Q & A
Q: Do Buddhist monks lead an idle life?
A: Buddhist monks and nuns do not lead idle lives as how they are depicted in some films and TV series. If you see an "idleness" in them, maybe that's because that their attitudes towards the five desires are different from others: they have such a pure mind that they can maintain composure and cannot be perturbed by distracting elements. Nevertheless, in their minds and actions, they still diligently and constantly seek the Buddha's path and save sentient beings.
Q: I don't understand why "the Buddha and the Dharma could not pass on and thrive without the Sangha". Buddhism holds that all sentient beings are equal, doesn't it? Buddha is an enlightened person. Can those who are not in the Sangha never be able to achieve enlightenment?
A: It is true that each individual has the Buddha nature and can become a Buddha, who is an enlightened person. This is from the perspective of practicing Buddhism and seeking enlightenment as an individual. Therefore, the accumulation and acquirement of merit and wisdom can be achieved by both the monastics and the lay people. However, given the perpetuation of Buddhism in the world, it must rely on the Sangha to pass on the Dharma.
Q: If "the Buddha and the Dharma could not pass on and thrive without the Sangha, and the Sangha could not be established without precepts", is it still not free from attachment?
A: Many people believe that the Dharma requires people to drop all the discrimination and detachment unconditionally. This understanding is influenced by the spirit of Chan that has widely spread in China. But one should know that the devoid of discrimination is based on the understanding and realisation of emptiness, without which one is apt to be misled by the clinging to emptiness as a real thing.
Q: Lay practitioners can also achieve the goal of attaining enlightenment and benefiting living beings, can't they? Why can't they strike the balance between the two?
A: The pursuit of everyone is not the same. "The Two Jewels, i.e., the Buddha and the Dharma, could not pass on and thrive without the Sangha." Monks and nuns shoulder the responsibility of maintaining Buddhism. If there were no monks and nuns, Buddhism could not be passed down.
Source: Microblogs of Ven. Master Xuecheng
Translated by: Beijing Longquan Monastery Translation Center