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Shelter vs. home
August 13th, 2014

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Shelter vs. home

   There's an insistence in Buddhism on "leaving home", but "leaving home" is not merely "changing / switching home"… so, "leaving home" is not equivalent to joining a monastery (
   Unfortunately, many monastics develop conceit after joining the orders, based on the delusion that they left home and the opinion that they thus are superior to householders (who supposedly didn't leave home); this is an illusion of superiority ( Meanwhile, many householders imagine that, if only they could join a monastery, their practice would be so much stronger… and thus justify not practising so strongly right now, postponing the effort until more favourable circumstances are met…

   "Leaving home" is not merely "changing / switching home," it's not a mere change in circumstances.

   To go further, one might remember the "four requisites" (clothing, food, shelter  and medicine… that alms provide to monastics and teachers [assuming the general population sees value in keeping these guides and inspirational figures around, and doesn't fall in the delusion that 'others' will/should pay for it]).

   A "shelter" is not "home".

   A "shelter" becomes a "home" when one starts taking it for granted.

   A "shelter" becomes a "home" when "habit" replaces true "appreciation" of the protection here&now… It becomes a home when one projects "I'll come back to this,"  i.e. permanency (of oneself and  of the place).

   It's easy to see how a monastery can become a new "home": the ordinary mind turns it into a stable, 'reliable' place (possibly endowed of other traits, such as a 'reliable' teacher or 'satisfactory' community), falling for the classical samsaric delusion denying the unsatisfactoriness and unreliability of phenomena (i.e. dukkha).
   Some traditions encourage monastics to regularly travel from monastery to monastery, or to live in forests, in an attempt to avoid this projection. But even then, there's the risk of the "world" becoming "home": one might still take for granted some aspects of the world, one might still build a house of certainties (e.g. the existence of a saṃgha; e.g. the generosity of monastics is necessarily manifested as spreading the Dharma, not rice)!

   A "shelter" becomes a "home" when one starts taking it for granted.

   Thus, some householders "left home" even if they still live in an apparently stable family in an apparently stable dwelling… They "left home" by no longer  taking relationships and phenomena for granted; they practice "embodied gratitude" instead.

   Just like love is often confused with a conditioned clinging, gratitude is easily confused with a manifestation of clinging to, or attempting to perpetuate, what's pleasurable. Gratitude is easily thought of as a conditioned phenomena, unworthy of the quest for unconditioned Liberation, but it doesn't have to be; gratitude is found on par with a pāramī (Perfected quality) in AN 2.118:
   « These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done. »
   Gratitude is a gate to mindfulness: if you cultivate a wholesome gratitude, then you pay attention to what to be thankful for… By doing so, you become a lot more able to control mental proliferations (e.g. about how 'terrible' your life is, as soon as something is unpleasant; or e.g. about how you 'owe' your success only to yourself)! This is a great gate, to realise impermanence, to realise selflessness, to realise how clinging leads to suffering, and even to start manifesting the unconditioned traits of the buddha-mind (more at 

   A "shelter" becomes a "home" when one appropriates it: "my shelter"…

   For the householder who "left home", one's dwelling is appreciated as a shelter, without the appreciation turning into clinging… This means the protection this shelter offers is happily shared with others: we again meet a pāramī (Perfected quality) and not the least, the first  pāramī of generosity!  [And if the world is our shelter, sharing it includes welcoming people with other views (even ignorant views that call for further education…); it includes mobilising one's community to protect minorities; it includes sharing resources (all of them, starting with the "four requisites")…]

#Buddhism   #Dharma  
photo from Meeting Taiwan's new-age Buddhists (