Tag Archives: Monasticism

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!

As I continue “Just Sitting” – my Zazen practice – I remain intrigued by what it’s doing, yet at the same time trying to be unattached from expectation that anything will come of it. This simple (and not so simple!) opening of the body, spirit and mind connects us directly to Source Energy, God, Spirit and when you think about it, that’s freak’n amazing!! I find myself more aware, looking to see what this silence will bring.

Most of the time I find it difficult not to think, and simply concentrate on my breathing. The mind, the ego will not easily shut up. It does NOT want to give up control! Yet, what a relief it is to stop the incessant chatter within! I can only imagine what this must do to the brain. I can’t help but believe that in the process of this silence of the mind, the brain is literally making new connections. I am convinced that in this silence I am more lined up with Source, and Divine will becomes my will. In this silence the ego is shut up and I somehow feel more directly connected to God – I let go of control. I get out of the way. Maybe that’s what “let go, and let God” means. Normally when I give up control, I find myself, at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful. Yet as a result of this silence I find myself looking forward in hopeful expectation to see what will unfold in my life – and that of the world (because it‘s not just about my life, but affecting the world). Instead of a problem to be solved, life is becoming a Mystery to be lived. I look forward to the journey!


SEDUCED

The other day I was made aware of a movie called “Into Great Silence.” It is a documentary film directed by Phillip Groning which portrays the lives of the Carthusian Monks of the Grande Charteuse Monastery high in the French Alps. It’s known to be one of the most austere monasteries. I imagine that many people might be bored out of their minds by this movie, as it definitely takes one “into great silence,” as its title suggests. The movie is around two and a half hours long and most of it is silence. It simply shows the monks in their day to day lives – without offering commentary or explanation. These monks do not talk, except when they are in common prayer and once a week after a meal on Sundays. So it’s quiet! Disturbingly so! Yet, . . . Refreshingly so. Talk about counter-cultural!

After watching this movie I wondered how much we may all be seduced away from the silence by the incessant, and sometimes, unnoticeable noise all around us. I wonder if all the noise that surrounds us, or that we choose to be surrounded by – lulls us into a dull sense of living, and ultimately – in our society – a crisis of meaning.

When I enter into the silence, which is initially disturbing, I am lead to a greater sense of myself, a more peaceful place and, in the process, I become a more compassionate presence in the world. It is nothing short of hard work to stay with silence, but I am becoming more and more conscious of the tremendous difference it makes in my life and work. I feel as if I am slowly being seduced by it. In entering the silence I give up control to a Higher Power, which is initially disturbing. But now I am intrigued by it, curious and interested to see what happens. And something is happening. I don’t quite know what it is, but I know it’s good.


IN THE ARMS OF YOUR SILENT EMBRACE

Today I was meditating, and, as often is the case, my mind gets going and I want to get up and start getting something done that I’m thinking about. Sometimes it is “work” just to sit there. Funny huh? “Work” just to sit there?

The White Robed Monks call this “Just Sitting,” a practice adopted from Zen, where one simply sits 15 minutes a day, concentrating on the breath and clearing the mind of all thought. When we do this our mind, our ego revolts. That little voice in our heads just doesn’t want to leave us alone.

What struck me this morning again is that when I want to heed that voice within, when I want to get up and start moving and stop this sitting – I am not trusting! In essence, when I break the meditation and start running, I am saying that I trust more in myself than I do in Divine Power. My experience, however, says that when I stay with this “work,” when I simply sit and make an empty space in my mind, I connect directly with Source Energy, God, the Spirit. Suddenly my work is given energy and much more is accomplished – and somehow – directly as a result of thinking no-thing, my thoughts are clarified and my life is given meaning and direction. It’s like I have suddenly been plugged in!

Can I trust enough to stay with the silent embrace and make a space in my life to connect with Source? Try it. And see what happens!


Where Two or Three Gather – Creating Spiritual Intimacy

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.”

Matthew 18: 15-20

Much of my spiritual practice is done in solitude. Perhaps that reflects the inner “monk” that is at the very core of my being. However, there is something about coming together with another or a group to experience meditation, prayer or a ritual experience. There is an energy that is released in the coming together of people in these settings. Perhaps it’s the joining together of good, focused vibration, like being in love with another. When we are in their presence, we feel alive, we literally vibrate with energy.

To be honest, I rarely experience this in the typical “church” setting. After Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, overnight, thousands became Christian, not because of any inner experience or “conversion,” but simply because it was the thing to do. Monasticism rose in reaction to that. People began to go to the desert to have a deeper experience of the Divine. Gradually these “monks” joined together in community. We experience the affects of this till this day. Some participate in religion simply because it’s the thing to do. Others look for a deeper spiritual experience.

What is your experience of coming together with others to meditate, pray or for a ritual experience? Does it nourish your soul, or are you simply going through the motions? When I was a leader in a church community I used to say “if this community, if this ritual prayer together is not nourishing your heart, for God’s sake, go someplace else!” My concern was that people find a place where they felt at home, were stirred on the inside, inspired, uplifted and challenged in their living and loving.

Let’s bring it a little closer to home. Do you ever pray or meditate with your Partner? For some, this may be an uncomfortable experience. We may find, however, that this experience of prayer together creates within the relationship an intimacy that until now we had not experienced. There is indeed an Energy stirred when “two or three gather.”