Differences Between the Laity and Monastic Worshippers Within Buddhist Tradition

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The differences between the laity and monastic worshippers within Buddhist tradition are distinguished by the extent to which these two groups are willing to follow the middle-way as taught by Buddha. Typically, in order to have a functional Buddhist society, there must be the devout, and those who support the devout, giving aid in the form of food, monies, shelter, transportation, etc. The devout who sacrifice the purity of a true monastic lifestyle in order to support the community (who in turn are the recipients of merit or punya; a bank of ‘good’ actions tied to ‘good’ karma) (Gethin 101), from the monastic worshippers, are called the laity; upasakas (men laity) and upasikas (women laity). The monastics, or Bhikkhus (monks) and…show more content…
A worker who is willing to sacrifice right action ( a lay person deviating from the five precepts), is only doing so because of the “do-or-die” mentality enforced culturally. “Between 1980 and 1993 Fortune 500 firms increased their assets 2.3 times but shed 4.4 million jobs, while C.E.O. compensation increased more than sixfold” (Loy 71). The nature of capitalist revenue promotes neglect of personal morals (and the accumulation of merit) in favour of a new “marginally driven merit”, in effect purging the rite course of action (part of the ethical conflict, sila) (Gethin 108). Sexual misconduct within Buddhism holds deeper, lasting consequences than a traditional legal definition could ever attain. According to the Virginia State University legal definition of sexual misconduct (VSU), sexual contact without consent is the physical and literal depiction of what constitutes the act. Within Buddhism there is added the mental injury which is a matter of personal and public respect (Khoo), as well as power and domination imposition from a superior. Living in a society (especially a strictly monastic society) could lead to sexual experimentation prohibited in Buddhist conduct, and living as a lay person within a Buddhist society, one would realize the temptations experienced by the monastics and thus be put back along the right track. Right speech can lead to compassion and wrong speech can lead to abuse, in

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