Discernment and Legitimisation

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James Miller

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    • Worship from the Hearth
Re: Discernment and Legitimisation
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2019, 07:30:01 AM »
I resonate with so much of this it is hard to know were to start.


I'll try! Following the Ways of Non-Contrivance means cultivating space for "emergent" (uncontrived) contemplative practice. Broadly speaking, the intention behind it is to shape the monastic structures for Black Stone Abbey through guidance arrived at by "bottom up" spontaneous animist intuitions rather than imposing structures through "top down" centralized planning. Following the Ways of Non-Contrivance means creating conditions that invite a certain quality of attentive engagement with the world - an ease that flows from silence, solitude, "doing nothing," and deep listening. There's no way to codify the Ways of Non-Contrivance because they're different for each monastic, and as I understand it, that's entirely by design.

Love this. I think it is good to remember that all the forms of monasticism that we see as 'established' for legit started off very much like we are- bottom up. Be that Buddhist, Christian, or otherwise. In many early forms there was a lot of overlap between "laity" and monks and the hieriarchies were pretty fluid. Folks experimented and over time found what worked, and did so in communities. The successful forms found rule sets and structures that fit their practice and the life they wanted to formulate. It is important to note that the practice comes before the 'rule' for even the vow in most cases. The practice works, then you communicate it and consolidate it into a more formal structure you can communicate and have to keep you on track. Then adjust when needed- communities help with that and broaden the 'experiment'. It has been said that monasticism is also empirical- in that it develops from practical experience.   I think monasticism needs a community- hermits are often, historically, still tied in some way to a larger community in their practices.

There is a Buddhist book called " Living by Vow" and I think it is a great text on vows and monastic life. As mentioned above a vow can be to the attention and right exercise of something, like sex or eating. The Vow is a way for us to live by our intentions and goals and not by the current of the rest of society or our own (often unexamined) habits. I see in this discussion (here and otherwise) a lot of carryover from forms of western Christian monastic and moral philosophy/spirituality that I think and polytheists we have to unpack a bit. I think that is why I tend to look to Buddhists, Mystic monastics (like Eastern Christians), and New Monasticism (like the groups WeepingCrow alluded to) models as they are far less moralistic ,built around contemporary experience, less "top down" and have a lot more gradients built in for practice esp in the moral sense.

For some interesting history "A desert a city" is a good text on early monastic formations.
 I also think about discernment a lot. It is hard sometimes to know how to interpret and make sure 'marching orders' are divine, understood well, or workable. I think a community can help us in that process or give us better ways to follow our callings, and paths. I think sometimes the 'structures' we find in communities of devotees gives us support to follow our paths in healthy ways. 

I really like the Rule of Awen and as I alluded to before I think it reflects a heart you see in a lot of early monastic formation in many traditions. I think and "structure"  and practices we form should support ones divine struggle with that rule.

Early Chrsitianity (and others like Buddhism) like Danica Mentions- generally took its clergy from monastics and even when they had non-monastic clergy their expectations were built off the monastic models. In many forms even the forms for life of the laity is built off of monastic forms as well (you see that in Eastern churches and old Catholics) . Even Monks who did not serve as clergy had a role in the community as part of its evolving life. In some sense everyone's Awen , even as a solitary, has its influence and connection to others.