With the relevance of Western Culture on Tibetan Buddhism, I would put forth that the householder will gain a more prominent role. Not that some householders didn’t occupy a prominent space in the past - Marpa is an example. However, there is not an emphasis on monasticism in the West. Don’t get me wrong, the situation is not one role or another, it’s merely shifting cultural tides. The householder depends on the monastic and the monastic depends on the householder - the phenomenon arise together.

The End Game

Can a householder acheive enlightment in this life? I am hard pressed to say no - though, in going through some Google searches, it would seem (not surprisingly) the opinions cross the spectrum of Yes to No. Some say that only a true renuniciate; i.e., monastic, can hope to be enlightened in this life. Free from the attachments of a house, a spouse and children; free to focus entirely on religious matters. For me, I see no reason why such a life is not without the same perils, could one have the obstacle of attachment to the spiritual?

Perhaps living in a monastery does cut down on some obstacles; though - and maybe this is my own predjudice - do I want the obstacles removed that way. In fact all Buddhist traditions seem to have non-monastics that have reached the ineffable end game. If we look closer, there really doesn’t seem to be any reason, why any person in any walk of life could not acheive enlightenment.

The Obstacles are the Same

For me, I find the life of obstacles and the constant focus needed to move through them beneficial. I haven’t been able to find any qualatative difference from the obstacles I face in my practice, than the obstacles I face in my marriage, in being a father, in working; really just in life in general. Desire, restlessness, laziness, fear and doubt - each possess the qualities whether on my cushion or off. I would venture that the monastic encounters the same. We are all moving through samsara - we have all taken refuge, if there is to be any progress in whatever mode of life choosen, obstacles are in escapable.

When you do things, then obstacles will come and you can go through them. Obstacles are a sign of success. The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa