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Alan

Why Lay Can Be More Beneficial?

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I can't really understand how becoming lay can help Dharma in any way? Something I don't get?

If you have not yet, you can read something here about that matter: blog: why lay Lama?

It's not the fact to become lay which automatically helps Dharma, of course. It depends on the reasons and the motivation behind giving back one's ordination. Below is part of an article which might answer your questions:

 

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* Rinpoche, why, after so many years, to give back your vows?

- I have been monk for 23 years, and I have seen several monks giving back their vows, often for the same reason (usually not for stealing or killing!). I told myself that I will never give back my vows, as being a monk is a very good protection for the mind, guideline for one's ethical life, and steps of the Buddha Himself. I became monk when I was 16, grew up with ordination, and frankly, I was feeling very good being a monk.

 

In 2007 a renowned Rinpoche, melong reader (who read in the mirror, divination method), advised me: "Now is the time to become a lay Lama. It will bring more benefit in the long run". It took me nearly a year to proceed, because a part of me wanted to stay monk, not fully understanding the choice to make.

Yet, it is clear that I am not a monk in a monastery, and my work is within the society since long, with a clear increase since I'm in Slovenia. The large majority of my students are not ordained, but live a society life, with sometime family and children. My activities are not only directed towards Buddhist people, but dedicated to as many beings as possible.

For many people -who are not Buddhist- monks are "not normal", they are trying to escape something, denying themselves, and often these people have in memory the actions of many Catholic priests and monks, who, unable to tame their mind and desire, have given into several types of abuses. It was clear that when stating I'm a monk, many people were hold back by a kind of imaginary wall.

I didn't mind this gap as long as my activities were more focus on monastery, India, etc. But since I understand that I can help in a wider way by being more concretely involved into the society, I have to find also the best means to be most efficient. This understanding, along with the advice of Lama Choedak Rinpoche, made me to step forward in that direction. I am not monk since May 2008.

Of course, a small part of me was sad to return my vows, after so many years. But, since I didn't give them back for any absurd reason, this small attachment went away.

 

* When a Lama gives back his ordination does he stop to be Lama or Rinpoche?

- No. If a Lama really deserve this titles, he will continue to work for the benefit of his students, and as many beings as possible, whatever status he will be in. I'm not monk, that's all; I continue my daily work for the Congregation I'm leading, and hopefully for many others projects and situations.

 

* What has changed in your life?

- So far, not much from my side. But I received a very positive feedback from many of my students, who understood my action, and felts in some way closer to my teachings. It's not really realistic if you want my opinion. Because I don't understand their life necessarily better now than when I was ordained. I've never been living in reclusion but active in many Dharma and humanitarian projects, in hospitals, conferences, and receiving many people for healing. So, very much in contact with the common daily life.

 

* You already had a kind of family life before

- Well, not in the married or couple life sense. But I did adopt a child over 9 years ago, and a second one 5 years ago. They are living with me, and I am taking care of them as a father, and mother. From that ongoing experience, I can understand better what parents are going through, surely. And I can see that many parents are more confident to listen my advises in that matter, knowing that I have children in my daily life. This has been part of my choice to give back ordination also. I could see how people were relating to me more closely when they knew I was having children. Something "normal" for them.

At this time, I am not yet in a relationship. This wasn't the goal of my change of status, so, no reason to rush into complications ;) But, this will take place when causes and conditions will be there. It shall be part of my practice, not based on desire and attachments.

 

* Can a Rinpoche loves?

- It's a word which covers so many meaning! From loving a person, to loving food, through loving some situations. And also not all Rinpoche are equal in their spiritual realization, and way to lead their mind.

In the common sense, love is connected with attachments and desire, while the Teachings of the Buddha help us to tame the mind, and get rid of attachments, source of much suffering. So, shall a Rinpoche give into attachments? No, he shall not. Now, shall always a relation be based on love and attachments? Also no.

Understanding how karma works, and also the various ways to benefit beings, an advanced Buddhist practitioner can engage consciously and wisely in a relationship with a partner. Karmic bounds are expressing themselves into the relationship in a very conventional way, and a loving and affectionate relation can take place, similar in all appearance with a common love. But the mind and motivation are different.

 

* Did some people criticise your choice?

- Not openly at least. People around me did understand well it seems. Some, not in close relation, didn't understand it, might have thought that I gave back my monk life for ordinary reasons. Well, I have nothing to justify, but I did explain as I could. Further than that, it's their own mind.

 

* Your activities have changed?

- Yes. We can see clearly that since I'm lay, the activities have widened. More direct contacts with the society; less resistance from people. I can see the benefit. And I think it's only a beginning :)

 

* Any regret?

- Not regarding ordination, not really. Though, a part of me would appreciate to still be monk, and live in a monastery, far in mountain, to deepen some of my practices. To be with people around can be very nice, and I know I can help a lot this way; but a part of me is a solitary meditator. For many years, I didn't find the time to do long retreats, and taking care of children and a young Congregation doesn't really allow this for the moment. I hope time will come; may be when I'll be an old grandpa!

But also this, I don't regret, I know it's my way to be living like this, and do develop my practice immersed in the society. Once, I was explaining my wish to do more solitary retreats to a friend monk, and he told me: "what are you complaining about, you are in constant Bodhicitta retreat!". That was nicely said :)

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