Lay Buddhist

Legendary and historical figures

The word ‘lay’ (Gr. laikos, ‘belonging to the people of God’) has its roots in Christian terminology. It denotes a member of a congregation who undertakes no religious functions, i.e. someone who is not a monk, a nun, or a priest. The Buddhist community is similarly comprised of religious specialists – monks, nuns, teachers, and great masters – as well as laypersons (Skt. upasaka/ upasika, ‘he/she sitting here’). The latter ‘seek refuge’ through recitation of the Three Jewels and agree to abide by the Five Precepts: do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, do not engage in sexual misconduct, and do not use intoxicants.