Why Be Monastic?

Time and again people ask us, “Why on earth would you want to be monastic?  Are you trying to escape from the world, or what?”

481567479-56a0c46d3df78cafdaa4d775Becoming a monk or a nun is a vocation.  It’s a calling from Divine Spirit to lead a life of prayer, immersion in the dharma teachings of a spiritual pathway, and an opportunity to live in community.  Living in a monastic community means living with people who may, or may not, be your friends, which then creates an opportunity for acceptance and compassion. Monastic community creates a society dedicated to the common purpose of thinking, praying, meditating, working, and living for the benefit of all beings.

True Prayer and meditation is the ability to harness Divine Mind (the One Mind) to declare and know healing, peace, light, harmony, generosity, and compassion for the needs of others.  The monastic life requires hours of focused attention to being awake in the moment.  When we are awake in the moment it’s possible to choose compassion, kindness, generosity, fearlessness, and hope.

suffering.jpg.e0ba387663cfd689d3b50b560c59a3e0Every day billions of humans on this planet are THINKING!  They are thinking into the One Mind of infinite possibilities.  And from all that thinking decisions are made.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the majority of humans are putting into the One Mind, and into action.  We see it in the news, on Facebook, and in the public marketplace.  Anger, hatred, contempt, despair, hopelessness, violence, and domination are the ugly manifestations millions of humans are constantly projecting into One Mind, no wonder the spiritual teachers tell us this world is hell.  No wonder so many are suffering.

Yes, there are good people, kind people, and generous people everywhere!  But even good people are often filled with anger and despair at the state of the world.  Stress and anxiety has been determined to be the number one disease of the 21st century.

Monastics train, daily, hourly, to send thoughts of loving kindness, peace, healing, and compassion into the One Mind generator of action.  It is a life dedicated to creating light in the darkness of world mind.  Throughout the ages humble souls, dedicated souls, sensitive and generous souls have given up the things of the world (money, possessions, power, prestige, family, and relationships) to devote their lives to prayer, meditation, and service to those in need.

Monks and nuns do not run away from the world.  They chose to renounce ordinary life and enter a world of devotion, to become a Bodhisattva in hell.  Perhaps we should honor their courage, their sacrifice, their unremitting determination to free all beings from suffering!

light-in-the-dark-13lviur

Practical Duality or Delusional Duality

dualityWhen we incarnate we enter a world of duality, an experience of separation.  In a realistic sense this is important.  We are able to recognize objects, people, and animals as distinct from ourselves, we interact with our environment and the entities and objects within that environment.  We learn that fire burns, animals can bite, and rocks are hard.  We also learn more subjective identifications such as- good and bad; right and wrong; happy and sad; beautiful and ugly.  Duality is the existence of pairs of opposites.

In metaphysical spirituality, we are taught to strive for oneness with all things, to let go of separation, and understand that we are interdependence upon one another.  Teachings often speak of the importance of emptiness, that thoughts and things do not have independent origin but arise from other things.  Sometimes we are told that this world is a delusion and that nothing that happens here matters because we are destined for heaven, nirvana, enlightenment, and bliss.

Left or right on handsDuality is both illusion and reality.  How can that be?  Well, let’s take a pragmatic approach.  In life on a day to day basis it’s important to know left from right, up from down, forward from back, hot from cold, and open from closed.  If we can’t tell left from right or up from down we have a cognitive disability.  If we can’t distinguish between hot and cold we can injury ourselves physically.  It’s also helpful to know if a door is open or closed.  So, duality in this respect, has a utilitarian functionality.  Even fully enlightened beings still need to maneuver in daily life, just like everyone else.

Then, there is the duality of Delusion.  This can be extremely subtle and is the true cause of suffering.  Great Spiritual Teachers have told us that suffering has a cause and discovering that cause allows us to find the path to liberation from suffering.  The duality of delusion arises from opinion, beliefs, attitudes, and judgments.  For example:  good and evil, right and wrong, neat and messy, beautiful and ugly, whole and broken, or happy and sad, man and woman, us and them, etc.

'Cleanliness is next to 'clean room' in the dictionary.  Look it up.'I am not saying we shouldn’t have opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and discernments.  What we want to examine is how some of these things lead to suffering for ourselves and contribute to the suffering of others.  Let’s start with neat and messy.  As a child, or as a parent, we were probably exposed to this concept.  If the parent has a standard of neatness that has to be met…or else.  What happens?  Angry words.  Tears.  Resentment.  Feelings of not being loved.  All of these are a cause of suffering.

In relationships, these delusional dualities or opinions can cause tremendous suffering.  Example:  A young married couple with two small children appear to be very happy together.  The husband works hard and long hours so that his beloved can stay home and care for their two young children, keep the hearth, and make a home just like in his childhood.  The wife is happy to be with the children and loves her home.  She’s grateful that her dream is possible and she doesn’t have to leave her children with strangers.  Then, one day both children become ill, and she also becomes ill.  She isn’t getting any sleep, can’t eat, and needs help from her husband.  He becomes angry and storms out of the house and doesn’t come back for a few days.  This is the duality called wife and husband.  Both those words have a world of idea, belief, and story behind them.  Our ideas work as long as other factors don’t come into play.  But other factors have a way of showing up.  The result?  Suffering!

One more example:  I work hard for a living, seeing people, problem solving, organizing events, and serving my spiritual community.  Therefore, my delusional belief is to come home to a neat and tidy house.  That is a neat and tidy house according to my programmed, conditioned expectations.  Sometimes that just doesn’t happen.  Irritation, self-pity, and entitlement creep into my thoughts.  If I share those thoughts everyone is challenged.  If I don’t then only I am challenged.  But this is suffering and for what?  Because things were not the way my judgement-self thought they should be?

wallpaper-2450469Liberation from suffering comes when I am able to see through the delusion of what should be and allow myself to be OK with what is at the moment.  Watching thoughts, we begin to see our aversion and attractions: I like it, I don’t like it; It should be, it shouldn’t be, and on, and on, and on.

But we do not need to decide for the whole world what beauty is, what happiness is, what love is, what the correct dress or behavior is, or any other ideal that is only a matter of opinion or cultural conditioning.  Let us strive to recognize our causes of suffering and let go of the wheel of fire. Liberation awaits those willing to release attachment to delusional duality!

 

Bodhisattva

CompassionEL-WordleThe purpose of the spiritual path is to understand Spirit’s story.  The Divine Story is greater than individual truth.  Our life story is the myth we tell ourselves to explain how things got to be the way they are now.  Divine Spirit’s story is about creating a life of love, joy, peace, and abundant life.  Until we dwell in Divine Spirit’s story, we dwell in samsara.  Samsara is the process of making choices from aversion or attraction, desire, obsession, and selfishness.

All spiritual masters and teachers have given the commandment to love one another and to love Divine Spirit above all else.  But, because there is a need to justify our involvement in samsara- students change Spirit’s story to a justification for anger, sexual misconduct, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and being authentic and honest while spewing cruel remarks onto others.  Thus we find those who claim to love Spirit but believe that war, vengeance, and violence is necessary.  Divine Spirit has no enemies.  Spirit’s mercy says, “I do not remember that you have ever offended me.” The true path of Spirit does not massage the ego nor does it make excuses for self-indulgent behavior that causes harm in the life of other beings.

Vows of the Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva means one who chooses the Light.  It is the consciousness of evolving ourselves in a Great Being.  In soul we hold the possibilities of perfect love, peace, and joy.  The vows of the Bodhisattva are our promise to bring more of these possibilities to the world.

130I vow to liberate myself and all beings from suffering.
I vow to destroy all evil passions and seek only the good.
I vow to know the truth, manifest the truth, and become the truth.
I vow to live a life of forgiveness, atonement, compassion, and sacrifice.

I vow to destroy all evil passions and seek only the good.

Evil is deliberately creating harm to ourselves or another.  Once we know a particular energy causes pain and we continue clinging to that energy we are deliberately creating evil.  All of us do this with our favorite hell story.  We claim the emotions involved are something over which we have no control.  We know it hurts us and others but we repeat it anyway.

What if we replace our pain-filled thoughts with other energy.  When the pain story arises, stop; distract yourself.  Focus on your gifts, on what you like about yourself.  Use the tools you have to rid yourself of obsession.

I vow to liberate myself and all beings from suffering.

compassionLiberating ourselves may seem endless because liberation is a process.  We always have a choice between anger, fear, pain, and grief and love, joy, peace, life, and light.  We need to create habituated liberation.  Which means we free ourselves into kindness, generosity, and determination over, and over, and over again.

Bodhisattvas incarnate until all beings are liberated from suffering.  Children born with diseases and disabilities are all bodhisattvas who chose to incarnate to take on the suffering of others.  What are you here to do?  The vows of the Bodhisattva are an aspiration.  The best way to help others is to liberate ourselves from our need to be a savior.  We need to grow into what we want to give away.  We become like water- being available for all to drink.  If we are water some people will want to drink and others won’t.  We cannot make them drink.  Our job is to be like water.

I vow to live a life of forgiveness, atonement, compassion, and sacrifice.

  1. So what? When we fail to live up to our aspirations, we can feel guilty, angry and ashamed or we can think- so what? And get on with life.  Don’t make a hell story to liberate the self from mistakes.
  2. It’s not about me. The world is not waiting for us to make a demonstration of Great Spirit’s story.  We are not that important.  Whatever anyone else says about us- it really is never about us- it is only about the justification of their life story.
  3. What would I do if this didn’t matter? If we were not busy being upset what would we be thinking about?  If we were not obsessed with perfection we might be happy.  Everything we think is not true.  So, why are we thinking about things that create pain and challenge?

bodhisattva_by_meddlerinc-d5kb6njI vow to know the truth, manifest the truth, and become the truth.

Spirit Truth is love, joy, peace, life, and light.  Nothing else is the truth, though lots of  nasty stuff seems very real.  The absolute truth is becoming a cause for joy, sharing kindness, being generous, staying determined to be liberated, and becoming fearless in living life.

Laughter Can Set Us Free

6c9f074d8c30aa1e02b4cc3acf9e41e5A long time ago you were a small child born with hopes and dreams.  You wanted to love and be loved, to laugh, to play, and to make a difference in the world.  The family that you were adopted or born into shared with you a structure and a way of understanding life, which was probably very different than what you understood as a pre-born spirit.  Your family had ways of thinking and being that were a response to what they had experienced in their lives.  They probably wished to save you from the suffering of the world- and so they taught you many things they believed to be useful.  Then, you became your own person.  Maybe you even believed you were not like everyone else in your family.  But the truth is no one really believes they fit in, belong, or are OK just like they are.

In the end no one fits in because there is no truth to the world of mind.  It’s all an illusion of thought.  Mind is full of notions and ideas; most of which make money for someone.  But making money is not a Truth…it is an experience of illusion.  The mind’s purpose is not to help you be who you truly are or to live as Divine Spirit.  Its purpose is to evaluate, categorize, judge, compare, and remember.

Earth-4039The Truth of Spirit Mind is: We are beloved children of Divine Spirit. This means we have a great light within us.  We have a great love within us.  The potential for sympathetic joy exists within us, and the energy of peace is also within us.  We cannot earn this.  We cannot create it.  It just exists.  It exists as our Tarai (spirit) mind- the mind that remembers who we truly are.  Coming to rely upon the Spirit Mind we will be able to know and remember why we came into this world.

The part of us that does not know purpose or believe this truth is ordinary thinking mind.  That mind is preoccupied with memories, judgments, rewards, anxiety, need, anger, fear, pain, grief, I want it- I don’t want it, depression and guilt.  In other words the ingredients of suffering.

The seeds (thoughts) we are sowing in our mind, into the ground of our spirit beingness, determine our experience of this world. 

No one can make us feel anything we do not decide to feel.  Over and over again individuals have demonstrated that they can hold to Divine Spirit truth even if their body is tortured and killed.  No one can make us commit an evil act…it is ourselves who choose to be evil or to be noble and virtuous.

When we find someone we are afraid of, or who has insulted us, and declare them to be the cause of our suffering we have created an enemy.  It is usual to feel that the enemy must be destroyed, left behind, or gotten rid of somehow. When we believe others are controlling our experiences we are outside of Spirit Truth.

As spirit’s people we, therefore, speak for right action not against the actions of others.

freedomHow can we avoid enemy consciousness?  It begins by understanding that we are in enemy consciousness within ourselves.  There is often a part of us that we hate.  This is the inner dialogue that tells us we are stupid or that there is must be something wrong with us.  This is our personal demon.  We all have one.  This demon was created by the words of people when we were small, or the words of people who were trying to educate us.

The demon is always a voice from our past.

The demon makes a lot of noise and we feel that we have to respond to that voice. So, we engage in an arguments with ourselves.  We may be constantly defending against this voice.  Arguing with the demon tends to make the self-hate and judgment more real, stronger, and less easily defended against.  It seems like we always lose.  It’s like a court battle with a corrupt attorney.  And this demon voice doesn’t always stay in our head, it might be voiced  by the people around us, those who feel it is their right to share negative opinions with us.

Most suffering is caused by the voices in our head.

When we have made a mistake of some kind we begin to be ashamed, then guilty, then angry.  When we are angry we blame someone.  If we blame others we become victimized.  When we blame ourselves we become depressed or hopeless.  Neither of these two options help us move from suffering into joy, peace, or love.

What if there was a tool?  The tool is Laughter….laughter can set us free!

Happy-ChildrenNow there are some songs that say love is the key- but actually that rarely works.  How many times have we managed be loving but still felt sad or upset inside?  It’s impossible to suffer and laugh at the same time.  However this will not work as long as we are determined to believe that everything we say, think, feel, and do is deadly serious.

We could begin to let go of taking life so seriously.   We could cultivate a sense of humor about ourselves and others.  We could begin to play at life instead of striving to conquer life.  We could discover beauty, grace, and the joy of seeing others happy.  We can find deep joy in service.

Liberation is possible if we truly understand that in life there will be suffering, and that mistakes are inevitable. Let us hope that we will be willing to make mistakes for the remainder of our lives.  If we cannot make mistakes we will have ceased to learn, grow, and expand into the more.  It helps to accept that we will never arrive at a place when everyone will love us, everyone will agree with us, approve of us, or even like us. Even we don’t give ourselves that consistent kind of attention.

Mistakes are inevitable, and suffering will happen- But laughter can set us free!

Bird

A New Mission

This Covenant Prayer is a description of a way of life – a life of knowing and sharing love, joy, and peace with all beings.  The spirit path can be summed up in this phrase-I promise to put in lots of hard work to create love, joy, and peace for myself and all other beings.

 The Words of our Covenant with Great Spirit are:

In honor we hold ourselves because we are the children of Mother Earth.
We invoke the sensual wild so that all life is abundant.
May all the decisions we make bring wisdom. 
May we find the wisdom to become what is needed for others and ourselves.
We shall not begin what we cannot finish in love, joy, and peace.
We accept all people as our own (family) and open our hearts to share with them.
United in purpose, together, we are one.
We are makers and shapers of beauty in the world.
We sow the seeds of eternity and reap the harvest of love and joy,
over,and over, and over again.

We are willing to go into the dark to find the light of truth, so that our actions
take place in rightness and our passion leads to devotion.
May our changes bring healing to the world.
In the heart of the Wisdom Light we shall find comfort.
May our protection be guided by obedience to a Higher Power.
May our strength be supportive of the weak and helpless of the world.
May our joyous playfulness bring magical possibilities and laughter set us free.
It is in the heart of our mirror self that we shall find
unconditional love, so that love may truly lift up the world.

a720159d11d4487ce161cd8c935888eeThe mission of our time is to live by a set of ideas and ideals of consciousness whose very nature has the power and ability to transform hearts and minds.  It is a process of gathering friends and companions who are convinced of the truth that all life is precious and no one should be left out.  There have been many Missions of Consciousness throughout time; adopted for a while the teachings bring great change.  Then, one by one these statements of greatest of being lose the power to awaken hearts and direct lives.  It is time for a new Mission.  The Mission of the Metta.  This Mission requires each of us to focus on three things: Liberation, Obedience, and Release.

Liberation

02fb413f32e2d99898239eefbd868117Liberation from suffering is a part of every mission.  The process of suffering is caused by what we have that we don’t want and what we want that we don’t have.  The path of freedom from suffering is gratitude, appreciation, and blessing.  In gratitude we focus on the people, places, experiences, and things in our lives that we have in such abundance.  With appreciation we speak our thanksgiving to those who have walked with us at different times thanking them for the gifts they have shared with us.  We acknowledge that we are part of a whole, not a separate being, independent and alone.  With blessing we speak Metta for others: May you be well and happy.  May you be at ease.  May you feel safe.  May you know you are loved.

To be a true seeker it is part of our job to bless, express appreciation, and count our gratitudes.  It is not enough for us to be happy, have love, and a peaceful life.  We are responsible to create the possibility of these gifts in the lives of others: humans, animals, and all living beings.  In this way we will know we are truly on the path of Freedom/Liberation.

Obedience

2ade9f2fb20fd9b0b982de5a4698bda3A True Seeker is not self-employed, so obedience becomes important.  A True Seeker knows he or she is employed in life, in spirit, by a Higher Power- Divine Mother…Divine Father…Divine Weaver.

When we practice being obedient to Great Spirit we decide to be obedient to love, peace, compassion, healing, generosity, and joy.  We change our attitude, our interactions, and involvements so that the energy we express is in accordance with Divine Will.  It is the Will of Great Spirit that we practice love, joy, and peace with all beings.

Release

ba6c4424174458bf1f6d7bf3fc22bd4eRelease is very difficult because we are afraid of what will happen if we are not in control; little realizing that we have never really been in control of anything other than our thoughts.  Even controlling our thought is a challenge for most of us.  So we learn to meditate, chant mantras, and focus with prayers hoping to gain a little peace from the experience of monkey mind.  When we release we are allowing ourselves to let go of the visions we have of being bad, unworthy, lazy, confused, disorganized, or unlovable.  We let go of the vision of our amazing gifts, accomplishments, and knowledge.  We allow the Ancient Wisdom of Great Mother- Great Father to guide our lives.  The voice of the Divine is audible within our hearts if we are truly seeking to practice love, joy, compassion, generosity, and peace for ourselves and for all other beings.

A New Mission, A New Consciousness is arising- May we join our voices,
our hearts, and our lives together for the benefit of all beings everywhere!

The Monastic Journey

The secret to spiritual mastery is to become more of who we already are as spiritual beings.  We did not become who we are today in a year, or two years, or even in ten years.  It took a lifetime to be ourselves.  IMAG0820Who is this self?   To be human is to long for an unfettered union with the divine although we often strive to meet that need, that goal, through friendships, companions, and lovers eventually our soul will turn to the Maker of All Things and rejoice in the possibility of that unconditional, loving union.

We can never eliminate our ego, or personality self, but we can be aware of the voices inside that do not speak to us of love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace.  We can let go of guilt, anger, and self-pity and take the journey of awakened consciousness.  The only thing standing between us and our highest spiritual good is our fear and an acute sense of our own unworthiness.

Monasticism is a joyful journey toward Great Spirit and the sublime heights of spiritual love but it is also an arduous climb out of the shadowed valleys of self-hatred, despair, and childhood psychosis so that we can touch the sublime heights of spiritual love.  taktshang2But if effort were unnecessary we would not need courage, determination, and a passionate, even obsessive love for The Master, for Her or His Grace, or for the ultimate goal of knowing the Self, which is called Enlightenment.

To free ourselves it is necessary to change the past and our story of the past by reviewing the emotional decisions connected with earlier unhappy events.  We do this by redefining what those things mean to us now.  What did we learn?  What treasures did we find?  What do we need to leave in the ashes?  And what shall we carry with us into our future?

On the monastic path we spend a great deal of time noticing our thoughts, our arisings or mental images, emotional reactions, and bodily sensations.  We become so familiar with our inner landscape that we finally wish to release it, forgive it, and find some new adventure on which to embark.  However, our old self has to go with us.  We can’t run.  We can’t hide.  And we can’t destroy any part of us.  starangeAnd why should we?  We are a beautiful, unique, divine spark of the All Spirit Energy.  There has never been anyone just like us…and there never will be again.  Shouldn’t we try to enfold all of our beingness in the loving arms of compassion?  Great Spirit doesn’t make mistakes…and the Eternal Spirit of All Life doesn’t make junk.

So from what are we trying to free ourselves?  Simply put it is the deep seated belief that we are intrinsically bad, wrong, unworthy, and wrong-headed.  When we free ourselves from this misconception into the possibility that somehow we need all of our qualities and the wisdom of all our experiences in order to serve Great Spirit… we will be free indeed.  The monastic life gives us an opportunity to practice accepting ourselves, as we are, right now…and maybe even more importantly to accept others as they are right now.  This is a daily practice because we will be living in intimate community with people we don’t know very well, who have habits we don’t always approve of, and who may be individuals we almost certainly would avoid if we were living in the world.   And yet there they are day after day being themselves… as we continually express being ourselves.  Oh, boy, what a recipe for suffering!  So in monasticism we practice accepting others as they are and continually strive to accept ourselves as we are.11537595-bells-inside-the-buddhist-monastery-square-composition

Acceptance is not approval.  It is ALLOWING.  In allowing we find concern and kindness for others who are also on a great journey to enlightenment, and are struggling with their own doubts, challenges, and suffering.  We find care and compassion for ourselves because we are suffering.  And softly, with great gentleness we surrender to Great Spirit in prayer, pohwas, and the mighty nectar of mantra.  Slowly, bit-by-bit, prayer-by-prayer Enlightenment brightens up the world around us until we are Holy and we are Free!