Open-Source Monasticism (part 1 of 2 @ the Transpositions Art & Monasticism Symposium)

Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Otherhood | No Comments
Open-Source Monasticism (part 1 of 2 @ the Transpositions Art & Monasticism Symposium)

[I wrote this originally for the online Art & Monasticism Symposium, April 30 – May 5, through Transpositions, a collaborative effort of students associated with the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at the University of St Andrews. This is part 1, and part 2 is here. It was featured alongside great posts by Christine Valters Paintner, Cole Matson, Preston Yancey, and Sr […]

Brands, beliefs, practices, objects, rituals and community

Posted by on Mar 12, 2011 in Otherhood | 2 Comments
Brands, beliefs, practices, objects, rituals and community

In developing ideas for an open-source monastic tradition in my last post, I’ve been thinking of religions and lineages as more or less illusory aggregates of individuals and their communities, unified by a common brand more than anything else. Individuals have beliefs. Communities support these beliefs, or they do not. Occasionally, especially in the early stages, […]

Creating an Art Monastery

Posted by on Mar 6, 2011 in Otherhood | 10 Comments
Creating an Art Monastery

Living in intentional community is not for everyone—the idea triggers an autoimmune response in some people, for whom it might signify the sacrifice of personal autonomy and individuality—but once you develop a taste for the stuff, it doesn’t fade. I unabashedly love it.

Since I began this blog-inquiry into monasticism just six months ago, dissecting Taoism, Vedanta, Eastern and Western Christianity, as well as the various vehicles of Buddhism into what I have called the elements of monasticism, community is an element I haven’t written about directly much at all. Yet it figures in my mind as an important piece of what all monasticisms are aiming at. For those individuals who dwell in abbeys, ashrams, friaries, priories, sketes, lavras, mathas, mandirs, koils, gompas, lamaseries, wats, viharas, community is a powerful spiritual practice.

So we’re making a monastery.Living in intentional community is not for everyone—the idea triggers an autoimmune response in some people, for whom it might signify the sacrifice of personal autonomy and individuality—but once you develop a taste for the stuff, it doesn’t fade. I unabashedly love it.

Since I began this blog-inquiry into monasticism just six months ago, dissecting Taoism, Vedanta, Eastern and Western Christianity, as well as the various vehicles of Buddhism into what I have called the elements of monasticism, community is an element I haven’t written about directly much at all. Yet it figures in my mind as an important piece of what all monasticisms are aiming at. For those individuals who dwell in abbeys, ashrams, friaries, priories, sketes, lavras, mathas, mandirs, koils, gompas, lamaseries, wats, viharas, community is a powerful spiritual practice.

So we’re making a monastery.

Economies of Merit

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in Otherhood | No Comments

In many monastic and religious traditions, ethical and spiritual “merit” gets traded like a commodity.1 Nuns and monks agree to live a certain way, abiding by a certain kind of behavior (which their society has deemed the most virtuous or ethical), and in exchange they don’t have to earn their own money to stay alive, […]

The Ages of Western Monasticism

Posted by on Feb 28, 2011 in Otherhood | No Comments

From P. Langdale Hough at Plumblines: From Walled Towns (1919), by Ralph Adams Cram (courtesy of Schmitz). Pages 34 – 35: At the beginning of the Christian the impulse was personal, the individual was the unit, and the result was the anchorites and hermits, each isolating himself a hidden mountain cave, a hut in the desert, […]

Jesus Lama

Posted by on Nov 25, 2010 in Otherhood | No Comments

…the encounter between Catholicism and Buddhism cannot take place at the level of the Magisterium, it can only take place at the level of two contemplatives talking together in private. —Harold Talbott, paraphrasing Dom Aelred Graham, in “Thomas Merton in the Himalayas, An Interview with Harold Talbott” from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Summer, 1992. If the […]

Shambhala Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown on Monasticism

Posted by on Nov 18, 2010 in Otherhood | No Comments

Shambhala Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, in Buddhist Geeks, Episode 146 “Investing in the Future of American Buddhism”: Vince: So before we close, maybe if I could ask a little bit about monasticism, where you see it heading. This is something you said you wanted to come back to. Judith: I think the returns are not in on […]

“Fed manure and kept in the dark…”

Posted by on Nov 16, 2010 in Otherhood | No Comments

Daniel Ingram: An old friend and former meditation teacher of mine and I were ranting in our typically passionate style about this very topic one day, and we came up with the “Mushroom Theory.” Mushrooms are fed manure and kept in the dark, and we speculated that part of the problem was that some meditation […]

The Buddha

Posted by on Nov 1, 2010 in Otherhood | No Comments

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not […]

A Benedictine vow ceremony

Posted by on Oct 23, 2010 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Some of the Labro artmonks recently visited the relatively new Benedictine monastery at Norcia, where an international group of monks sings the entire chant office in Latin every day. The Benedictines are not a centralized order. Rather, each house enjoys a considerable degree of autonomy, since it is the abbot who interprets the Rule for that […]