Anchor for this item posted by Bernard (ben) Tremblay at Wednesday, August 27, 2003; Wednesday, August 27, 2003

"The koan arises naturally, in daily life." I have apparently been alone in wanting my daily life to have the quality of life that one finds in a monastic setting. At least, alone recently, since this notion comes to me not from speculation but, rather, from experience: once through Roman Catholicism (in a "formation house", where individuals considering the priesthood lived together in anticipation of their vocation) and once in a Soto Zen Priory. I have never wanted any other form of life, and know this again from experience: in the 70s, enjoying the fruits not only of having had a high paying communications job in the arctic but also the profit from some rewarding investments ... all this on top of the good salary from a responsible position with this country's national broadcaster (CBC Radio); no joy ... lovely home, vehicle, clothes, diet, entertainment, travel ... no joy. Having raised 5 kids in the hills of glorious Cape Breton, I know the splendour of the lord in his manor house ... but no joy. Without suggesting that a practice environment is for everyone, I can help but wonder aloud why and how it is that this situation seems to be available /to nobody/! I have, for these decades muttered (under my breath, most times) that a world without communal living would be the death of me. Well, things have come to pass where this may be the case. After 11 years on disability, I am not so empoverished as to be in continuous suffering (though the short rations do damage quite on their own), but I'm vulnerable to situation ... and without a communal instinct, the world is one of "devil take the hindmost". Is nuclear family and rugged invidualism the only expression of dharmic life? Is the only alternative traditional monasticism? Have we not learned that /beyond independence is _interdependence_/? Can we pretend that this small planet will support billions of splendid individuals? /Who/, I ask, can dissolve the chimera of individualism if not engaged buddhist?! At 49, with bad feet, after a pretty hard path, I'm looking at the prospect of homelessness. Let there be no talk of sane society or compassion here: what I see is self-serving cant and hypocricy, just the sort of thing that one would expect from a souless cult. Is that what we really have? Isn't seeing things as they really are a key principle? Is the Buddhist project motivated only by personality politics? Perhaps I am alone in seeing the great good of living communally according to a set of fine principles such as those offered as abhidharma ... but I can't believe that to be so. And those others who feel as I do, shall they as well be drowned in an ocean of egoistic consummerism?


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