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
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.