Jul 27th, 2011
That's an image of the lay master Vimalakīrti in his sick bed where, amid his physical illness and infirmity (or the appearance thereof), he expounds the teachings of Emptiness to the Great Arhats and Bodhisattvas, giving each a run for their money in his powerful expression of Dharma.
And money is something that Vimalakīrti has loads of, though he uses it for good and to aid those in need. He does not hide from the world, but rather is described as practicing and realizing enlightenment right at home with wife and kids, and through his business ownership. He'd go anywhere to teach, from the government offices of the great ministers to schools to shops to bar rooms and brothels. While in the world "although he had a wife and children, yet he was chaste in action ... although he ate and drank like others, what he truly savored was the joy of mediation."
For obviously reason, the story of Vimalakīrti has been popular with those espousing the power of lay practice through the centuries.
Taigen Dan Leighton writes, in his wonderful book Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and their Modern Expression ...
Vimalakirti practiced as a layman amid the delusions of the world, without being ensnared by them. ... Vimalakirti in all his activities embodies the Mahayana view of being in the world but not of it [and in fact] a central point of the Vimalakirty Sutra is that the bodhisattva can only awaken in the context of intimate contact and involvement with the follies and passions of the world and its beings. ... Bodhisattvas can develop only through fully entering, before transcending, the turbulent seas of passions and delusions.
Vimalakirti even denies the necessity of "home leaving" or retreat to a monastery (a subject of some discussion these days) in order to truly "leave home" ...
Vimalakirti's critiques express his special commitment to lay practice as a bodhisattva model. Many of his comments and admonitions involve the tendency of the disciples to withdraw from engagement with the ordinary world. He criticizes priestly roles and religious trappings for masking inauthenticity of practice or interfering with the full development of spiritual potential of common people.
Home/office/factory/nursery/jail or city streets are each our "monastery" when perceived as such.
Today’s Sit-A-Long video follows at this link. Remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells; a sitting time of 15 to 35 minutes is recommended.