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Buddhists/monks and layperson


whenever it is asked wether we need to shave heads or leave family life in order to become buddhist, it is said that none of these is required. we just need to understand the 4 noble truth and follow the eightfold path. then why do people become buddhist monks? i mean, what special thing does a buddhist monk do that a layperson following the same path does not? what is the advantage to becoming a monk and following buddhism rather than being a layperson and following buddhism?

Dear Gurinder Singh,

Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question. By the way, you ask some very good questions!

It is true that it is not required to leave the family life in order to be a Buddhist. Being a Buddhist is just believing in the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) and observing the 5 precepts and living by Buddhist principles.

People become Buddhist monks for many reasons. I can't list them all, there are so many! Here are a few:

Poverty - monk life might be better than the life the already have
Heartbroken - trying to find a way to escape the heartbreak
Faith - such extreme faith that they can't help but ordain
Quest - searching for answers and hope that ordaining can give it to them
For parents - doing it as a repayment to parents for giving us life
Nibbana - for the fastest path to Nibbana
School - in some countries, schooling for monks/novices is free or very cheap

"What special thing does a Buddhist monk do that a layperson following the same path does not?"

It is the same answer as if I were to ask why a world class super skilled footballer (soccer player in USA) would join a professional team? Couldn't they just practice in their backyard and become the best in the world? They probably could. But by joining a professional team, they are surrounded by people who push and motivate them. They are surrounded by people who believe in the same things and goals. They have all the equipment and support needed for success all around them. Everything around them is gear and designed for their success. The skill level of the people around them is higher, thus pushing them to push their limits.

This is the same for ordination. In lay people life, there are too many distractions that can take us off the path. Too much food, music, fun, sex, entertainment, games, work, business, children, family....

By ordaining, we strip ourselves down to the minimum and it makes it so much easier to see our defilements when we are fighting over a seat instead of fighting over a company. We see our greed and attachment clearer when we have only 3 cloths instead of 3 closets full of clothes. It just makes life simpler for practice. Also, we are surrounded by rules and people who support and promote our spiritual advancement. As a layperson, we are not.

I hope I have answered your questions.  


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Anandapanyo Bhikkhu


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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