Can I Reach Enlightenment If I Have Family?

There is no doubt that it is easier to meditate all day when we live in a monastery. But, while meditation is essential for understanding the mind and the nature of consciousness, that’s not all there is to reaching our ultimate potential.

We humans forget that we are spiritual beings, but we also like to forget that we are animals. We have innate social drivers and a desire to procreate. We don’t just crave food and water, we crave companionship and community too.

Maintaining close, loving, messy relationships are spiritual practices. They expand our patience even further than meditation alone. They are where we put our love and compassion into practice.

So, which path is right for you? Let’s explore.

Can an Enlightened Person Have Children or Relationships?

It is one thing to be at peace in the solitude of a cave. It is quite another to remain mindful and at peace on two hours of sleep with screaming toddlers vomiting on your favorite shirt. I would argue that the latter is a more sturdy and strong kind of presence and peace.

It’s one thing to be at peace among the kindness of fellow monks. It’s quite another to stay peaceful when our spouse is blaming us for something, or when a fellow driver is screaming obscenities at us. But again, which peace is true and lasting, tried and tested?

For these reasons, we can reach much deeper levels of peace and joy when we put our practice to the test every single day.

Even a monk will face old age and death. There is no way to fully avoid stress and pain. All we can do is put our whole presence into whatever we end up choosing to do.

Can An Enlightened Person Have A Job?

There is a fallacy that people new to spirituality believe. Novices tend to believe they need to perfect their circumstances in order to reach enlightenment.

But when we obsess over what happens around us, we are blaming the world for our inner condition. When we move up the spiritual ladder, we realize that our inner life is entirely our own responsibility. The world around us will always be chaotic, but we are always in control of our inner world.

Instead of blaming others for our anger or sadness, we must look within, whether we’re in a monastery or in an office.

Yes, long working hours can make setting time aside for meditation and spiritual learning difficult. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Obstacles make us stronger. Challenges make us grow. To carve out time in a busy schedule devoted to personal growth makes that hard-fought time even more special and valuable. You can be a beacon of hope and light for the people close to you.

We all mindlessly waste so much time in our day. We really don’t have to go off into a forest or cave to find the time to dedicate to our spiritual growth. We simply have to become more mindful of the time we do have.

Do I Have to Go Live in a Monastery or Cave to Become Enlightened?

This is a personal choice at the end of the day. We thrive whenever we follow our heart.

The world needs the monks and monasteries — these keepers of wisdom and their sanctuaries from the chaotic cities.

Becoming a monk is certainly not for everyone, which is a good thing! The human species would die off if we all became celebate.

But some people are called to live a life of devotion and to provide respite for weary souls. It isn’t about not working, not having relationships, or selfishly living alone. It is about how best we can each serve this world and future generations. And thank God/the universe that there are these special, selfless souls in the world who pass on this sacred wisdom.

What Would the Buddha Think?

The Buddha did leave his family to go learn the way to end suffering for future generations. But he did not learn that everyone needs to leave their family. He learned a path designed to help us be the best parents, citizens, neighbors, sons and daughters we could be.

His sacrifice was so that future generations would not have to make the same sacrifice he did.

What Does Todd Do?

I live life as a city monk. I have close personal relationships, I have daily work stresses, but I make my life as peaceful as a monk. I allow for time to meditate, slow down, and read spiritual texts.

I refrain from excessive materialism. I abstain from drugs and alcohol because it keeps me from the chaotic highs and lows that I used to be consumed by. I try to live honestly and with compassion because it makes my life more peaceful.

So for me, my life may be more peaceful in a monastery, but it is more meaningful to work and to maintain loving relationships in the chaos and messiness of our global community.

Being Enlightened in the Real World

Remember, the more you grow and the better you get, the smaller and crueler people in this world can appear. But keep growing and your disappointment will turn into genuine compassion.

Trees may look small compared to the giant sequoias, but that never stopped them from growing. They just planted seeds so they’d have friends.

Help others grow, surround yourself with like-minded growers, and don’t look down on the little guys. We were all tiny saplings at one point ourselves.

Go on a journey to conquer your fear of death, find the courage to face life head on, and bask in the oneness of our universe. In the book, Death, Life and Oneness, find ancient healing wisdom for our modern chaotic times.

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Question Answered in This Blog:

Q: Dear Todd, if we have family, friends, and relationships can we also reach Enlightenment/Self-Realization? Can we have both?