Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Lawrence Freeman, in his book Jesus, The Teacher Within, addresses throughout this book the question of Jesus to his disciples:

Who Do You Say I Am?

Early in this reading Freeman remembers some of his own teacher's thoughts (Father John Main) about the importance of "questions" vs "answers" saying:

We have reached the point, John Main believes, where we do not need more answers, instant diagnoses and solutions. We need to relearn how to listen, humbly and profoundly, to the redemptive questions.

Freeman, Lawrence (2011-09-05). Jesus the Teacher Within (Kindle Locations 312-314). Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd. Kindle Edition. 

When is the last time you googled the right question instead of googling the right answer?

What are the redemptive questions for our lives?


Friday, August 28, 2015


The absurdity of certitude is life’s most seriously damaging narcotic. It accuses us of our shallowness and hollows out the soul. Doubt is uncomfortable, yes, but doubt always leads us beyond the present moment to the kind of moments that call us to greater truth, deeper wisdom and a more adult measure of the self.

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (p. 154). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015



Go Dawgs!

Knit one and Purl Two!

The question haunts us from dawn to dusk, from night to day. Exactly what is a woman? What is a man? Or better yet, what is a “real woman” and a “real man”? And whatever the answers, how do we show it? The issues that characterize this problem of identity are more than simple scientific ones. They are socially cataclysmic. Everywhere children learn young that invisible social barriers separate them from the fullness of themselves. Males— boys, in particular, who do not epitomize definitions of the manly man— who suppresses emotion, exudes physical prowess, and emphasizes sexual conquest— are excluded from contemporary social life for reasons far beyond their control. They are small boys who play with dolls— and are laughed at for doing it. They are young male teenagers who prefer to learn to knit or dance or sing rather than be athletes and so are hounded to an early grave because of it. They are grown men hiding the truth of their sexual identity from their mothers who want them to get married and produce grandchildren. Or they are young males hiding their softness from fathers who want them to drink hard and kill animals, rather than write poetry or join the local theater group. They are men who learn to feel diminished by doing “women’s work” like babysitting or child care. They are grown men who grow up full of self-hatred for not being muscle-bound and autocratic, loud and overpowering of others, sure of themselves, demeaning of others, rough and tough and controlling. They are men with sensitive hearts who love to hold their children, who kiss their sons and teach them to cook, who encourage their daughters to greatness, who have no expectations of being waited upon by women who have full lives of their own to live. And yet they spend their lives questioning their identity to the point that the questions themselves are madness-making. Only when we all come to the point where “masculinity” can claim for itself the kind of feminine freedoms to love and cry and care which the psychologist Carl Jung speaks about can men become the fullness of the real man they are meant to be. It can only happen when the rest of us begin to realize that the questions we’ve been asking about what it means to be a fully developed person are themselves wrong. The great question of life is not so much, What is it to be masculine or what is it to be feminine? The great question of life is, What is it to be human? Then, the humanity of all of us will be safe. Then the humanization of the human race will really be possible.

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (p. 100). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Friday, August 21, 2015



When in the soul of the serene disciple
With no more Fathers to imitate
Poverty is a success,
It is a small thing to say the roof is gone:
He has not even a house.

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.

Be still:
There is no longer any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.

Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a memorandum.
There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction.

What choice remains?
Well, to be ordinary is not a choice:
It is the usual freedom
Of men without visions.

Is this not realizing Ordinary Mind?


Sunday, August 16, 2015


From John Armstrong’s     How To Worry Less About Money

Money can purchase the symbols but not 

the causes of serenity and buoyancy. In a 

straightforward way we must agree that 

money cannot buy happiness.


A good life is still a life. It must involve a full share of 


loneliness, disappointment and coming to terms with 

one’s own mortality 

and the deaths of those one loves. To live a life that is 

good as a life 

involves all this.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Where Are You Going and Why? STOP!

Sister Joan Continued...


The nice thing about the human body is that it wears out. It wears down. It can, as the Rule of Benedict says in chapter 64, be “overdriven.” To be more precise, the Rule is talking about the abbot or prioress in the chapter when it says, “They must so arrange everything that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from.” The point is clear: Good leadership does not ask more of the worker than the worker is capable of doing. Whatever happened to that kind of wisdom? And how much further can we possibly go unless we rediscover the value of such an insight? The really interesting aspect of such an ancient directive is that it was written in the sixth century, before lightbulbs, before humanity could do little or anything about extending the day into the night and veritably erasing the difference between the two. In those days, when the sun went down, people went to bed. “Make hay while the sun shines,” the farmers said— and for good reason— since there was surely no way to make it otherwise. Days were measured from sunup to sundown. They were not divided into shifts. Darkness covered the earth and with it came silence, and rest, and recuperation time in preparation for the day to come. It was a far cry from a world in which the Internet links the ends of the earth twenty-four hours a day. 

Before the Industrial Revolution engines did not continue to pound out bottle caps long after most workers went home for supper. Trucks did not race on in a mad dash to link the world’s cities so that packages of widgets would be delivered in twenty-four hours and modernity could triumph. The writing did not go on late into the night. The offices did not stay open. The problem solving did not continue. The schoolwork did not begin after the parties ended. Yesterday’s work did not get done in the middle of the night so that tomorrow’s work could start again in five more hours. And human beings were not taking sedatives to cope with stress or drugs to calm down. The medical community was not warning people about the effects of sleep deprivation. And surgeons were not beginning another operation at the end of an eighteen-hour day.

We drive ourselves relentlessly from one exhaustion to another. We pace our societies by the pace of our computers. We conduct the major relationships of our lives— both professional and personal— according to the speed of our communications. We measure ourselves by the amount of our productivity and every day we become more exhausted, less rested in body, spirit and mind, and so less capable of producing things, let alone of developing relationships, as a result. That’s not irony, that’s tragedy. And though we know it, we do not know what to do about it. Now the question is a simple one: Are the ancient insights only that: ancient? Or are they wisdom because they have been carried down to every generation and found to be true?

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (pp. 72-73). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Don't Give Your Soul To An Institution!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cllutter Clouds Our Vision, We Can't See What Matters

To have everything is to have nothing. Overwhelmed by quantity we lose all awareness of life crystallized into small pieces of joy and insight and gratitude. It is the death of the soul.

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (pp. 52-53). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, August 10, 2015


I  posted the below to all my granddaughters on their blogs. It is a continuation of my reflecting on my decision to retire.

Dear Lovely Ladies,
This month I am writing the same thing to all of you. Right now Papa is pondering his retirement from his present vocation. There is much to consider in this kind of decision. Mostly, the decision surrounds the AMOUNT OF MONEY ONE WILL HAVE TO LIVE ON.

How much is enough? What does it mean to live?

Regarding the "how much?" question:

Not as much as one would think if we have our spirits aligned with the truth regarding the second question.

Many see this major decision as a financial decision, especially those of us who have been saturated in Capitalism.

What do I mean by that?

In her chapter titled The Emptiness of Accumalation, Joan Chittister writes:

In a capitalist society consumption is a national virtue. It is its backbone, its engine, the mainframe at the very center of the society. We measure our society’s well-being by keeping precise records of the amount of consumption we do. We use percentages to signal how much better or worse we were at buying things this year than we were last. We celebrate our gross national product when we never even consider calculating our gross national distribution of goods, and we define buying as a sign of national health. It’s buying, after all, that sustains the economy. And sustaining the economy is what a capitalist system is all about. “The chief business of the American people,” President Calvin Coolidge said, “is business.” 
At the height of the worst national tragedy in U.S. history, the 9/ 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, President Bush ended his first television message to the American public by telling them that the most important thing they could do in the face of such a devastating attack was to “keep our economy going … to go shopping more.” The whole world must have drawn breath on that one. 

In the face of the first foreign attack on U.S. soil since the War of 1812, in the middle of the smoking rubble that carried the ashes of over three thousand civilians, there was something about the message that rang hollow, that broke the heart, that lacked soul. No talk of 
discovering reasons for such an attack. No talk of reaching out to allies in the Middle East. No talk of bringing the height of U.S. justice to this devastating situation. No talk about being our spiritual best at such a time as this. No, the god who would save us from this disaster, Bush was clear, was the god of the free market.

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life 

I wish I could say my spirit is perfectly alligned with the "truth" but I am one of those people who likes to shop, confusing what I "need" with what I "want". I have been, like you, saturated in the virture of consumption.

Chittister continues:

And yet, why wouldn’t we be a society of consumers? What other basic value do we learn in a world where developing excess want is more important than meeting basic needs? In societies such as these the people who manage to accumulate the most things are considered the most successful. So we sell and we buy and we buy and we sell, all of us trying to catch up and keep up and get more tomorrow than we had yesterday. We live in a whirlwind of exchange where we market to three-year-olds on the television sets in their playrooms and begrudge retirement monies to those who spent their whole lives making the very things we want everybody else to buy. The problem, of course, is that the never-ending marathon of marketing that is required to maintain such a system is now sucking the rest of the world into it, as well. Poor societies, which cannot afford the goods we buy, make the goods wealthy societies consume at lesser pay and great cost to the quality of their own lives. At the same time, the quality of our own lives, drowned in adult toys and public playthings, are just as surely being smothered by them, too. Judging from the front page of every newspaper we print, every television program we watch, every deteriorating school and bombed-out neighborhood and pitted road and overloaded electrical grid and homeless family in the nation— in a nation awash in the flotsam and jetsam of things— there’s something missing that is far more important than the gadgets we have chosen in its stead. We are bartering our souls for the sake of what will be tomorrow’s refuse.

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life 

So what is the answer? How does one make this decision in a responsible way, knowing we still have to "live", pay our bills and eat? Is there a different kind of "retirement planning" That can make this decision easier?

Chittister ends her discussion this way:

...The price we pay for the accumulation of things is a high one. For the rest of our lives we are condemned to fear the loss of them and to live forever with the taste of continual insecurity in our mouths, unending neediness in our hearts and the inability of soul to enjoy what we have and be grateful for what we love. 

The things of the soul— the joy of life, the love of beauty, the gift of friendship, the integration into nature, the pursuit of truth and the depth of the spirit— grow in open land, bare of the baubles of life, free of frenzy and devoid of the chaos of accumulation. Then we are rich. Then we are strong. Then no one can take anything away from us because we have already relinquished it. Or, as the philosopher Epictetus wrote: “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life 

Chittister helps me to see what a great "spiritual adventure", not a "financial adventure" I have before me now.

What a great risk it is to feed the spirit and not the ego!

It is the Gospel!

It is dying and rising!




Sunday, August 9, 2015




"...Worst of all, sooner or later we all discover the most egregious element of all about security: It is not only bogus, it is out of our hands. It is totally dependent on outside influences and circumstances over which we have no control, never did have any control, never will have any control. If you’re Rockefeller, the stock market crashes; if you’re on welfare, the government cuts the stipend; if you’re Bernie Madoff, the police come. And what, in the middle of the night, do you do then to assuage yourself of anxiety, to convince yourself to get up the next morning? There is only one way to deal with security: Don’t worship it; don’t count on it. But at the same time, understand that the universe is friendly. Something else is waiting for us over the next dune. As the ancients imply, for every dead and uprooted tree, there is another forest of young ones waiting to take us in. Risk, the willingness to accept an unknown future with open hands and happy heart, is the key to the adventures of the soul. Risk stretches us to discover the rest of ourselves– our creativity, our self-sufficiency, our courage. Without risk we live in a small world of small dreams and lost possibilities. Risk prods us on to become always the more of ourselves. It is the invitation to the casino of life."

Chittister, Joan (2015-02-24). Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life (p. 35). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Once you align with the mind and will of empire and success, your spirituality focuses on perfection, achievement, performance, attainment, and willpower. This "ladder theology" has dominated much of church history, both East and West, down to our own time.
From Rohr's Daily Meditations

My guess is that it is very lonely at the top. I prefer what Rohr refers to as the "spirituality of imperfection"


Saturday, August 1, 2015


I think I experienced what Dr. Benner is speaking of 

below when I looked at this picture of one of my 


Not so much the texture as it was moving from 

my mind to my heart. Maybe heart isn't the 

right word. Maybe "becoming one with" would 

be a better way for me to put it.

But then I went back to his picture and truly felt 

with my eyes the textures.

It seems to be an expereince of embodying.

Maybe even an experience (using Rohr's word) 

of oneing.


Awakening always involves leaving our minds and coming to our senses. Awareness is the dynamic engine that drives this process. Awareness draws us into our bodies, puts us in touch with inner and outer realities, and mobilizes us for action, not simply reaction.
In ordinary consciousness our awareness is primarily focused on our thoughts. These form the core of the intermediate world that exists between ourselves and reality. This is the world of our prejudices, pre-judgments, categorizations, and biases and it is through the filter of these things that we view the world beyond us. But experiencing the world through this filter is not the same as experiencing things as they actually are. It is experiencing ourthoughts about the world, rather than directly experiencing the world. The distance this provides from the raw reality of things as they truly are may keep us comfortable but it always leaves us out of touch with reality.
This is the state of being asleep that spiritual teachers in all traditions urge us to awaken from. Our senses are a portal through which we can begin that awakening process. Suddenly they bring us into immediate and direct contact with reality. They bring us into our body and they put us in immediate contact with our environment.
But full sensory awakening doesn’t just happen in a moment. It needs to be cultivated. As we begin to leave our mind and come to our senses we begin to notice that eyes do not just see, they can also feel – just as fingers can see and noses can taste. Look carefully at the above picture – letting your eyes touch it, not just see it. Feel the textures. Slowly let them guide you across the surfaces they present. Feel them with your eyes. And notice what you experience in your fingertips as you do.
The world is full of textures, harmonies, wafting aromas and presences, subtle changes of temperature and energy, and an infinite variety of tastes. Don’t be content with what you think you already know about the world. Dare to open your senses and engage the world afresh each day. This was what Jesus was encouraging when he repeatedly urged his followers to listen, keep watch, and be vigilant. And what is it that you should be watching for? The possibilities of new and renewed life that is within and all around you.
Prepare to awaken and see the world through new eyes, the eyes of your heart. Prepare to see new places where Divine is incarnate in the world which you have failed to notice. And prepare for the new birthings within you that always accompany fresh awakenings.
Dr. David G. Benner