A Life of Contemplation.

Tao_Equus

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Someone choosing to be a nun or a monk fascinates me. Other than a little general knowledge I am pretty ignorant of what it is to be monk/nun. Reducing so many individuals to a stereotype is fraught with danger too. There must be some monasteries out there that do some pretty weird stuff, I know there is but I am too lazy today to look up an example. Maybe you know some?

As a thought exercise there can be many reasons to choose such a life, and indeed some still have the choice made for them when they are still children. I see also that some of the lifestyles they offer would seem appealing to a segment of the population whether or not they were really believers. You get institutionalised prisoners that commit crimes to stay in jail. It is there they find a system with a similar structure to some monasteries that they can cope with and understand. One with no need of money or possessions, with a rigid never changing routine.

The 'study' dimension always confuses me. Mastermind has convinced me that rather ordinary individuals are capable of knowing virtually everything there is to know about any subject. The total works of any religion are petty compared to some subjects. So enter all the 'contextualisation'... that will feed on itself for a millennia or 3:confused:

For the reasoned purpose and pursuit of a life of contemplation and prayer alone takes a singular individual and amongst them probably the individuals I would most enjoy a conversation with.

I had a 6 month chefs training placement at what was then a Catholic Teacher Training College and is now known as the Craiglochart campus of Napier University. This place had 16 nuns at its administrative heart and my first job in the morning was to make their mid morning snacks. They were a confusing bunch, none of them young or attractice :p, some dotty, some confused, some timid and one dark and viscious. She was of course the head Sister. All of them, I guess under the orders of Herr Sister Kelly(? not sure that was her name now), on finding out I was not a Catholic they all harassed me me constant admonitions. So tedius did this become that I sought my own small revenges ;)

I do not think I could choose to be a monk of any kind. I will stick to being a cheeky monkey instead. Thanks Darwin!!
 
I've done similar for a week, don't think I'd have trouble with doing it for longer.
 
I think I'd love it. In all seriousness, if I had one singular religion that had monasteries and I hadn't fallen in love and married early on, I would have been very tempted. Maybe become a Buddhist nun, I am not sure.

It is not the structure that appeals to me so much as the simplicity. It is very difficult to live a simple life in the United States when you have to work; out of necessity you then need all the trappings for work- the clothes and car and cell phone and laptop. And our time is so much spent in noise.

Every so often, as people may notice here, I just go offline for a while and retreat. This world is a bit overwhelming for me. I love people and conversation, yet I crave solitude. I'm introverted and it is how I recharge my batteries.

Aside from my deep affection for solitude and silence (when I'm alone, I spend most of my time in silence), I think it gives more pause for contemplation and openness to the Divine. On a spiritual level, it is simply easier to hear the Divine within if I am silencing, as much as I can, the chatter outside and in my mind. On a purely practical level, it is (of course) easier for me to be peaceful, joyful, and loving when I am not bombarded by people interrupting such feelings with their own negativity, conflict, and so forth. I find more solace and sense of communion amongst trees and rocks and water than with people, who are too often busy and conflicted and feel like a jumbled mess of thought and emotion. I am honest enough with myself to recognize that my spiritual capacity to serve others requires a lot of time away from others, and my capacity to be peaceful requires time spent away from the conflict of social life. I am not capable of the type of constant service yet constant peace that I see in people such as Amma. Maybe in a few hundred more lifetimes...
 
to live in a total institution requires complete surrender to it so l can see why it is attractive to devote oneself to a cause higher than your mundane self and even more mundane society. lt only suits people able and willing to do that hence the rejection of many trainee buddhist monks as not 'suitable'.
l spent a weekend at a buddhist retreat and that was enough as it was too structured for me [though l understand the benefits of that!].
 
You know.... The films make it look so freaking easy... I wanted to become a Monk/priest/member of staff at a church any position lol Wouldn't take me... You need to get educated to be a person of god you know....

In the films it's like walk in off the street "o hai, I have no where to go, down on my luck sick as **** with this world... Let me join you!" "Sure buddy! We shall teach you the ways!" But it ain't like that... It's like "What qualifications and experience you got pal? Oh none? On ya bike."
 
I came this close to becoming a buddhist monk in my early twenties before a family crisis pulled me on to a different path.

Now I am married and a part of "normal" society. But I look forward to the opportunity that may exist later in life to enter a monastery and devote myself to a "life of contemplation".
 
I come from a tradition of contemplatives in the world. But there are also monastics or renunciants. We retire a few times in the year and live as monastics. We practice our devotions in silence. It is a wonderful experience.

I began to prepare for a monastic life, but after three years of preparation I had to abandon the practice. I am much older now; but if I had the opportunity to do it, I would.

Today I am satisfied with living in the world, and enjoying periods of living in absolute silence.

Hermano Luis
 
We have a twosome.

My golf game is like my spiritual journey.

I can mash the ball...

but I have no idea where it's going.
 
We have a twosome.

My golf game is like my spiritual journey.

I can mash the ball...

but I have no idea where it's going.
My motto is long or straight but never both...

Have a friend, became a buddhist monk a few years ago and moved to a retreat center. He was already the contemplative type. Kung Fu, Tai Chi master, his comment to me was that he'd given enough years working on others it was time to work on himself.

I look at other opportunities, a variety of intentional communities, some pagan ones where you can dedicate your life to chopping wood, carrying water and contemplation.

I'm going thru a phase of trying to figure it out...I could head that direction, my kids are in college in a couple of years and I could easily break from the norm...why work till 65 and then golf...forget that...doesn't apeal at all.

right now I think 2 years working overseas collecting tax free big bucks...one year travel...two years peace corp...one year travel...two years working overseas...who knows
 
Over the past 7 years I have come to really value my own space in a way I have not done since my 6 years in the pastoral tranquillity of a remote farmhouse 50km south of Olympia, Greece. Now that I am at last growing my own vegetables again I can even reclaim some of the connection to earth and sunlight that I find the most uplifting aspect of being alive. Seeing sunlight converted into beautiful plants that yield delicious fruits and sustain the chain of life, and actively engaging in enhancing that creation to me is the ultimate rightness. Being so self-sufficient is common in the monastic tradition so in some sense I do have some monky ideals:rolleyes:
I suppose in some ways too the internet has given us a scope for a shared contemplation that makes our homes the monasteries of the day. Sometimes with silence only being broken by the clicking of the keyboard and whirring of the fans.
Lol, a thought just occurred to me about my years in Greece, my letters home to friends and family and my course work for the various studies I did whilst living there. My letters and course work were no less than illuminated manuscripts. My letters used to carry some cartoon or drawing for each paragraph, and my coursework illustrations were meticulous. And I used to write endlessly by longhand. Reams and reams of poems, essays, short stories and commentary.
Maybe I am an atheist monk :p
 
The 'study' dimension always confuses me. Mastermind has convinced me that rather ordinary individuals are capable of knowing virtually everything there is to know about any subject. The total works of any religion are petty compared to some subjects. So enter all the 'contextualisation'... that will feed on itself for a millennia or 3:confused:

Petty in what sense? It can't be quantity. So do you mean "worthy of study"? - that is clearly a personal perspective. A life of contemplation is not for factual accretion. :rolleyes:


The majority of time of a monk's day (that I know of) is spent doing work of one sort or another.




It would be a selfish act for me. There are people I love and care for in the life that I have, I could not abandon that. My partner fears that this is what I may do, whatever I say. In a different circumstance, it would be the most worthwhile life.

There was a monk who lived in a solitary retreat for several years. He then moved to Hong Kong. He was asked what it was like to live in the bustling city. He replied, “For meditation – it’s rubbish; but for practice – it’s perfect.”

s.
 
Petty in what sense? Not volume surely? Worthy of study? - that is clearly a personal perspective. A life of contemplation is not for factual accretion. :rolleyes:
I would say that depends on what you are contemplating, for me the accretion of facts is vital to my broad contemplation.

The majority of time of a monk's day (that I know of) is spent doing work of one sort or another.
I recognise that.




It would be a selfish act for me. There are people I love and care for in the life that I have, I could not abandon that. My partner fears that this is what I may do, whatever I say. In a different circumstance, it would be the most worthwhile life.
It is a selfish choice no matter which way you look at it. Being selfish is not always a bad thing though. And yes, I see its big attractions. If there were mixed sex atheist ones I'd be in already :p

There was a monk who lived in a solitary retreat for several years. He then moved to
Hong Kong. He was asked what it was like to live in the bustling city. He replied, “For meditation – it’s rubbish; but for practice – it’s perfect.”

s.
Ahhhhh then the world is my monastery.:D
 
for me the accretion of facts is vital to my broad contemplation.

Of course one needs grist for the mill, as long as one doesn't see this as the purpose. Finger pointing at moon and all that.


It is a selfish choice no matter which way you look at it.
Can you not see personal circumstances where it is not selfish?

Ahhhhh then the world is my monastery.:D
Yes. :)

s.
 
One of the things I do not get about religion is heaven. I would say if you cannot find heaven in this life then you will be incapable of finding it anywhere.

There you go with your tarring brush again! :p

I agree, heaven and hell exist in this life now.

s.
 
There you go with your tarring brush again! :p
lol, I thought you would have known, by now, just what I mean.
You are right though, I paint with a broad brush a lot of the time. But the line of complexity does not just work at one arbitrary. Sometimes I gasp at just how existentialist I have become.
 
I can see circumstances where living a contemplative life is not selfish, and others where it would be. If one has no responsibilities in terms of relationships (children or partner) and is wholly free to do whatever one wants, a monastic life would in many ways be beneficial to the world at large. Generally much more energy efficient and sustainable, plus I think that one's work toward a peace and joy filled life matters on an energetic level here on earth. We need more people grounded in compassion and peace, and people seem to struggle with it a lot more in "regular" life.

As for heaven, I'm a theist and I still don't get it either, Tao. I understand the desire for heaven, because of course we wish for some sort of egoic continuity and to see all our loved ones again just as they are, and some sort of life without need for work or pain or death.

I hate to say it this way, but it is truly what happened in my own life- I just outgrew such desires or need. I had a really spectacular spiritual experience and realized that at the termination of my egoic self is an expansion into unity with absolutely everything. And that expansion is so, so much better in every way than my lackluster ideas about heaven that it just sort of shattered that entirely. Although I certainly miss those I have lost, I know now that when "me" is swallowed up by the Divine, there will be no one to miss and no desire to fulfill. I have the rest of my life (and who knows, maybe more later) to work toward realizing this in my everyday life. And when I do consistently, I believe I will have found "heaven" on earth. If we did as a species, we would suffer no more. But I think we're a long way off from that. It takes going through the rather painful transition of increased disbelief and shattering of the ego to emerge on the other side without fear and with a deep-seated peace about death and letting go.

Anyhoo, I think I posted this once before somewhere on IO, but it's really one of my favorites... just in case I haven't...

"Heaven's Here On Earth"

YouTube - heaven's here on earth
 
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