Archive for monks

Like a monkfish out of water…

Posted in Asceticism, Fighting, martial arts, Monasticism, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2008 by wizardsmoke

It is interesting how monks, nuns, and those who take religious vows learn to defend themselves from social harms and ills. And those vows to abstain from drugs, sex, violence, harmful speech and behavior are all the more possible because of a secluded monastic environment. But the monastic environment is not meant just to shelter the religious from the world, but to create a safe environment in which they can build a base of profound mental awareness. The ordained may not necessarily ever stop practicing or living in their ordained community, just as any martial artist (let’s say anyone who follows the fabled-to-exist practices of budo, chivalry, gongfu, etc.) does not stop practicing or teaching at their school despite their adept level of ability. Furthermore, religious monastics and martial artists  are both ideally practicing to ward off negative elements in their surroundings.

Wait, are they both? The martial artist parallel stops short because of the outcomes of these different methods of practice. An honest religious disciple is learning to see troublesome elements in the mind before they arise, and easily avoids these things. A martial artist is usually learning to sense violence before it appears in their surroundings. On the one hand, a good monk is exempt from pernicious social atmospheres which may result in lust, greed, crime, violence, etc. and intuitively learns how gauge these things. A martial artist might not learn to perceive these elements, but is better poised to deal with violent confrontation should it happen (which is almost always due to stupid social conflicts, but let’s say we’re talking about horror-story confrontations with occasional, random, mean-spirited groups of thugs, Clockwork Orange-style, or even complete psychopathic nutcases). Here the combat training — in a “do-or-die” scenario with no other choice but to fight — becomes useful.

But what has always bothered me about a number of fighters and martial artists is a subtly angry disposition. I’ve met people in this line of practice who are virulently aggressive people with dysfunctional social problems. They’re not the majority of the people involved (a lot of the angry violent types end up in questionable lines of work anyway), but martial arts rarely has anything to curb a penchant for anger — except to let the person go berserk on another person. And even if a martial arts practice does succeed in warding off negative elements, does it have to be done through the practice of violence (even if in a controlled environment)?

So I admire this about religious vows: even if the ordained do not keep to such precepts or vows, the idea of giving up anger, greed, lust — this is very impressive and admirable to me. Because a number of people who take these vows succeed in keeping them. I know from experience that during the periods one gives up these things, so many formerly conflicting aspects in one’s environment, social sphere and daily life just float on by without causing any mental disturbance.

But talk is cheap, and here I am hanging out with the angry people.

Check it out

Posted in Monasticism, Reality Bites, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I hate doing stuff. I’m a chronically lazy person. Except when it comes to this. Or that. Or things that are not in the least bit lucrative. Interesting? It isn’t.

I’ve never been friends with anyone who naturally liked to make money. Or pursue women. I guess I distanced myself on purpose. Because, really, that stuff takes work, right? I just want to hang out and do nothing. That’s my problem with the ladies that have been in my life — I let them down because I never want to do anything!

Ah, Willie B, what did he say? “The busy bee has no time for misery”. True enough, but the busy bee also misses out on wonder, on wandering through the realms of imagination that make life worth living (or create life in the first place). Philosophy is stupid if you’re just out to discuss it, but if you really are down to wonder for the long term then…hey, you’re in the club.

That’s what I meant about men of letters. Who cares about being famous or rich or popular or attractive? Those things just happen. I can’t believe anyone pursues that stuff. For reals. As a certain wise older fellow once told me when I was in a psychedelic induced state a long time ago (FYI: it wasn’t that long ago), there are things in life you can and cannot control. If you can’t control it, don’t worry about it.

Ah, but people have such a hard time determining whether they’re in control. They suffer because they weren’t primed to be rich in this life — they weren’t given the stupid genetic disposition to be a sociopathic business lecher, but they just refuse to accept it. If you want it bad enough, I guess you could get born again into a situation that’s set up to suit your fancy. But look out! That next life might not be you, and you might have some serious karma accrued for the phantasm tollbooth!

This mysterious wise man also told me thus: all the stress in life tends to come from money and possessions. He had almost no possessions and never locked his door. He was also not argumentative or sarcastic like me (grrr…). It all seems pretty obvious, but then I remembered that all my life I’m always stressed out. Yes, even me! It’s true, I’m always looking for something else… Funny, since I never want to do anything, that I’d be looking for something to happen in life, right?

Just having a wallet with IDs, and a car and a computer and musical equipment and people you love. That is stressful! Augh! That’s why monks give it up. They die. They disappear, they are reborn. As monks, head shaven, name changed, they’re all equal inside the pen.

So…since you die in the end, and you don’t take anything with you to the next world except the stupid choices you made in life which left you unhappy — I think it’s more important to die without regrets. Live every moment to the fullest! Which doesn’t mean having sex while sipping champagne and reveling in your mansion, (okay, maybe it kinda does a little) it means to recognize that all the stuff you expect and look for in life is actually here right now.

I guess everyone does the money/sex/power angle because they already figured this out. I’m behind the ball, as usual.


Career Marriage and the Next World

Posted in Buddhism, Christianity, Monasticism, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I’ve heard that if you start a business, you’re married to it. It’s a focal part of your life as long as you’re running it. And the same can be said of most serious careers. Many people seem to be married to their careers, to the extent that they neglect or put off having children. Portions of their lives suffer for their career, which is sad when the career is just for money.

Generally, people want super powers, or to be enlightened, or whatever else. But they also want sexual adventure, fame, and financial fortune. Since it’s pretty damn hard to achieve access to both groups of things, people have to choose wisely (or not so wisely) between their goals. Society at large seems to venerate sex and money, so most people aspire to achieve those in quantity.

People don’t usually think monks are cool. Or the idea of giving up sex just seems beyond them. The thing is, monks (and hermits, priests, wizards, and so forth) are married to a spiritual career. Too many people get obsessed with sex or money to the neglect of everything around them, and monks have that zest too, except it’s pointed at realizing reality beyond conditions.

But you know…it’s not a matter of being a monk or nun. It’s a matter of being married to a wholesome path in general. Lots of folks are married to a path they can’t even see or don’t know anything about, and yet they continue diligently down it. Too many folks are absolutely blind.

That is, too many of us dull the mind in our daily activities. One of the main reasons monks give up possessions, sex and social pleasures is because those things are in direct opposition to a calm mind. Those things ultimately create a tempest where it becomes impossible to tell whether you want to pursue your desires or not; a situation where the individual falsely identifies his/her desires as part of a self.

When you’re in love, ecstatic or infatuated with something, time eludes you — it slips through your fingers. And so do those things or people you love — they disappear eventually. And sometimes the love for things disappears first.

What kind of path can you be married to that won’t spurn a frivolous love and won’t disappear even after you die?