Over the past year, I’ve spent some time thinking about what it means to be a layperson. Growing up immersed in a a plethora of Buddhist traditions, many of my role models were ordained. I rarely found any laypeople I could emulate, and oftentimes, I wasn’t sure what it meant to be a good layperson.
I fell under the illusion that to contribute anything meaningful in Buddhism, I’d have to shave my head, wear patchy robes, and devote my entire life to it. As I approach my tenth year of receiving lay precepts, I wanted to reflect on these misconceptions and share my own experiences of being a layperson. I hope that this series will be helpful for those just getting started, or those who have had trouble finding their place within the Buddhist community.
Laypeople are crucial to the everyday operations of an active temple, and their contributions cannot be ignored. Being a lay Buddhist doesn’t mean turning Buddhism into your profession or expecting any sort of compensation or side-hustle from it, but rather dedicating as much energy and resources as you can to ensuring that the Buddha’s teachings will thrive for as long as possible.
I welcome any questions regarding lay practices and any issues that might be relevant to the lay experience. I hope you will be able to join me in this reflection and exploration.