The reality of the monastery

Are we a real-life monastery?

Yes, of course we are. We are alive, and we are all very real.

Of course I know a few people who view our efforts with a furtive glance cast upwards likely toward some leering sky-god, and likely accompanied by a sly, knowing nod. For such people, we are at best “some website.”

And they’re right, we are a website. Here’s a few other websites:

  • Amazon — a dominant online retailer. Where are the superstores?
  • Dudeism — a slow-growing worldwide religion. Where are the temples?
  • Netflix — a media force of nature Where are the Blockbuster-like stores?
  • Twitter — where are all the Twitter kiosks? In Starbucks?
  • Medium — and yup, here we all are, with not a single building in sight.

A few years ago, I co-founded a software start-up. We opened an office, which was all about high tech. Lots of free coffee, big TVs and crisp, inspiring color palettes. But did we really need it? No, so we closed the office and today we are no less a start-up without an office than when we had one. I do the same thing with my building commissioning business. I have a home office and have been running my business and website that way for over 10 years.

Would we like a real-life monastery? Sure. It could be nice to have a place to put computers, hang posters, stack important books, do prayers and walk in gardens. Maybe we could have a little store and sell coffee mugs and mala beads. Even better, we could wear our robes and hang ‘Clergy’ tags from our car windshields. But would it change our mission? No.

The Monastery’s Three True Sayings

The thing is, our Three True Sayings impart the value of being a monastery, virtual or otherwise.

TRUE SAYING 1

The monastery is in each of us

Things can become problematic to teach and embrace if, by having a physical location, we imply that a monastery can only be a chilled-out physical place, a place where you sit on a cushion or languish in the gardens. Truth is, we need monasteries that work in ways that we can relate to in everyday life. (I’m not disparaging brick and mortar monasteries, but simply saying there’s a place for both.)

TRUE SAYING 2

To be calm and relaxed — on behalf of ourselves and all that we affect

Again, where best to relax than in everyday life? I’m not going to argue that it’s better to sit down as a family at least once a day and have a meal together. But the reality is often very different; we are on the go, pulled this way and that. Similarly, it’s great to have a special place/time to meditate and relax, but life has become frantic and a race to survive. So, what better place to be able to relax than smack in the middle of all those deadlines?

TRUE SAYING 3

We are the monks and nuns of everyday life

Well, that just sums it up, doesn’t it? Because we don’t ask people to come to services once or twice a week. We don’t pass an offering plate. Instead, we encourage you to find the service within yourself, and if offerings are to be made then make offerings of your own life.