Most people cannot live in the secluded setting of a monastery or retreat. Some Buddhist traditions nonetheless affirm that laypeople can become enlightened. Are there (inspiring) examples of such laypeople?

How (well) do so-called awakened spiritual/meditation masters function outside the seclusion of the monastic/retreat environments? Please give examples. (Only one comes to mind: Patrul Rinpoche).

  • 1
    Conversely, how many enlightened people do we ever hear about, not living a monastic or renunnciate life? Could there be a reason for that?
    – user8619
    Jul 6, 2018 at 3:57

4 Answers 4


I think to develop deep meditation, deep vipassana (insight), jhana, etc, a monastic setting is required so meditation can be practised full-time.

However, a person with keen insight, especially into impermanence, can easily attain stream-entry outside of a monastic setting.

Note: This does not apply to believers in reincarnation since they avoid the natural reality of the impermanence of life.

  • only the mundane, wordly parts of the Buddha's teachings (e.g. kamma, rebirth, mundane right view), not the teachings leading to total liberation, deal with "functioning" in the layperson's life. the Buddha taught the path leading to total liberation (which supramundane right view leads to) - which does not necessarily have to translate into worldly 'functioning' for material ends.
    – user8619
    Jul 5, 2018 at 4:35

Daniel Ingram claims (or claimed) to be an arahant. His site: http://integrateddaniel.info/

More on him in this thread, which mentions other enlightened people. https://www.reddit.com/r/Buddhism/comments/1tiy7o/dan_ingram_arahant_or_raving_manic_lunatic/

I can't say whether they are or aren't enlightened. From what I read, I doubt it.



...His mother, bitter, sent Milarepa to train in black magic, to wreak revenge on those who had blighted her life...

Then later in life he came to meet his teacher Marpa the translator

...he came to regret his actions, and looked for help in shedding the bad karma he had acquired during his vengeful adolescence...


He practiced this teaching at Somapuri, but when the monastery saw him take a female consort for the practice of union yoga, he was forced to quit the community.

Tilopa profited from his expulsion by travelling throughout India, searching out many teachers and learning their methods.


Several years later, at twenty-eight, his interests drew him to Nalanda University, near Pullahari, famous for its Buddhist philosophers...But then a dakini appeared to him, telling him that meditation practice was more important than philosophizing, and that he should search out a certain Tilopa for instructions.Leaving the monastery...

This is an entire lineage Tilopa->Naropa->Marpa->Milarepa

As they say :The truly enlightened are not necessarily very religious. Religon is a convienent description to take care of our fears, to passify us.

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    Answer would be better with links to sources or describing these persons.
    – user13375
    Jun 19, 2018 at 21:05

Ignition--starting of engine--running of the motor car. So if this ignition happens due to leaving incomplete in past life, issues making life uninterested, then be you are in monastery or at your home ,the engine starts and the motorcar runs towards destination of enlightenment. Now if ignition is absent ,then go on rubbing ,rubbing,rubbing until spark is produced. it can produce in a day or cant produce throughout life. In monastery ,where deliberation of practice is there, the rubbing process goes on . At least there is hope that some or other day the spark/ignition will produce.And when it happens ,the engine starts and the car runs towards enlightenment unless stopped by meting some accident or b/d of the engine.This i elaborated that the enlightenment can be attained anywhere but required is the above prerequisite.

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