Perhaps ritual isnt the right word but hopefully I can explain. So I am attracted to orthodox Christianity and its culture but I dont believe any of it. I like its fasting ritual many of its holidays, its worship and etc. and being in the west its easy to find like minded people to make that a part of my life or rather part of my practice. Buddhism by oneself is basically reading suttas and meditation since there is no local sangha but I find I would like to integrate more in my life so I can inundate my existance around buddhism without monasticism. I cant become a monk I have a wife and children. Is there anything like a Buddhist lifestyle beyond the 5 precepts for laypeople to follow to make it more "holy"?


5 Answers 5


There is Uposatha, a day of observance and an opportunity for increased practice. Lay people take on extra precepts to live more closely to the life of an arahant. Uposatha is typically observed based on the lunar calendar so at least twice a month on the new moon and full moon. Some people observe Uposatha more frequently. Suttas AN 8.41, AN 3.70, and AN 10.46 are about Uposatha.

Ideally you take the eight precepts from a monk. This could be done online. If that isn't possible, read the eight precepts out loud to yourself the morning of uposatha. Then the morning after uposatha, read the five precepts out loud to yourself. This replaces the eight.

An explanation of the eight precepts.



Holly buddhist life starts with Uposatha-Sila (8), and not only many many monks, even the Sublime Buddha, had wife, child, and often more to give up than common men. There is less holly in common life while going after sensual pleasures and gains of own kind, or?


I think those who stay in Theravada countries (Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar) could give better info. I don't.

However, as far as I know there are the following events or rituals for lay persons:

  • Ceremony to undertake the 5 precepts and take the 3 refuges, administered by a monk
  • Uposatha every new moon and full moon at least, where the 8 precepts are followed
  • Daily chanting of various verses like the 3 refuges
  • Daily short periods of meditation or study of scripture
  • Giving alms to monks who are on their alms round, or giving them food in the monastery
  • Charity to the monastery
  • Giving the gift of a robe at the Kathina Festival
  • Vesak Day festival at the temple
  • Getting a monk to chant or bless, for various reasons like moving into a new home or getting married

Maybe there are more, but I don't know these very well.


As Anāthapiṇḍika the householder lay deathly ill, he asked Sariputta and Ānanda about how to train:

MN143:4.9: I’m not keeping well, Master Sāriputta, I’m not alright. The pain is terrible and growing, not fading, its growing, not its fading, is evident.”
MN143:5.1: “That’s why, householder, you should train like this:
MN143:5.2: ‘I shall not grasp the eye, and there shall be no consciousness of mine dependent on the eye.’
(omitted for brevity...)

Astounded at this teaching, Anāthapiṇḍika wept and said:

MN143:15.1: When he said this, Anāthapiṇḍika cried and burst out in tears.
MN143:15.2: Venerable Ānanda said to him,
MN143:15.3: “Are you failing, householder? Are you fading, householder?”
MN143:15.4: “No, sir.
MN143:15.5: But for a long time I have paid homage to the Buddha and the esteemed mendicants.
MN143:15.6: Yet I have never before heard such a Dhamma talk.”
MN143:15.7: “Householder, it does not occur to us to teach such a Dhamma talk to white-clothed laypeople.
MN143:15.8: Rather, we teach like this to those gone forth.”

Householder Anāthapiṇḍika then implored:

MN143:15.9: “Well then, Master Sāriputta, let it occur to you to teach such a Dhamma talk to white-clothed laypeople as well!
MN143:15.10: There are gentlemen with little dust in their eyes. They’re in decline because they haven’t heard the teaching.
MN143:15.11: There will be those who understand the teaching!”

So if one seeks more than Buddhist rituals, then perhaps MN143 may be of interest.


I actually asked myself the same question. However, in my case I wasn't raised christian. I was catholic for four years of my adult life and left since I never been raised to believe there was a creator (and any religion that included one). But, like you, I really do like the rituals involved which are absent since I don't live close to a monastery either.

This will be a bit long, but here is what I've done. My post comes from this insight: Gradual Instruction (Accesstoinsight)

Just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch, in the same way this Doctrine and Discipline (dhamma-vinaya) has a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual progression, with a penetration to gnosis only after a long stretch. -Ud 5.5

The Buddha originally taught to monks before layman. So, majority of his teachings are either spoken by The Buddha himself or one of his disciplines-Ananda, Sariputra, and so forth. The first of the gradual training is practicing generosity.

  1. I started off with practice in generosity by keeping different smaller suttas in mind. For example, if I want to give to someone less fortunate (we have a lot of people who are here), then I would think of this:

"He who himself enjoys delicious things but gives to others what is not delicious is a donor who is a slave to the gifts he gives. He who gives things of the same quality as he himself enjoys is one who is like a friend of the gift. He who satisfies himself with whatever he can get but gives delicacies to others is a lordly giver, a senior and a master of the gifts given (On Dana I can't find the sutta reference)."

I ask: Am I giving I asked myself-am I being a slave to this gift (or intention), a friend to it, or a lordly giver? If I'm the first two, I don't give charity. If I'm the latter normally I feel at peace. Of course if you only have 100 for the rest of the month and you give 99, it serves its purpose but then it's not practical. So best not give then give half heartedly.

So you can start with generosity-doing things for others and yourself (don't forget) that develop wholesome qualities of body, speech, and mind. Also, be mindful that your intentions count as well. So, if you say thank you but in your head you don't mean it, it doesn't "count." I also read from a commentary that many western buddhists (or I'll rather say those unfamiliar to Buddhism westerner or not) neglect the need of merit. Generosity increases our merit. Increasing our merit leads to better rebirth eventually leading to wisdom and end of suffering.

The idea is when your main goal is to have peace of mind, clarity, and wisdom before you die. The point is to stop rebirth. The idea in the first part is to develop serenity of mind through practice of generosity and discipline. And when one finally gets to work with a monastic and good meditation work into wisdom such as knowledge of the four noble truths and so forth.

  1. Another thing I do is, of course, meditation. However, it doesn't need to be just sitting and breathing. You can start off with loving kindness meditation or better yet, with every generous deed you do, reflect on it in your meditation and from that peace feeling give love and kindness to yourself and others. Watching Dhamma talks on it helps a lot.

  2. The Buddha also says that layman would find it highly beneficial, if not should, take time out on the full moon (new moon, and half moons) to follow the Uposatha Observance.

What I do, instead of doing all eight precepts at once, I pick one to do and work from there. For example, I do five minute meditations in the morning. On full moon days I'll attempt to do an hour (it worked, actually). I'll try to not eat after 12 but for some reason the computer screen pulls me so I haven't found out how to drop that for the day especially since I don't work at the moment.

  1. Another thing you can do, from a study perspective, is to get a notebook. I have the physical AN book (and would like to get all the nikayas) and started from the first sutta, summarize it, and then right an application or what I can do during the day based on that sutta. The only downfall with that is all the suttas pretty much end up saying the same thing, so getting different perspectives and cross referencing helps.

  2. Lastly, get to know The Buddha. I know we can give respect to The Buddha, Dhamma,and Sangha, but what does that actually mean?

Read AN 3:39 on why and how The Buddha went into homelessness and you can also read his first discourse. I watched this Dhamma Talk on YouTube The Life of the Buddha a week ago, it was excellent. Food for thought.

Try to relate to The Buddha. List some of your sufferings and link them to what may be causing them say greed, hatred, or ignorance. Then use The Dhamma as a guide to help with these things from the root.

As for actually doing all I mentioned above? It's a work in progress.

Just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch, in the same way this Doctrine and Discipline (dhamma-vinaya) has a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual progression, with a penetration to gnosis only after a long stretch. -Ud 5.5

Side note: If you look up different "scriptural journal" ideas on YouTube and/or scriptural methods of study (say SOAP method) you can translate these ideas and methods into study of the Dhamma. I do this and try to get the overall theme unless they are focused on scripture verse study itself more so than organization and planning.

That, and I didn't go back to completely edit all of this since I was back and forth and all. I usually go back and edit if I see something pop out.

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