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

Desire Mind

The function of desire-mind is to assist in recording choices that might be useful, good, and advantageous for us. Unfortunately, almost everything that desire-mind believes and considers important is based on things that happened, or didn’t happen, in our childhood, adolescence, or some other time in our lives when we felt emotionally attached to the outcome of an event.   This portion of our mind is always attempting to decide if we like something or don’t like something, find an energy or person attractive or decide they are disgusting, unpleasant, and repulsive.  These decisions are based in survival instinct.  But what a child decides is repulsive (like spinach) and therefore a threat to their very existence is to an adult- well- simply childish.

choicesMuch of what we consider necessary for survival is only a preference, not a fact.  Attraction and Aversion are the territory of Desire-mind.  And most of us have not sifted through the decisions of early childhood or adolescence in order to make informed choices regarding life goals, food choices, relationship attractions, and dislikes or distasteful alternatives.

The Great Being within has the ability to navigate the stormy emotional waters of desire-mind by taking each situation, circumstance, and relationship encounter as they come, as they are, right here, right now and redefining what we think about them.  Everything does not have to be compared to something from the past in order to know how to relate to it.  Therefore, the Great Being can find equanimity where the child-self finds only confusion or partiality.

remain calmEven if we become determined to remain focused on the now, and hold to the present moment, it will not prevent desire-mind from throwing up thoughts, images, ideas, and emotions.  These random experiences are called Arisings.  An arising is simply a thought or image that comes to awareness.  We have thousands, possibly millions, of these arisings daily.  Most of this random firing of the brain cells remains unconscious and unnoticed.  So when we do notice a thought, a memory, or an image, we immediately believe that it must be important, true, and have some meaning.

In order to get a feel for this concept take a few moments, settle into a comfortable position, and focus on breathing in slowly to the count of seven, then breathe slowly out to the count of seven.  Try doing this for five minutes.  Notice how many times desire-mind inserts a random thought so that you have to go back and remember to count to seven and focus on your breath. This is the experience of arising.  Remember it is happening all the time, thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of times a day.

mystic-dreamsIn the beginning when an individual notices these arisings the tendency is to believe that they are important and mean something.  “Why would I be having this thought?  Why would that image come to me? Why am I suddenly taken with an urge to eat something, drink something, or do something?  It must be a message of some kind.”  It is not unusual for an individual investigating the spiritual or mystical path to give credence to these random images believing they have made a breakthrough into ancient wisdom.

Meditation is the tried, true, and most authentic way to escape the maze of haphazard, indiscriminate, and arbitrary messages from desire-mind.  Following the breath, a mantra, or simple visualization over and over again allows us to see that desire-mind will keep at it- keep throwing up images, voices, urges, and thoughts whether we pay any attention to them or not.  After a while they become white noise…we are no longer in thrall to desire-mind’s attractions and aversions…we become calm,  open to a deep inner peace and even a blissful silence in which it becomes possible to hear our Greater Self- the Great Spirit within us speak for the first time.  Through the continued practice of meditation we learn to tame desire-mind.  We allow it to send us urges, thoughts, memories, and evaluations which we can consider and contemplate to determine if they are harmless possibilities or potential obsessions that will lead us into suffering.

MorningMeditation

Looking around
We see spirits, souls,
Coming from far places, near places,
Clothed in layers of color and warmth.
Old, young, eager for the voice of wisdom to
Hold them and touch them with love.

Great Spirit, we open to your sacred grace.
Fill our bodies with each breath we take.
Fill our eyes with your beauty.
We open to you.
Touch us, hold us in love.
Cleanse us of our problems and worries.
We are here now to be filled with your Healing and Wisdom.
We open our eyes, we open our hearts,
We open to be the sacred people
We were born to be.

Meditation

Meditation is the process of teaching your mind to think what you want to think.

Meditation and contemplation are two energies that we must begin over and over.  It is impossible to arrive at a place where we will no longer need to meditate.  It is even more impossible to become too enlightened to need contemplation.  There is always more to know.

The path of spirit is an endless journey into untold adventures, along often unexplored paths.

Thinking what you choose to think is the beginning of Enlightenment.
In beginning times there are two emotions: fear and enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm arises when we have an opportunity to do something
new and different.
Fear arises when we have the opportunity to do something
new and different.
Enthusiasm happens when we see the possibility of change.
Fear happens when we feel that nothings is ever going to really change..

meditate

I listen to the Voice of Spirit.
I know it is spirit’s voice because it echoes
with love, peace, and comfort.

My everyday mind is full of noise-
Full of voices from the past
who clamor for one thing or another.
Crowded with voices of the future
who demand attention
like unruly children crying for sweets.

In meditation I say to that intractable storm-
Peace, Be Still!

In that stillness, Beloved, you speak to me.
You teach me your will and your ways.
You make me a clear vessel for your Light.
You help me sing your song.

When I am still-
Peace is possible.
When I am still-
Love is true.
When I am still-
My heart is filled with Joy.

When I am Still-
When I am Still…