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Rock Garden, Ryoan-ji: japan-guide.com

Life in a monastery

Occasionally I visit our local Shingon Temple. I go there because I feel like I'm welcomed. To me, this temple is symbolic of the life of service and contemplation, that is, life in a monastery. I've met some inspirational monks in the past. I've often wondered how did they get to be a model of simple living for me.

You can think of life in a monastery from a social perspective. It seems to me, in monasteries monks follow sets of social rules. Some people feel comfortable living this way. Although I admire the monastery setting, I've never wanted to stay in a monastery. We're all of different personalities.

But I can see clearly, how a monastery life can lead one to a blessed way of living.

I went to Saint Francis Xavier grade school in Missouri when I was 9 years old. This elementary school had grades from 1 to 7, and about 70 students in all. This very small Cathotic school had only two teaching nuns. Sister Mary Francis Inez was my teacher for 2 years. She taught grades 4 to 7. I was with her all day in school for 2 years. In my heart, Sister Inez, is a Saint.

This grade school was in the heart of downtown Saint Louis. It was next to a large Cathotic girls high school with many nuns. [1] I went there for piano lessons. We would walk about 5 blocks down to Grand Blvd to attend mass at the glorious St. Francis Cathedral. I was deep in religion when I was a small boy.

I think being religious can lead to a happy life. Modern science has tragically crushed religious views for some people. This might be all right if you're human and compassionate. But the enlightened religious person gets to see love in people right there around him in the monastery. In monasteries, it's not the meditation, chanting, worshipping service, etc. It's the love. Step out of the monastery, and it's the same. It's the love.

[1] For the first time in my life, I witnessed the monastery life within a large group of nuns.