This question was posed to Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, a lineage holder of the Dzogchen tradition of Tibet. His response was as follows:

According to the sutric path of renunciation, the vows of a monastic are necessary supports on this path. If you are a householder, it is difficult to renounce because you are immersed in childrearing and commerce, and it is difficult to get rid of attachments. The monastic system is a beautiful and complete path for the one who enters it, but the path of renunciation is only one path.

According to the Dzogchen teachings, you can achieve full liberation in one lifetime regardless of whether you are male or female or live a lay or monastic lifestyle. Many realized masters and practitioners of the Dzogchen lineages were laypeople, both men and woman. Many have attained liberation from suffering through engaging wholeheartedly in the teachings of the Dzogchen lineages in the Bön and other Tibetan Buddhist schools. And many teachers and teachings exist that articulate a path to complete enlightenment for the layperson. These teachings have been successfully practiced for thousands of years and are now available in the West. Here, they are followed by mothers and fathers, lawyers and waiters, actors and artists, all dedicated practitioners who are intent on enlightenment for the benefit of others.

Half of my life I have been a monk, and half I have lived as a lay practitioner. Having a wife and child and living an engaged family life has greatly enriched my spiritual path. Please do not lose heart on your path. I encourage you to connect to your sincere wish to be free of suffering and to live a life that benefits others. Continue looking for a teacher and teachings that will support you to accomplish this.

Click here to read more from the article, which also includes the views of other Buddhist teachers.

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