Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
A friend just shared with me a new booklet titled, New Monasticism, by Rory McEntee and Adam Bucko, which I am making available below (in PDF form) for anyone who is interested.
“We assert that new monasticism names an impulse that is trying to incarnate itself in the new generation. It is beyond the borders of any particular religious institution, yet drinks deeply from the wells of our wisdom traditions. It is an urge which speaks to a profoundly contemplative life, to the formation of small communities of friends, to sacred activism and to discovering." ~ McEntee and Bucko
“Time is not an accident to life, or to Being…Each existence is tempiternal…ever old and ever new. Our task and our responsibility are to assimilate the wisdom of bygone traditions and, having made it our own, to allow it to grow. Life is neither repetition nor continuation. It is growth, which implies at once rupture and continuity. Life is creation. If creation is an act of contemplation, as Plotinus says, real growth would be to reenact in a contemplative way our partnership in the very creative activity of reality.” ~ Raimon Panikkar
I like the word tempiternal and its description, reminiscent of the always already and the not yet. Also that it describes our forum here, in that although virtual still a community of friends focused on sacred activism and discovering. Or rather, creating and enacting new spiritual horizons in our monastery.
I look up from this document not with a sense of having read a vital text or encountered and important presentation of evolving truth -- but rather in a mode of affirmation and mild chiding.
Affirmation for the idea that the "interspiritual" planetary monastic spirit, while it may overemphasize contemplative idealism, is nonetheless a key part of the production of new inter-religious (that is to say "actually religious") activity on this planet. Which, in turn is critical for the establishment of a robust, organic, self-enhancing planetary civilization.
Chiding for the relative in-utility of a manifesto in this regard. That is to say, this feeling is not new, detecting it and calling it out does not require any great skill, the pre-existing adherents of this feeling are all around us. A new monasticism will flourish simply given new monasteries, new robes, etc. But they do not need new cries which simply reinforce the fact that their values exist.
The Buddhist sangha to which I belonged came from a long, noble line in China & Indonesia but they had made certain conclusions about de-emphasizing the robes, scaling back on the performative practices, trying to work with people "in the world but not of it". Yet this could also be seen as having given too much away, merging too deeply with the banal logic of contemporary consumer capitalism. Appeasement. McLuhan was right to criticize the vulgar translation of the Catholic liturgy. Protestantism, despite its valid sources, was wrong to think that spiritual life lay in the individual conscience poring over an old book -- rather than in the bio-cultural pageantry of transpersonal energy networks.
It was once the case that "in the world but not of it" meant semi-reclusive monastic, ashramic or experimental religious communitarianism. Today it means valuing those things, as we value all things, and returning to a lose version of ordinary life. The danger of such instincts calling themselves revolutionary, even evolutionary, could be extreme.
More than any manifesto to which people could agree, simply having places for people to go, or having a "shirt" they are required to wear which enacts the values of a manifesto... there are real symbolic engagements waiting to occur while statements of trans-traditional values proliferate endlessless and, apparently, without much worldly force.
That said -- I'm all for it!
Yeah, we need an IPS t-shirt and bumper sticker! Slogan? Maybe taking a snip from Balder's description of the forum: "Trace the horizon." I like it because one interpretation could be Derrida's trace and Caputo's notion of horizon.
Po'meta is Betta?
"IPS: a mo'betta po-meta"
Very gangsta, I like it.
IPS sounds a lot like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). This could contribute the obscenity with which many bumper sticker's are charmingly imbued. IPS: Noises from Religion's Disturbed Intestines. The Endlessly Penultimate Grumbling of the Divine Colon. The Agitated Ass-End of Ultimate Reality. These all might be a little wordy...
Images. Christ crucified just off to the side of the cross, a little out of phase. Inconceivable Cthulhu dressed as Buddha. Krishna shrugging. Derrida & Muhammed passed out on a couch together with a crack pipe.
IPS: Does doubt really exist?
IPS: Everything is Absolutely Relative
IPS: Randomness is a Name of God
IPS: Thinking Our Way Out of a Wet Paper Bag
IPS: Finally -- definite proof that God sort of exists!
IPS: I "believe"!
LOL, nice! Some folks have said the name of this forum sometimes spontaneously morphs into Integral Postmenstrual Spirituality for them ... I-PMS .... lots of promise there ...
On the IPS / IBS theme:
IPS: Irritating Ass-holons Since 2008.
I haven't read this booklet through in its entirety, but I've read a good portion of it and have skimmed the rest, and share some of your feeling about it, Layman: I agree with many of the values expressed and am happy to support any efforts to further cultivate and nurture them, but I'm also a bit perplexed by the way this is presented. Perhaps my understanding of "monk" is too narrow -- I know Teasdale expanded its meaning for the interspiritual movement in his book, A Monk in the World -- but I'm not really satisfied with how it is being used here in this document, since it seems more like a dilution than an evolution. It doesn't make much sense to me to refer to a "new monasticism" if what you are mostly looking at is people trying to live spiritually meaningful lives in the world, inspired by but not necessarily bound to any particular tradition. We could call that a lot of things, such as post-traditional spirituality or post-institutional religiosity, but "new monasticism" doesn't seem quite right -- if there is no LR network or structure of any kind to support it, if there is no "habit," if there is no "rule," etc. New monasticism, as it is described here, seems so far from monasticism that the word should probably just be left behind.
The "Integral Monastery" project of Dawid, a member of IPS, seems to be much more deserving of the name "new monasticism" than what these authors are describing. Perhaps also the voluntary communities envisioned by Alasdair McIntyre (where people gather in local communal groups where virtues can be cultivated more intensively and in ways difficult to realize in modern social settings, but without withdrawing from the world altogether).
For this thread to be a fruitful one for IPS (beyond the rad t-shirt ideas), maybe we can brainstorm a little on what a "new monasticism" would look like.... (Years ago, I used to dream about opening a retreat center or founding a spiritual community; I guess I still have that bug in me somewhere.)
I agree that the idea of monks/nuns in a monastic community requires a, well, monastic community. A place where those involved are dedicated to a spiritual quest full-time, like a full-time job only 24/7. Granted it needs funding for those involved to survive, but the community could have its own business, like making incense or wine, whatever. But the idea is a full-time commitment to the practice which of course requires some sacrifices in terms of full-time business jobs and full-time families, etc.
It would be interesting to try to create a monastic center that was largely self-sufficient in a cutting-edge way, perhaps in part by using the sorts of technology Rifkin advocates, and/or by using the autopoietic organization envisioned by the Austin group I told you about, the Autopoetic Cooperative. In the latter form, the monastic community might function more like a modern village -- akin, maybe, to Auroville, or a more spiritually focused Arcosanti.
Approached differently, a "new monasticism" might involve, in existing urban settings, more of a "floating" order: not a permanent new home, but more of a retreat-like center where people spend part of each year living in such a community, but the rest of the year out in the world in their own homes or apartments (though still following a more relaxed 'monastic rule' or discipline). Something like this arrangement already exists with some existing monasteries, so this wouldn't really be new, but this could be "new" to the extent that this kind of organization is the central guiding archetype (rather than an adjunct one).
I think people could form monastic or "active contemplative" communities by committing to meet regularly -- for devotion, meditative practice, formation, dialogue, communing -- as well as a commitment to some kind of service in the world together. There needn't be one particular center, although certainly there would be advantages to having such a place. Gatherings could take place in volunteers' homes, and/or people could pool funds to rent occasional gathering spaces. Contemplative Outreach (the organization Keating started) is starting to offer courses and retreats focused on contemplative living and contemplative community. At any rate, "monastic" groups operating outside of traditional monasticism are not new -- the Beguines and the Beghards of the middle ages were semi-monastic lay Christian groups in which individuals did not renounce property or take formal vows but devoted themselves, as part of a community, to prayer and caring for the poor.
Thanks for the link to the booklet, Balder.