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!

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What If…?

What if there is nothing wrong with me?  What if there is nothing wrong with you?

apocalypse-statue-of-libertyIn this very difficult and scary time when the world we thought we knew seems to be disintegrating it becomes important to ground and center in spiritual truth.  No, I am not advocating a head in the sand, ignore the pain, and pretend everything is happening for the best attitude.  I’m suggesting that we reinforce our relationship with our humanity, with our inner goodness, with our strength of character.  I am suggesting we remember and ground ourselves in the benefactor qualities of the human race.

Because we can imagine and act on our imagination humans have created many amazing, beautiful, and positive things in this world.  We have also created, through imagination and action, genocide, poverty, destruction, hatred, bigotry, and war.  As we know the beginning of both heaven and hell reside in the use of our own mind.  It resides in the way we think and speak of others and the way we think and speak about ourselves.  As we become overwhelmed by hearing and seeing the dark side of human behavior let us also look for and listen to the good in our young people, in the actions of our brothers and sisters around the globe.  Let us remember that hard times call for heroic action.  The heroes of old are calling your name.  Many children, women, and men are listening and responding in protection, compassion, and a renewed sense of purpose.  Protecting all of life we nurture and defend what is precious.

hand-846092_1280-2-custom-1Here are some things to consider as you cultivate the hero within you:

*You are living your life the best you know how and attempting to get better every day.

*You make mistakes, like everyone else, which allows you to gain wisdom.

*You’re unique, whether you’re introverted or extroverted, practical or a dreamer, technical or artistic, book smart or street smart…however you are…you are the only person just like you on the planet.

*If you do what you enjoy and don’t harm other beings, you’re living a beautiful life.

*You will never become someone because you already are someone.

*If someone hurt, you…you didn’t deserve it…no one does…and it didn’t happen because of karma.

*It’s OK to feel your emotions and respond to them.  If you need to improve the way you respond; well everyone could use some improvement in that area.

Chaos, confusion, darkness, fear, anger, grief…these are all perfectly understandable emotions in this time of upheaval and potential destruction of the values we were taught was the American Way.  The Buddha once said, being with what is we can respond (not react) to what is.  We respond by knowing who and what we love- the Earth, the animals, the children, compassion, generosity, and fearlessness.  We respond by maintaining the knowledge of our inner goodness and working to create a world we can proudly leave to our children.

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And if, like the Jedi, many of us are destroyed, then like the Jedi we will rise again and defeat the darkness of hatred, greed, and anger.  The Force is with us!  We are unstoppable!

What Now?

Delusions are inexhaustible.  I vow to end them.

challengesAs we awake from our distorted view of what it means to be a proud American it’s important to renew our faith in a Dream that Really Works.  Our leaders are calling for unity but have yet to define a true vision that could bring unity.  Unity can’t happen when some people are left out.  Unity can’t happen when civil rights are only for those holding the majority view of religion, ethnicity, gender identity, and country of origin.  The Constitution, we were taught, was written for everyone.  Although historically quite a few people were left out of that equation- African Americans, Native Americans, women, slaves, Asians, and anyone else considered less than or unimportant in the white, male dominated eighteenth century.  But it doesn’t have to stay that way!

A Dream that Really Works must take into consideration the very stuff that allows Life to Thrive.  The first step is providing all beings, not just human beings, with those things: Clean air, pure fresh water, an abundance of untainted food, a safe secure home, the ability to follow one’s true calling, the ability to be well and cared for in childhood, in sickness, in old age, and in death. And the ability to be free from unnecessary suffering; such as torture, beatings, name calling, profiling, bullying, unjust imprisonment, abandonment, and starvation.

With eyes wide open we can see that almost none of these basic life needs are being met for All People, let alone all beings- not here in the United States anyway.  If we actually want to unite in common cause this is the Dream we could attempt to implement.  This vision requires the decency of kindness, compassion, and a generosity of spirit unparalleled during any other time of history.  Perhaps it’s time for a new history…a history that doesn’t create pain and suffering for its citizens, that doesn’t marginalize people…a history that allows the word human to mean humane.

GoldenRuleThroughout time great beings have given us the formula for this dream.  Do, say, behave with others only in a way you would be willing to experience personally.  The earliest record of the existence of this blueprint for humane behavior was in ancient Egypt 1650 b.c.e.

 Empathy.  Walk a mile in another’s place. If our governmental leaders Really want to be a the leaders of all the people it would be a step in the right direction if they practiced the Golden Rule and then guided us on a journey so that all beings have what it takes to thrive.

We have a mountain of evil to remove from the consciousness of the world.  This mountain is created from enemy consciousness, misogyny, gender discrimination, white supremacy, greed, violence, and destruction of the Earth.  Prayer is the only force capable of crumbling that mountain.  Prayer first for compassion and empathy in Our Hearts. Then, Prayer to awaken compassion and empathy in All hearts.  If we have faith in the power of prayer, even if it is as tiny as a mustard seed, we can move that mountain!

Above all remember: WHEN THE WORLD IS TOO HARD TO STAND-

KNEEL AND PRAY FOR AWAKENING!

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Awakened Intelligence

If we are going to participate in sacred ceremony it means there are some things we will no longer be doing during our preparation time- which can be weeks or months prior to the Ceremony.  Sometimes we fast on certain types of foods, or enter a media ban in which we stop watching all the bad news of the world.  Or we might dedicate our time to prayer or creating sacred objects or garments that will be used in the ceremony.  IMG_4390Preparing for and participating in sacred ceremony becomes our life.  It’s not something we just show up for on a weekend, join in the music and dance, and then go home to watch a movie or return to our jobs.

There are many reasons that people come to a spiritual path- sometimes it’s because their life doesn’t work and they’re seeking a way to feel successful in jobs, relationships, and personal intimacy.  Sometimes individuals seek to join a spiritual community because they feel they have a great gift to offer and want to find others to appreciate it.  But sometimes people join a spiritual path to help make a difference in the lives of others.  It is these people who are willing to learn and practice the true meaning of sacrifice.

An authentic path of spirit gives one the opportunity
to experience awakened intelligence

Awakened_WomanIn the world, on a regular basis, most of us are engaged in daily entertainment or some form of consumerism.  This is because we are trying to avoid thinking about and realizing that illness, old age, change, and death are the realities of existence.  Since this idea tend to be depressing and off putting we form our lives around avoidance of these energies, even though, in the end, this never works.  Little children, young people, middle aged people, as well as old people go through changes they never anticipated, become ill, and even die.  Reality can, and will happen, to everyone.  But most people prefer to remain asleep and ignorant of these realities.  Awakened intelligence is the ability to live our lives, on a daily basis, as though it were our last chance to love, forgive, listen, share, or be kind to others.  Awakened intelligence means creating a life that has meaning regardless of the realities that await us.

Having a life means making a contribution to the welfare of others.  To make a contribution to the betterment of the world we are willing to sacrifice: time, money, effort, and ourselves in order to participate in actions that make a difference.  This contribution can be the practice of prayer. spiritual awakening Prayer is the focused intention of blessing those around us with the good things in life, love, joy, peace, beauty, healing, or grace.  We contribute by being kind and thoughtful to our family, friends, and associates.  We contribute by forgiving those who speak ill of us, listening with full attention when others are sharing a story that is important to them, and by allowing others to be who they are rather than expecting them to live up to who we would prefer for them to be.  We contribute when we notice and comment with appreciation on the gifts that others have shared through words, ideas, or deeds.  We contribute when we are willing to share affection with those around us- a smile, a hug, and a kind word, a touch on their shoulder or their hand.  In order to live our lives in this way we must be willing to sacrifice focusing on what we think, what we want, and what we expect.

4734c4fc70366adc5ba834ead143af9fWhen we have Awakened Intelligence we have begun
to realize our spiritual nature-
we start to take the road that leads to Enlightenment.

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!

Being Your Authentic Self

What is Equanimity?
A dictionary will say: equa·nim·i·ty  noun \ˌē-kwə-ˈni-mə-tē, ˌe-kwə-\ : calm emotions when dealing with problems or pressure

But perhaps we can describe equanimity as the ability to compassionately accept where we are and be okay with that – even if we are still crying, shaking or overwhelmed with pain. We become able to say “Yes, this is what I’m feeling.”equanimity

This is not what most of us are taught. We are more likely to hear- “if I do this I will be punished” or “don’t be such a baby!”  or “What’s wrong with you?”  Equanimity is “Oh well, I was overwhelmed with…”  Equanimity_webWith equanimity we’re not living from the point of how much guilt our emotions cause in us, but how we show up in life and navigate all the unpleasant things that happen.

“I know who I am and I am authentic in my being.” If we are questioning and denying the legitimacy of our experiences we are denying the expression of our true self.  It is our experiences that makes us uniquely who we are, that and our ability to decide how we will respond to those experiences.  Animals respond to life by seeking to survive.  They have all the same emotions we do, but they can’t decide to laugh instead of cry or share a blessing instead of biting someone.

Pain, anger, and grief are a natural part of life therefore all beings experience mental/emotional/ physical pain sometimes. Feeling what we feel does not make us spiritual cripples, it allows us to practice compassion.

A Buddhist StoryGolden buddha hands

There once was a woman who lost her son. She was very sad. She went door to door seeking healers of all sorts. We cannot help you they said, “He’s dead.”
“He should not be dead” she cried!
Finally the woman came upon the Buddha and weeping told her sad story begging for the return of her son. The Buddha agreed to help her, “All you have to do,” he said, “is bring me a grain of rice from a household that has escaped the curse of grief.” With great hope, she went through the village, door by door, and through the neighboring villages, only to hear story upon story of suffering and loss. Finally she returned to the Buddha, no less in pain, but far wiser, more compassionate, and willing to accept her human lot. Life holds pain. There is suffering and it is caused by “This should not happen.”

This woman became enlightened by understanding these facts.  When we are flattened by the things life can do to us- let’s remember that there is suffering- we are not going to get a spiritual ticket stamped “Saved from Life”.  But remembering to realign ourselves to the Higher Power and enter the state of equanimity might be enough.  Try it and see!

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Great Spirit,
May I find joy in each moment.
May I find humor in my difficulties and laughter at my mistakes.
Often, Great Spirit, I am striving, trying, seeking, learning,
grasping, working to be good, to be loving, to be kind, to be successful, to be abundant.  Life is exhausting for me when I fall
into those places where I don’t really believe
you can, or will help me.

Teach me to have faith, Great Spirit.
Help me to know that you are there for me.
Help me to stop striving and let you take care of me,
the way you do the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.
I accept your abundant, loving care in my life now.


 

A Passionate Love

The Master Speaks-

Children of spirit, come and dream with me.
The flowers are opening, a new day begins.
Let us laugh together and rejoice.
Come dance with me.  Image
Sing our song and the listen to the whispers of the wind.
Come follow me and together we will see eternity.
Together we will fly to the stars.
I am waiting.
Rise up now!

Let me lift you in my arms and fill your heart with passionate love.
May my peace be within you, and may you trust that you are where you were meant to be.
Do not forget the possibilities that are born of faith.
Use my gifts wisely.
May you be content as who you are!

Beloved-

I open my heart to you and stand in your presence.  I bow to you who have attained self-realization, self-control, and self-sacrifice.  I bow to you who attained perfect knowledge and liberated yourself and many others from the sufferings of karma.  To you I offer myself as a sacrifice.  No other desire is mine but to fulfill your will.  Teach me how to pray, and how to be the prayer I would pray, my heart is open to your teachings and your grace.

Show me the suffering of the most miserable so I will know my people’s plight.   I will pray for these others for you are present in every person.  I will be responsible for helping each suffering individual that I can, that I may do your work here on earth.  May I truly learn to serve others for in service there is true life.  Give me honesty and patience so Your Spirit will be alive among us.

I am a child of the Earth and I am your child, Beloved, and I would bring a gift to you.

May I weave a bright garment of prayer and service so that is as beautiful as the earth mornings.  May the border be made of rainbows of loving kindness gifted to those most in need.  May I sing your praises, as the birds sing.  May we walk in this earth garden together bringing gifts wherever we go.

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