About the Book
What is the status of laity in Buddhism? Can a lay-Buddhist attain Nirvana? This question has been a matter of discussion among scholars for long. In this study, the author, after examining all the original sources, shows that lay-life IS no impediment in realizing Nirvana. He asserts that the Buddha preached the same Dhamma to all, and all His disciples - monks, nuns, laity - had also an equal opportunity to enter, walk and attain the blessed state of Nirvana the highest spiritual goal in Buddhism. That many laity had actually done so in the past is more than evident from numerous references in the Pali scriptures.
Since most of the sermons of the Buddha, embodied in the Pali Tripitaka, are addressed to the bhikkhus, some critics of Buddhism allege that Buddhism as a religion is primarily meant for those who renounce the life of a householder and take to the life of a relcuse by joining the Sangha, and not for those who continue to live an ordinary life. There can be nothing absurd than this. The Buddha had naturally to address His discourses to the bhikkhus as they, being His constant companions, were always closeby, and were also devoting fully to the religious life. But that does not mean that what the Buddha preached was meant for the monks only. What the Buddha preached, applied to all.
The Buddha had taken upon Himself a mission of guiding the suffering humanity on the Righteous Path, and showing them the way to salvation, the Nirvana. In doing so, the Blessed One showed boundless compassion, and made no distinction whatsoever-Not only He preached the same Dhamma to all but all His disciples-monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen - had also an equal opportunity to enter and walk the path, and attain the blessed state of Nirvana. That many lay Buddhists had actually done so in the past is more than evident from numerous references in the Pali scriptures to men and women who, while leading normal family lives, successfully practised the Dhamma, and realized Nirvana.
This study is designed to show that lay-life is no impediment in realizing Nirvana, the highest and ultimate goal in Buddhism. To do so effectively, the study has been divided into seven specific chapters: Buddha’s Concept of the Laity, What is Nirvana?, The Path to Nirvana, Can a lay Buddhist attain Nirvana, The Lay Disciples of the Buddha, The Bhikkhu- Sangha and the Laity, and the Bodhisattva Ideal in Theravada and Mahayana. Three important sermons of the Buddha wherein the Blessed one has specifically prescribed the social and ethical principles for the laity have also been added as an appendix.
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