Is a monastic, if unable to adjust to the practice in hardships, allowed to return to lay life? Is that going to be viewed as an act of shame?


When equipped with thorough understanding of monastic life before

leaving home to see the purport of its sentiments, initiation of

the bodhi mind to enable leaving home in mind and body, vigorous

abidance by the discipline, commitment in the march toward the great

path of bodhi, and prayer for early attainment of Buddhahood, nothing

about the practice in hardships could impede the aspirant. Look at

all sages, saints, and eminent monks of the past and all elders and

reverends of the present committed through decades to monastic life

and simple, noble practice. They are incomparably exemplary. But, a

monastic, if unable to adjust to the practice in hardships, is allowed

to report to the master, seeking to return to lay life, whilst confessing

to the sangha.

Leaving home is an act of a great zealous disciple, the kind one.

The prominent scholar-artist Li Shutong (1880-1942) rid himself of

all fame and fortune and left home to become a monk. He conducted

practice in hardships; he abided by the preceptive stipulations; he was

better known as vinaya master Hong-I, the eminent monk. Put another

way, though, his life was marked by the tatter he used for washing, the

broken umbrella he carried around, and the worn shoes on his feet.

Leaving home to practice in hardships is really no more than an

effective treatment to remove the three poisons of greed, anger,

and ignorance, enabling work and rest to stay on schedule and hence

life to be the lived to the benefit of own body and mind. Think thrice,

therefore, before thinking about the return to lay life. The flip side to

that is, before seeking to leave home, do not think about doing so on

the mere assumption of monastics seemingly basking in life' s comfort

and ease.

Leaving home though an act of the great zealous disciple, inability

to tackle the weight of trying circumstances impelling the decision of

returning to lay life is in itself beyond debate and certainly not going to

be viewed as one of shame. For, in picking up, there is putting down.

Be honest with causes behind the return to lay life, look reality in the

eye, and take no heed of harsh words. Then again, the flip side to

that is, before seeking to leave home, think thrice, think again, and

think with uber caution. Circumstances accommodating, love and desire

long severed, and preceptive conduct perfected, acknowledge it being

a great matter never to be rashly administered. And, having left home,

what else would suffice to be insufferable and what else would suffice

to be perturbing? Repent with consistence, pray with consistence to the

Buddhas and bodhisattvas for strength and support, and seek with

consistence added benefits from teachers and reverends. See results

in two or three years.