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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wanted: Urban Monks.

"All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else."-Buddha

I really like this striking image--the pagoda speaks of the timelessness of the Dharma while the buildings project the essential, utilitarian-nature of day-to-day modern life. Perhaps some might try and crop out the buildings from this picture believing they take away from the pagoda. But nothing in this world exists in a vacuum--everything exists in relation to everything else. If the world were full of nothing but serene, Buddhist, pagodas full of chanting monks, who would provide the upkeep of this world that must get done regardless of the Dharma? We need "urban monks," as well; lay people who bring the serenity of the pagodas to office buildings, prisons, schools, apartments and every nook of this world. We can touch places and lives that a lot the ordained monks can't ever reach.

I use to want to be a "traditional monk" because I believed it would provide a haven from a world that I perceived of as pure disaster. I didn't realize then how foolish and naive I was being. I was only seeing the disastrous suffering in the the world because I was filtering out the positive stuff. Through meditating upon the pitfalls of perceptions, I became aware that I was projecting the disaster that I was ignoring inside my mind, out onto the world. So, of course, all I was seeing was a chaotic world!! It is a delusional trick that we perform, so that we can blame the world for all our troubles, and not accept our responsibility.

It doesn't mean we're bad people for making these mistakes. You don't blame the baby for shitting in it's pants, do you? It's simply being a baby--and so are we. We are simply being a typical but loveable infant who is trying his/her best to grow. It's natural for a baby to make a mess of things--that's how they learn. How are you going to know that some things are less helpful in your life until you make a mistake?

So, it's o.k. to shit your pants from time to time--spiritually speaking, of course. Shit, itself, isn't bad either. To paraphrase my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, without shit, we wouldn't have roses!! Our mistakes, fertilize the seeds of our good intentions to grow roses of happiness and peace. The key is to not blame yourself for doing something that human's can't help but do--make mistakes. This world itself is imperfect and flawed, so how could we not make mistakes? You are trying, and trying is a pro-active action. A lot of people are too afraid to try, so go easy on yourself.

PHOTO CREDIT: "Hong Kong Pagoda, and buildings" by Stuart Miles for Free Digital Photos.

~may all beings know peace~

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Team Burton said...

Thank you for this post...I find myself feeling "not good enough" in my practice and this post has helped me realize many things about myself.

Ariki said...

Indeed we need urban monks. I've always been cynical of religion as an institution. Surely a monk needs his livelihood secured, so surely he may "bend" the truth a little to ensure he is provided for. Take Thai Buddhism for example. Is it really any wonder that more merit is gained by giving dana to a monk than giving to an ordinary homeless man? I'm sure monks have not intentionally brought this about, but they sure haven't stopped it!

In Pali a monk may be referred to as Bhikkhu (beggar) or Samana.
The word Samana, Shramana in Sanskrit, translates as 'one who strives'.
I feel this term is apt for those of us who do not wish to enter a monastery, yet feel the need to be something more than a mere 'layman'. For don't we strive for better awareness and understanding everyday? Of course we may not achieve such everyday, but at least we try.

Tullik said...

Thanks for this, “it's o.k. to shit your pants from time to time--spiritually speaking”
If that is the case I must be wearing a large depends spiritually these days!! Recently I have been looking for things to attack verbally and criticism has been my first response to most situations. I came through a health scare this year and instead of being happy with a good outcome I think anger has taken over where goodwill and thankfulness should be, go figure!! As one person advised me there was no room for negativity when the defense mechanism is in place and survival was to the fore; now that the risk has abated there is all of a sudden room for some anger and negativity in your words “shite”!!!!

katinka hesselink said...

Just letting you know I featured this post and your blog on my list of best buddhism blogs:

Liara Covert said...

Love how you mention then notion of filters. The mind thinks and sees according to its filters and the heart sees clearly through the lens of love. Whether you live in the city or rural areas is actually irrelevant. The external world is simply a temporary distraction from the inner worlds. You may enjoy listening to an American Monk on Aware talk radio on blog talk (internet) radio.
Check out the archives or listen live

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