Monastic Activism

Monastic Activism November 30, 2016


Several things I have read recently imply The time for reflection is over, now is the time for action! People describe our situation as a conflict between contemplation and decisive action. They believe we are at a point in history that demands impatience.

Personally, I do not see practicing reflection and practicing activism as opposite paths. Separating reflection from practical behavior seems to be part of the problem, not the solution.

The monks I know teach me important lessons and give me examples to follow.

The Power of Listening

Monks are good listeners, even when they do not necessarily agree. I have witnessed monks listening to each other, and to me, in very persuasive ways. Monks often appreciate the power of listening to help someone else understand themselves.

Monks are even able to listen well via social media, which can be challenging.

Active Contemplation

Some people experience contemplation as passive. They lose patience with sitting still, seemingly doing nothing.

Monks tend to recognize the effectiveness of reflection. Spending time in reflection helps us know what we believe more deeply, more personally. We clarify our own values and ideas, as well as how we present them to others.

Practicing our Values

Listening and reflection prepare us to act in more meaningful ways. We are not reacting or arguing from fear or anger, we are sharing our true selves. We are not working to defeat an adversary, we working to create or restore community.

Monks have shown me that contemplation and action are not opposite, not separate. Reflection and practice fit together and feed each other.

Now is the time for contemplation and action, for reflection and standing firm.

How do reflection and action fit together for you?

When do you put your deepest truths into practice?

[Image by Teacher Dude’s BBQ]

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