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Buddhists/marriage in the way of enlightenment


QUESTION: what exactly is enlightenment?
it is said that we need to devote may be our entire life if we want to achieve enlightenment. people go to himalaya's and meditate for years together to achieve that. if that is the case then is it ever possible for an ordinary person to reach enlightenment without giving up his job or family life?
i may have completely misunderstood the meaning of enlightenment so plz forgive me if my question sounds very stupid.

ANSWER: Dear Gurinder Singh,

Enlightenment is the elimination of the darkness of ignorance. Our minds has a lot of ignorance, that is we believe a lot of things that are wrong, enlightenment is realizing they are wrong and learning what is right.

There are many levels of it.

The first level: Sotapanna - Stream Enterer.

In this level, we eliminate the ignorance that deals with physical form and attachment to belongings. That is, we eliminate physical greed. We awaken our minds to the truth that our bodies are only a temporary vessel to be used and will eventually be returned to this earth (like a hotel room you rent). We also understand that physical objects are only here for us to use, not to own or control or fight or kill for.

The second level: Sakadami - Once returner.

In this level, we eliminate the ignorance that comes with the eight worldly conditions: Happiness and Suffering, Compliments and Insults, Increase in Status, Decrease in Status, Increase in Wealth and Decrease in Wealth. In summary, this is emotional greed. When people compliment us, we feel our egos increase. When people insult us, we feel our egos deflate. We believe that we can stockpile compliments and that insults remove our ego size. Enlightenment in this issue is learning and accepting that the eight worldly conditions cannot truly change the sense of self.

The third level: Anagami - Non Returner.

In this level, we eliminate the sense of anger and retribution. We understand the danger and perils of the evils of our actions and the true and real realization that our actions have strong karmic results that send us into the realm of rebirths and hell.

The fourth level: Arahant - Fully Enlightened

In this level, we eliminate all remaining defilements that remain in our minds. (Very very hard)

To answer your question, you do not need to go to the mountains or any particular place to become enlightenment. Enlightenment occurs in our mind, not in a place. Meditation also does not lead to enlightenment. Contemplation and thinking is how we achieve it. Meditation is a tool, not the method.

In terms of an ordinary person, they can achieve the first three levels at home, without giving up his job. Once you reach the third level, sexual relations are no longer possible, therefore sometimes husband/wives find it hard to stay together. This is usually where people tend to ordain. The last level can also be achieved anywhere. However, if you are not ordained then you will die in 7 days.

Enlightenment is not far off if you know how to do it.

I hope I have answered your questions.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thnku so much for your last reply. But i did not understand the last part where you said that if we are not ordained then we would die in 7 days. What does that mean?????

Dear Gurinder Singh,

The Buddha taught that any layperson who achieves Arahantship will die within 7 days if he/she has not ordained.

I don't know the exact reason, (especially since I am not an Arahant...yet), but I will take a guess.

I assume that the purity of our minds cannot exist in a society that does not understand. By Arahants living as regular people, people will not know to be careful around them and in dealing with them. In addition, the purity of their minds cannot exist in a body that still does impure things as normal. The only way that an Arahant mind can exist in a human body is if the body lives as pure as possible. This is most efficiently achieved through astutely following the monk/bhikkhuni precepts (200+). It is not feasible for a layperson to follow the 200+ precepts.

This is just my guess. However, I don't put much thought into it, I figure, when I get there, I will know better as to the reasons.

I am sorry I couldn't give a more exact answer.  


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I can answer questions about Buddhist practice, Buddhist understanding and how to apply Buddhism to daily life. I can help analyze Buddhist sayings and teachings. In addition, I can help with questions Buddhism stories, fables and Vinaya(rules). I have meditated for over 10 years and can help you start with meditation. In addition, I can help provide insight into what to do when you feel that you have hit a wall with your meditation. My main area of expertise is how to think in accordance with Sammaditthi (the right view - and number 1 in the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. If I cannot answer your question, I have many able teachers with over 20 years experience to help me, so chances are I will be able to find an answer for you.


I have been practicing Buddhism since I was born, but as a serious practice since 2003. I started studying under various famous Thai Theravada masters. Finally, I met and studied under Phra Acariya Thoon Khippapanyo who has recently passed away on Nov 11, 2008 and is widely accepted as a great Arahant (fully enlightened) teacher of our time. In addition, I have personally read and studied much of the Buddhist scriptures and popular literature available. I have recently undertaken the ordination vows and have become a Buddhist monk in the theravada forest monk tradition. I reside at a temple with many dedicated practitioners and great teachers. I have been practicing training my mind to be aligned with right view (sammaditthi) for over 10 years. I have also been meditating for over 10 years. In my time spent with Acariya Thoon, I learned many things and was able to incorporate them into my life. In addition to practicing Buddhism within temples and my home, I used to own two restaurants and managed commercial real estate. I had to deal with many different and problems. I learned how to use Buddhism to fix my problems, both externally (my environment) and internally (within me).

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