Is this any progress in the World?

USB wall

I’m looking at USB port located very convenient way in the wall of my home and this provoking to to reflections about progress in the World. If we are talking about progress we usually have in mind technology, science or the economy. But what about moral progress?

My answer is optimistic: Yes! I believe that many events from the past just can’t be happened today. There is still a lot to do, however understanding mistakes of previous generations and have courage to apologize is the first step to the positive change and the first step of avoiding the same mistakes again. A good example of this are Veterans who have ask Native Americans for forgiveness at Standing Rock in December 2016.

As a Benedictine Sister I will apologize Native Americans for abuse in Catholic residential schools. I will not feel rights to continue my Benedictine journey if I don’t do this.

Psychological research in Canada and the USA link the boarding school traumas of abuse, neglect and separation from family and culture with very high rates of suicide, drugs and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and violence and ever health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Native Americans in USA still need financial compensation for Boarding Schools. Canadian Indian Boarding Schools survivors already get financial compensation, but according to lawyers there is not legal possibilities to ask for the same in USA. All what we can do is just healing post-traumatic stress (PTSD). But we can always apologize and promise never do this again. This apology can be a sign of our moral progress and the growing level of the perfection of our conscience.

Love itself was gone!

In Sanskrit:
“Gate gate pāragate
pārasaṃgate
bodhi svāhā”

English translation:
“Gone, gone, gone beyond,
gone altogether beyond.
Oh what an awakening! All hail!”

(From probably the most famous Buddhist scripture:
Heart Sutra)

***

There are not too many so deep spiritual songs in popular music. However Leonard Cohen, after six years of experience in Zen Buddhist monastery was able to create the one special song. This is Love Itself from album Ten New Songs (Columbia, 2001). Composition of the lyrics was inspired by talk of Sasaki Roshi.

The song Love Itself is such beautiful example of poetic expression of the spiritual experience. Voice of 67 years old Leonard is amazing.

Love Itself
(Lyrics: Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson)

The light came through the window
Straight from the sun above
And so inside my little room
There plunged the rays of love
.
In streams of light I clearly saw
The dust you seldom see,
Out of which the nameless makes
A name for one like me
.
I’ll try to say a little more
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door
Then love itself
Love itself was gone
.
All busy in the sunlight
The flecks did float and dance
And I was tumbled up with them
In formless circumstance
.
I’ll try to say a little more
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door
Then love itself
Love itself was gone
.
Then I came back from where I’d been
My room, it looked the same
But there was nothing left between
The nameless and the name
.

All busy in the sunlight
The flecks did float and dance
And I was tumbled up with them
In formless circumstance

I’ll try to say a little more
Love went on and on
Until it reached an open door
Then love itself
Love itself was gone
Love itself
Love itself was gone

And here some more explanation by the monk:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSv5ELuujjs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why bad things are happened to the good people?

Why bad things are happened to the good people? Why God agree to this? Why God not stop people from doing bad things to others?

We discussed this topic recently in out community. We prayed first to Saint Benedict and ask for the blessing of wisdom to understand this topic.

 ***

I remember the same discussion and questions we asked to our professor – bishop and philosopher in Department of Theology of our catholic university. His answer was simple and just enough good for me. God giving the free will to people. God not choosing what people have to do. People are choosing this by themselves. If God will stop people to do wrong things this will be against free will.

However people around me still asking the same question and not accepting answer from my professor. Lets ask Saint Benedict and listen what he will say.

 Sister: Dear Saint Ben, tell us please why bad things are happened to the good people?

Saint Ben: Why you asking like this? Why you say: “good people”? Do you believe in difference between “good” and “bad” people?

 Sister: You are right Ben. You know me, I believe that are people are good. Only people’s behavior can be bad or good.

Saint Ben: We are not perfect.If all people are good is better to ask: Why good people doing bad things?

Sister: Yes, tell me why? Your life experience is a good example. Why monks from your first monastery, who choose you as an Abbot try to kill you after? Do you believe that they are “good monks”? They are just ordinary murders and they should go to Hell. How you can explain this?

Saint Ben: I have learned a lot after stay in this monastery. First, only limited number of high spiritually gifted monks will to be holly. Average kind of monk looking just for peace. Its not mean that they are bad monks. They are good people and dedicated God’s servants. But like in every profession, also in the Monastic Profession only few are true genius or holy people.

Sister: But some of them are killers. They put poison to your wine!

Saint Ben: This is because I was too hard for them. I was demanding a lot from myself and start to demand from others too. It was not this what they want. I demand to eat less meat, drink less wine, eat more simple vegetarian meals, drink spring mineral water, not waste time, study more, discuss meaningful topic and pray more.

Sister: It was the real reason to kill you? I still cant believe that they did this and don’t understand why? Tell me why? Why? Why?

Saint Ben: I was shocked too. I will not ever discuss this with them but just leave monastery in peace. You should remember that It was tradition to choosing Abbot for lifetime. If they decide that choosing me was a mistake, only one way to get rid of me was to kill me. It was not punishment or limit to kill slaves or labor workers without explained reason. Duel was for knights and noble people. For kings and formal leader was only the poison.

Sister: But they were monks! Don’t they understand that killing is a deadly sin! How you can explain this Ben? I don’t understand!

Saint Ben: Do you know that the Bad Spirit usually trying to attack religious people much stronger that any others? They were just in complete power of the Bad Spirit in this moment. I’m praying to God for forgiveness for them. The Bad Spirit is able to change the mind of good people like this. There are really limited number or people who are doing wrong things intentionally. They want kill me because they believe that this is God’s will to remove me from this monastery. They believe that I’m against vision and mission of this monastery because I was thinking about rewriting the monastic rules. But they have already they own rules and they don’t wish to have any change. They really believed that they are doing something good by getting rid of me.

 Sister: Do you know who put poison to your wine? Is not possible that everybody love you, no matter who you are. But most of the monks loved and admired you.

Saint Ben: Yes, only few were against. I know who put poison to my wine and I’m still praying for this person. I want God to forgive this monk and give him wisdom of understanding and eternal peace in Heaven.

Sister: Tell me yet where was your first monastery. People guessing about this that this is a place where are Franciscans now, but nobody really know.

Saint Ben: I can’t tell you. If God want this monastery to be forgotten, it has to be forgotten. God want people to remember me from Monte Casino only and nobody ever know where are graves of monks who put poison to my wine. But I learn a lot from this monks and a lot of inspiration to Rules came from them. I will never forgot what the teach me. Rules are much more liberal because of them.

Bad thing can be happened to good people, however we are able to learn ever more from bad events that from good. Bad events are not able to kill our true spirit if we are in good relationship with God who leading us to realize our true call. God will reward us ever more if we are open to listen his voice and if we are forgiving and kind to our enemies.

Bad events can also wake us up and helps learn the true about the World and people around. Bad events can make us more mature and less naive, but hopefully also more understanding and kind for the weak and sinful others.

monk
Picture from the book “The Monk” by Matthew Lewis
(first published in 1796)

 

 

 

 

 

Immortal Diamond

Can be something greatest and nicest in community than read the same book the same time and discuss the content?
This is what we are doing in our Saint Anna Community. We are reading now a book by Richard Rohr “Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self”. My book is from Edmonton Public Library (First edition, 2013, published by Jossey-Bass).
There are some of my reflections after reading:

In the chapter about enlightenment we can read a lot about dying. This is because dying means letting go. On the way to enlightenment, to discover the True Self, to find Immortal Diamond we also have to let go our False Self. This is like dying.

Buddhist believes that many people who was not able to reach enlightenment during life are able to achieve this state in the moment of death. Death can be very interesting or ever exciting experience. Special if we face this moment with full and open consciousness.

However after enlightenment mystics are not afraid of death anymore. This is because thy was able to let go everything and find the True Self – the Immortal Diamond. They are already living in Heaven. They are for ever in Heaven and nobody is able to take this from them.

Richard Rohr writing about this (p. 54):

“The True Self not really “go to heaven” as much as live there already”.

 

 

Meaningful conversations

On September 30, 2016 I was formally accepted ans a member of online Saint Anna Monastery based in Minnesota. Saint Anna Monastery is a “daughter” of Benedictines from Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pennsylvania which belongs to Federation of St. Scholastica. On October 3rd, 2016 I received a new monastic name: Anna Maria and became a sister of sixteen other Annas. If one of the new woman wish to join us, you are more than very welcome!

There are really smart woman in our community. This is really a big pleasure for the mind and balsam for the soul to have friends who are able to keeping longer discussion on meaningful topic without jumping to meaningless chatting. I will write about our present conversation in the next post.

I just noticed very beautiful sunrise sky from my window. I will make photo and bring here to invite you to enjoy this with me. You can notice snow on the street. We have had the first snow in the middle of October this year, before the leaves get a chance to turn yellow, orange and red.

img_1832

Base in Edmonton

Starting from August 6th 2016 my activity is Edmonton base. I fall in love in this city from the first view. Clean, modern, growing place build around the North Saskatchewan River. There are a lot of trees in the city. You can see typical to the North climate long and slim pine trees. City is very clean, fresh, modern, growing. Everything is new, recently build, shining, sparkling. Edmonton has been a city since 1904. Now Edmonton is the most northerly city in North America with a metropolitan population of over one million. We have oil and diamonds, but the most important, precious and good for economy is fact that we have now baby boom in the city. I will thank you God to bring me here. This is a grace of God, pleasure and honor to have the opportunity to bring my service to the place like this.

(Photos by author of the blog)

I have started from meeting people of the same interest connected to spirituality and suddenly small and growing spiritual community was created. Because I moved to Edmonton during the Feast of the Transfiguration I have named my new community Transfiguration Monastery. This is New Monastic community, apostolic, inter-spiritual. We are still in way to find the right space for our meetings and practice. But we are together, united, happy and this is the most important thing.

I have contacted the closest monastery to find spiritual director for myself and continue to growth my spirituality. I will be frequent visitor in this monastery. I’m also part of online community called Saint Ann Monastery, affiliated with Benedictines of Erie, based in Minnesota. This is all very helpful.

In beginning it was also a lot of close to the earth things to do like applying for my Alberta health insurance card, exchange drivers permit, shopping for house and home equipment and of course advertising my service and growing the business to make stable base for realization my spiritual needs and to help others.

 

The End of my time at the Mother of God Monastery

July was beautiful and peaceful for me. However a big surprise was happened on the last days of the month. My Formation team decided that God calling me to something more than just stay in South Dakota, and this monastery is not able to fulfill all the needs of my soul.

This is true that monastery is closing down partially. In 2015 one Novice left monastery. This year, in 2016 only one sister with temporary vows decided that this is not her call. Who left, only sisters with final vows, or sick woman.

Sisters decided that this is not place for full of energy, creative and strong person and very good educated scholar like me. It was hard to agree ad leave alone so lovely old sick sisters. However I believe that God send me to this monastery just to help me learn something. I am really grateful for this. But now I am getting from God more advance mission that just relaxing in the peaceful monastery on the country.

It was also really a big surprise for the rest of the sisters. Many of them cry and I get a lot of hugs and kisses during the last two weeks of my stay. It was really nice closing of my monastic adventure.

This is the end of the Mother of God Monastery in Watertown, SD, USA. The end is for me of course, not for them. They apologized for this situation and I’m forgiving them. They planed something else for me and for themselves. I wish them a good happy the rest of the life and the peaceful death at the end. Part o my heart will be forever with them.
God bless them! Amen.

This is also interesting answer to my question from time before I join this monastery: “Why is so little vocations to monastic life today?” Do I have an answer?

There are a lot of great values in the traditional monasticism. However we need probably different, new communities in World today. We need communities more attractive to the majority of the new generation. But what kinds of communities? Is this my call now to discover this? I don’t really feel ready to answer, but will continue this topic later.

cropped-path.jpg

Path near the monastery