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I think that Monasticism had its time and place

From:  "Mark Vetanen" <mark@v...>

Date:  Tue Feb 3, 2004  4:13 pm

I think that Monasticism had its time and place. I am skeptical today about the practice of monasticism. Let's discuss why.

First I think that monasticism has lost its purpose and focus. Today such centers have become little more than psychological out- patient clinics or they are like the Salvation Army where the workers are paid like any common job.

Second I think that current spiritual life has become too much of a drain on the organizations and its supporters. Even the Trappist monastery here in Oregon now makes Christmas fruit cakes and other baked goods to sell for its own support. They get meager donations from the general public and nothing from the Church in Rome. In this environment, the monks have to work 9 to 5 to just eat.

To illustrate this further, recently a person who is living at a Zen Buddhist mountain retreat center told me that she is being worked so hard that she is finding it difficult to meditate because of being too tired and there is no time for book study or discussion. This is all due to the fact that the organization is suffering from a lose of income, like all businesses in the last 2 years, and is looking at its community to make up for the difference by working in the world as we know it.

Third is that the community at large does not even know of their existence. I bring this up because without the community to support the monastic center it then is useless to the community at large and the persons who live in the community feel isolated and useless as well. My own view is if the community at large knew of the sacrifices and the mission of the monastic center I believe they would help to support the monastic residents and this would bring benefit for all beings.

Forth is that there is no monastic committee of Standards or monastic judicial review for conduct. By this I mean most so called monastic organizations have no method to review the conduct of their own members, to report conduct of a member or to even review its own rules that may be one sided or out-dated. The members and the community at large need a method to communicate to each other and resolve problems when they arise. Because of this breakdown we are seeing what we see with the pedophile priest that we now are finding out that the community was complaining about for many years before the story went public. A public committee of standards or a judicial review committee would have ended any abuse or criminal active like pedophilia at first notice and not let it continue for years on end.

Fifth is that the power structures of most all monastic organizations is top down. This only leads to corruption and abuse. To really solve the problems the organizations needs to be formed like the Shakers, with elected elders who sit on committees. Also members from the outside need to be involved, on the committees, to balance out views.


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