The limits of unMonastic life are legitimate. We do indeed choose to suffer perceivable deprivation. So much is this the case that we as palpably human beings are forced to turn to the pleasures and potential pleasures of communal living in order to renew our zeal. Although occasions of bacchanalia are mentioned in our literature, at the moment of writing we have not yet succumbed to rites of sexual abandon. And since neither appreciable amounts of the dance nor audible song have entered our repertoire,
our renewal mechanisms are reduced to bad jokes, genuine caring and pure human warmth as shared in our two daily ritual circles and the universal sacrament of mealtimes.
The inherent conflict between our existence as a willing service institution and the more central experiment as a lifestyle choice is now under trial. Repulsed by our insularity some seek refuge in the fleeting pleasures of fieldwork; while others, perhaps feeling dissatisfied with the superficiality of their field presence, retreat to the confines of the manageable chores within the unMo walls. By-passing one another has now become a routine occurrence. The unMonastery has sprung a leak…
The clearest manifestation of leakage is in our legendary morning practice. Despite the impressive documentary footage shot by a radio-steered helicopter on the morning of our Grande Opening Feast, we have only once celebrated full attendance. The assembled non-multitudes do the best they can, and almost routinely lift their somewhat comatose morning spirits to levels of minor euphoria. However, we have yet to articulate the value of this activity in integrating and consolidating the collective. Instead of something one meets keen, prepared and eager, it has been reduced to serving as an optional augmentation to the wake-up call. Few have proven willing to see beyond their own precious selves in this equation — not reckoning that their negative presence inevitably subtracts from the positive and that those who do choose to re-invent our fellowship in concentric flights of visceral fancy, do so in the shadow of those who succumb to temptation of another 20 minutes under the warm sheets. It is noted that the absentee rate from breakfast is appreciably lower.
That this heartbreaking dis-integration is not subject to alarm is in itself alarming. The investment in the ensemble is the duty of every unMonasterian. It is certainly something worth getting out of bed for. In the pre-unMo literature this challenge was designated as “Creating the We”. For the ego-bred urbanite such an investment in our own ‘intergratity’ seems not to be second nature. Can a certain fevour be renewed without resorting to inorganic strategies? Fortunately, we can turn to the wonderful world of paradoxical therapy that suggests us that for the chronically tired, one trick is to awaken earlier.
This may not be the only diagnostic window on the health of our order; it is however ridiculously easy to count the attendant heads.
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