You might say that the Mahayana was a reaction to literalism and monasticism. Reginald Ray's book The Buddhist Saints of India, argues that non-monastic Buddhists were written out of the cannon by the monastic writers. We want to make the path available for more than just people who retreat from society. It's important to empower people on the path, not say "you can't do it."

The danger of being a worldling is that you don't have enough solitude and privacy to practice in the deeper states of concentration. Another danger is being swept up, and losing the values of going for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Whether the historical Buddha actually left a family or not is in a way not important. The transcendental example is perhaps more important than the worldling facts.

As I write this my sons flank me, and Sid The Science Kid is on the TV. I meditated for 18 minutes of my hoped for 40 minute meditation, and the kids woke up.

I've recently been swamped, starting a new job. I work, go to school, and now I've added on the pressure of having to pass the licensing exam for clinical social workers. This weekend, and until I pass my test, I really need to pass up on most of the Buddhist activities I usually do. I've been swept up in the tide of worldly things. I have anxiety about that. My motivation is to settle my life down so that I can spend more time doing Buddhisty things.

I recently had a post about what inspires me.
In that post I discussed how retreat and deep meditation experience inspire me. Another inspiration for me is reading. I recently finished No Time To Lose by Pema Chodron, and now I'm working on Sangharakshita's A Survey of Buddhism. This is a hugely inspiring book. I noted recently that they came out with The Essential Sangharakshita from Wisdom Publishing. But I digress. My point is that snatching some reading of the Dharma is a way to keep in contact with my going for refuge, when sangha is not around and I don't have the space to meditation.

Another struggle I'm having is that I used to meditate in the morning. I worked 8-4 and so I left before the kids woke up. I could get up early and meditate (most days). But now I work at night, and I go to bed so late I can't get up before they do. So what do I do. I can walk the boys to school and then meditate, which I do some days. I am particularly struggling to meditate before I go to bed. I love doing it first thing in the day, but I'm somehow not successful in doing it last thing of the day. Anyone have any suggestions for meditating before bed?

Perhaps I need to emphasize what I can on the path. Walking to and from work, which I do when I can, has a meditative quality, and I can always work on my ethics, falling in line with the my ideals and the ten pillars. I think my job and family life is spiritualized, I challenge myself to be spiritual in these contexts. I think another practice is patience until things settle down. I'm not always going to be this busy.

My son says he's hungry. I'd better get breakfast going.

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