I’ve written before about the distinction between Householders and Monks, but there’s a few ways of looking at this.
Classically there is the distinction in path. The way to God or source through acting in the world or withdrawing from the world. For the last over 1,000 years, the monk’s path has been more dominant in both the west and east.
This was due to the lowest part of the cycle of world consciousness. In the depths of the dark ages, it was typically necessary to withdraw from the mud of the world to make any spiritual progress. Thus, we saw a revival of the monastic tradition then. In India, this was through Shankara and the resulting Shankaracharya tradition. Several widespread teachings today are derived from this, including Deepak Chopra, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and TM.
But times have changed and there is a revival underway of the householders approach. It is no longer necessary to spend years in an ashram in India or similar to awaken. But there is still a lot of emphasis on renunciation in some circles. This is further emphasized by a focus on Shankara’s early teachings, before the divine unfolded more fully for him.
Secondly, the distinction is made in teachings on Dharma. Dharma is those actions in life which sustain. This is often codified in rules of behaviour, morality and such but is more deeply about being in the flow. ie: being naturally in tune with nature and the divine.
Dharma is taught in 4 layers – universal, family and social responsibility, time of life, and personal. Of note here is the third. Ashrama defines 4 life periods: study, work and family, winding down, and senior.
The work and family period is inherently a householders time of life – career and raising a family. The senior period is the time to withdraw from the world and develop internally – in other words, renunciation.
Thirdly is a new distinction Rose Rosetree has begun exploring. This is the difference in styles of living awake.
In an introduction to an article, she distinguishes between Householder enlightenment, where the human life is central and Simplicity, where consciousness is central.
I thought the distinction was interesting. I know several who developed a very simple life post-awakening that some might consider somewhat monkish. They may be married and home owners but live mostly devoted to unfolding further. Others I know are very active in their work and life and are more focused on that, with major unfolding coming as punctuation in their life rather than the focus.
Now – some of the first are also retired, so we might say are simply expressing that dharma. But that’s not at all universal. I can also note that those on a rapid path of unfolding stages may be inherently more focused on what is changing in consciousness than their outer life. But again, that’s not universal either and may simply be a phase. When things settle down, they may be back to a more outward stroke.
Further, the style that enlightenment brings with it may be much the same life unfolding in this new context. But sometimes it brings a different style of life with it, the old dismantling in the process of internal change. This may come as a need of the embodiment or to clear old karmic baggage.
In any case, what’s going to happen should not be a concern for you. You will be an observer of this unfolding, watching life flower in ways new and profound.