In all poor countries, where general culture is not very advanced, monasteries give to the masses the silence, poetry and music, for which their souls unconsciously yearn. As soon, however, as a people grows prosperous, educates itself and finds its own distractions, the need for convents or monasteries disappears. Simple-minded folk imagine that the suppression of the religious orders means the decay of Christianity-but they forget that monasteries existed in India and in China, long before the birth of Christ. Christianity did not invent them, but the monasteries of the time gradually adopted the new faith. Actually, all such institutions are quite contrary to Christian ideals, for Christ's teaching, above all else, enjoins activity.
Admit that the press transferred the pontificate of Rome to Henry VIII-Admit that the press demolished in some sort the feudal system, and set the serfs and villains free; admit that the press demolished the monasteries, nunneries, and religious houses; into whose hands did all these alienated baronies, monasteries, and religious houses and lands fall? Into the hands of the democracy? Into the hands of serfs and villains? Serfs and villains were the only real democracy in those time. No. They fell into the hands of other aristocrats. . . .
Sometimes, sitting there on the cushion failing to watch your breath, it can feel like you're the only weirdo weird enough to be wasting your time in this way. But you're not! There are generations of weirdos, monasteries full of them, and we have the benefit of their accumulated wisdom.
it may be worth while to note again how often finely developed skulls are discovered in the graveyards of old monasteries, and how likely seems Galtons conjecture, that progress was arrested in the Middle Ages, because the celibacy of the clergy brought about the extinction of the best strains of blood.
During the last 2,500 years in Buddhist monasteries, a system of seven practices of reconciliation has evolved. Although these techniques were formulated to settle disputes within the circle of monks, i think they might also be of use in our households and in our society.The first practice is Face-to-Face-Sitting.
Institutions develop because people put a lot of trust in them, they meet real needs, they represent important aspirations, whether it's monasteries, media, or banks, people begin by trusting these institutions, and gradually the suspicion develops that actually they're working for themselves, not for the community.
Those who were unjustly evicted from their homes, merely for saying, "Our Lord is Allah." Were it not that Allah repels people by means of others: monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques-where the name of Allah is mentioned much-would have been demolished. Allah supports whoever supports Him. Allah is Strong and Mighty.
Canoes, too, are unobtrusive; they don't storm the natural world or ride over it, but drift in upon it as a part of its own silence. As you either care about what the land is or not, so do you like or dislike quiet things--sailboats, or rainy green mornings in foreign places, or a grazing herd, or the ruins of old monasteries in the mountains. . . . Chances for being quiet nowadays are limited.
Canoes, too, are unobtrusive; they don't storm the natural world or ride over it, but drift in upon it as a part of its own silence. As you either care about what the land is or not, so do you like or dislike quiet things-sailboats, or rainy green mornings in foreign places, or a grazing herd, or the ruins of old monasteries in the mountains... Chances for being quiet nowadays are limited.
One of the most persistent fallacies about the Christian Church is that it kept learning alive during the Dark and Middle Ages. What the Church did was to keep learning alive in the monasteries, while preventing the spread of knowledge outside them... Even as late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, nine-tenths of Christian Europe was illiterate.
Margaret E. Knight
A split personality can never become non-greedy. It can try, but it can never become. A split personality can never go beyond anger. It can try, but it can never go beyond. A split personality can never go beyond sex. It can fight. So many monks in the monasteries are doing it. They don't go beyond sex; at the most their sexuality becomes perverted, their love becomes poisoned.
Henceforward the Christian Churches having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, came into the hands of the Encratites: and the Heathens, who in the fourth century came over in great numbers to the Christians, embraced more readily this sort of Christianity, as having a greater affinity with their old superstitions, than that of the sincere Christians; who by the lamps of the seven Churches of Asia, and not by the lamps of the Monasteries, had illuminated the Church Catholic during the three first centuries.
The idea of Christian perfection, which began in the ancient monasteries and spread to the world as an ideal, is one of the most appealing, demanding and ultimately hopeless notions of the spiritual life. By definition, only God is perfect-that is, complete and independent unto [God's] self. Humans, on the other hand, are radically imperfect, and that, paradoxically, is welcome news, for the recognition of our incompleteness throws us on the mercy of God and enables us, as Saint Paul stressed, to put up with one another's faults.
Provided they live a worthy life, both those who choose to dwell in the midst of noise and hubbub and those who dwell in monasteries, mountains and caves can achieve salvation. Solely because of their faith in Him God bestows great blessings on them. Hence those who because of their laziness have failed to attain salvation will have no excuse to offer on the day of judgment. For He who promised to grant us salvation simply on account of our faith in Him is not a liar.
Symeon the New Theologian
Christianity ... has produced the iniquities of the Inquisition, the egotism and celibacy of the monasteries, the fury of religious wars, the ferocity of the Hussite, of the Catholic, of the Puritan, of the Spaniard, of the Irish Orangeman and of the Irish Papist; it has divided families, alienated friends, lighted the torch of civil war, and borne the virgin and the greybeard to the burning pile, broken delicate limbs upon the wheel and wrung the souls and bodies of innocent creatures on the rack; all this it has done, and done in the name of God.
Oh, no, Cameron; I believe we're born free of sin and free of guilt. It's just that we all catch it, eventually. There are no clean rooms for morality, Cameron, no boys in bubbles kept in a guilt-free sterile zone. There are monasteries and nunneries, and people become recluses, but even that's just an elegant way of giving up. Washing one's hand didn't work two thousand years ago, and it doesn't work today. Involvement, Cameron, connection.
The period of Catholic ascendancy was on the whole one of the most deplorable in the history of the human mind. . . . The spirit that shrinks from enquiry as sinful and deems a state of doubt a state of guilt, is the most enduring disease that can afflict the mind of man. Not till the education of Europe passed from the monasteries to the universities, not till Mohammedan science, and classical free thought, and industrial independence broke the sceptre of the Church, did the intellectual revival of Europe begin.
William Edward Hartpole Lecky
Suddenly I began to find a strange meaning in old fairy-tales; woods, rivers, mountains, became living beings; mysterious life filled the night; with new interests and new expectations I began to dream again of distant travels; and I remembered many extraordinary things that I had heard about old monasteries. Ideas and feelings which had long since ceased to interest me suddenly began to assume significance and interest. A deep meaning and many subtle allegories appeared in what only yesterday had seemed to be naive popular fantasy or crude superstition. And the greatest mystery and the greatest miracle was that the thought became possible that death may not exist, that those who have gone may not have vanished altogether, but exist somewhere and somehow, and that perhaps I may see them again. I have become so accustomed to think "scientifically" that I am afraid even to imagine that there may be something else beyond the outer covering of life. I feel like a man condemned to death, whose companions have been hanged and who has already become reconciled to the thought that the same fate awaits him; and suddenly he hears that his companions are alive, that they have escaped and that there is hope also for him. And he fears to believe this, because it would be so terrible if it proved to be false, and nothing would remain but prison and the expectation of execution.
When a man kills another man, the people say he is a murderer, but when the Emir kills him, the Emir is just. When a man robs a monastery, they say he is a thief, but when the Emir robs him of his life, the Emir is honourable. When a woman betrays her husband, they say she is an adulteress, but when the Emir makes her walk naked in the streets and stones her later, the Emir is noble. Shedding of blood is forbidden, but who made it lawful for the Emir? Stealing one's money is a crime, but taking away one's life is a noble act. Betrayal of a husband may be an ugly deed, but stoning of living souls is a beautiful sight. Shall we meet evil with evil and say this is the Law? Shall we fight corruption with greater corruption and say this is the Rule? Shall we conquer crimes with more crimes and say this is Justice? Had not the Emir killed an enemy in his past life? Had he not robbed his weak subjects of money and property? Had he not committed adultery? Was he infallible when he killed the murderer and hanged the thief in the tree? Who are those who hanged the thief in the tree? Are they angels descended from heaven, or men looting and usurping? Who cut off the murderer's head? Are they divine prophets, or soldiers shedding blood wherever they go? Who stoned that adulteress? Were they virtuous hermits who came from their monasteries, or humans who loved to commit atrocities with glee, under the protection of ignorant Law? What is Law? Who saw it coming with the sun from the depths of heaven? What human saw the heart of God and found its will or purpose? In what century did the angels walk among the people and preach to them, saying, "Forbid the weak from enjoying life, and kill the outlaws with the sharp edge of the sword, and step upon the sinners with iron feet?