It is possible that through my actions in reading Śāntideva and his Bodhisattva Vow that I have, in effect, taken that vow in this lifetime. It is also possible that I took a similar vow in two of my previous lifetimes. Two of these lives were monastic. This one is not.
It is a moot point as to whether running away from biological function to be a monk is the best way to overcome it. This kind of denial causes problems in many churches. Stuff gets bottled up and not faced. It can be dangerous. It is a tad absolute.
There are a lot of challenges in trying to relate to another human being in an intimate relationship, a good testing ground if you like. It is harder to put into practice in the middle of a “domestic”.
The basic tenets of Buddhism are inconsistent with modern day grasping hedonistic materialism and this bizarre notion of vacuous self-obsessed influencing. If one is striving to become detached and non-attached, that is the antithesis of aquistional materialism. If one sees glamours like kudos and power as impermanent, why would one even bother to chase after them? Some people think you should.
People can be very ambitious to self-advance and rely on this quality being present in others in order to facilitate socio-political negotiations. I don’t really want my back scratched so there is no incentive for me to scratch yours…It does not always work.
It is possible that many people only pay lip service to the religion or philosophy to which they publicly subscribe. The application of tenets is only so far, full attainment rare. There is much social benefit in church or sangha. And that is a good thing.
I’ll posit that although I could have a conversation about non-linear optics with an academic or a laser jock, our orientation towards life would likely be vastly different. If I said that to the other person, they would not know how different. He/she might assume marginal difference within their social conditioned world framing. But I know how radically different my outlook is. Even if I tried to get this across, I would fail.
I call this the Levi’s and robe problem.
Because I wear Levi’s, drink wine and eat steak, it is unlikely that people would accept that I have attained impermanence and to a very large degree detachment. If I wore a monk’s robe it would be less of a perceptual stretch.
People have preconceived ideas about what a perhaps, evolved being, might look like and how they might behave.
Is this my Ego talking, look at me aren’t I clever?
You can make your own mind up. I am not interested in being right nor arguing the toss. I don’t do petty nit picking to score points.
There is a phenomenon which I think of as inverted Ego. It is a close relative of inverted snobbery. People feign a humility which they do not possess in order to look good in front of their peers. I also call this religious top trumps. I did a 3 year silent retreat at “The Priory”. People can be holier than thou…
Siddhartha favoured the middle path. Which might well mean living a pretty “normal” existence without ostentation and excess: not self-flagellating nor overly blowing one’s own trumpet. That middle path is not about power over any other beings, trying to beat others, being avaricious and envious. That path would recognise that imperfection is a quality of all of humanity and would not seek to judge. It would certainly not include obsession about the appearance of the carnate form.
It would see beyond doubt that there is only ONE humanity of which we are all part.
It is about satisfaction and enough. It is about fulfilling genuine needs only and not wants and desires. The middle path does not understand greed.
Here are some questions:
What do you own?
What are your possessions?
Are you in fact possessed by what you consider to be your possessions?
Does your aquisitional materialism have you enslaved?