Buy my kids a brand new pair of shoesSeptember 3, 2018
I’m a householder, so it makes good sense for me to fulfill that role as best as I can, without any particular attachment to the responsibilities, luxuries, status, or suffering that come along with the role. It makes sense to do my best as a householder so I can accumulate merit that will make me a better meditator. I get to enjoy all of the comforts of a householder, and of course I have to endure all of the stress and trials, but none of the particulars matter too much, what matters is that my efforts create good causes for myself and others, providing a stable foundation for the practice of sila, samadhi, and panna.
I think it sounds pretty nice to be a renunciate, but that’s just not the reality of my life. Renunciates get to cut all kinds of nonsense out of their lives and focus solely on ripping out suffering by the root. Along with the privilege of abandoning the householder life comes the responsibility of seriously striving for attainments, and providing guidance, good example and inspiration to householders.
Renunciates cannot just be bums, they need to work hard and fulfill their role. Likewise, householders have no excuse to be bums or hedonists. Along with the privilege of enjoying wealth and pleasure comes the responsibility to work hard and fulfill the role of a householder.
Work is not just a means to meet material wants and familial obligations. Once all responsibilities are met, work continues to demand attention as an end in itself and a means of serving society.
Householders get to enjoy the fruits of labor, but focus needs to stay on the labor itself, not the results. Focusing only on the fruits of labor leads to idleness, which is a squandering of energy and talent. There is no merit in a monk that doesn’t meditate and there is no merit in a worker who doesn’t work.
It’s distracting for monks to get caught up in what meditative abilities they’ve acquired, what status they have, what wisdom they’ve gained, and so on. The monk’s job isn’t to be proud of himself. He’s allowed to use and enjoy his accomplishments, but he needs to remain focused on his work. So it’s probably not a good idea for me to get caught up in what great work I’ve done, or respect I’ve won, or experience I’ve gained, and so on. Instead I should humbly enjoy the fruits of my labor while I continue to focus on my work.