I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Carol Studenka's wisdom on living as a monk in the world:
Can I really call myself a monk in the world? Surprisingly the answer is yes?
Over the last few years, I have had many changes in my life. Among them has been finding my way to including meditation practice in my daily life. What began seven years ago as a ten minute a day practice, has now become a practice that is integrally woven into every thing I do, including writing this essay.
The question of How do I live as a monk in the world is an intriguing one. I would never have defined myself as a monk in anyway. I am quite worldly as a matter a fact. I drink. I smoke on occasion. I love sloth. In general I indulge in what the world has to offer. The world itself is a moveable feast as Hemingway once put it.
Recently though while being involved in a Meditation Teacher Training Program at the McLean Meditation Institute, I was required to read a book by Marsha Sinetar, Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics. My first thoughts on seeing the title of the book was that I would in no way qualify for either of these parts. My life was not dedicated to God or a Divine Source, but was dedicated to finding the best of my self, feeling at home in my own skin. In no way could I see how these two ideas might be connected.
In her book Sinetar defines the Universal Monk as “one who learns to listen to internal voice of discontent…their newly structured lives force them into intimate and growing relationships with their inner voice…listening is not usually possible in a distracting world.”
As I read this, I realized meditation practice had put me in this exact position. So did daily meditation make me a monk? I wasn't quite ready yet to say yes.
Further on in the book Sinetar brings up the idea of a secular monk. This seemed more in line with my visions. She states the secular monk is driven by an inner call. One that leads to a life that endeavors to penetrate the inner truths of life. These questions were already a part of my meditation practice…who am I, why am I here, what is my heart's desire, how can I serve.
These questions, these truths began to show themselves more frequently in my daily life.
Who am I? I see the beautiful scenery in which I am fortunate to live. How can I not see God in the mountains or the moody way the clouds can settle in to their nook and crannies? I am a part of this world. I am a part of the divine. I am infused with love. And I am grateful.
And so it goes. Why am I here? I go to the grocery store and let the woman who is holding a few groceries, but has worked all day to go in front of me. I am retired and have the gift of time. I am a monk in the world.
I answer an email to one of our Meditation Teachers in Training. I have listened to her. She has shared a joy or a sorrow with me. I am here to be her connection. I am a monk in the world.
Can I prove this in any way? Not really.
Can I tell you how obstacles in my life now melt away? Can I tell you I ask and receive? I can. Still it is not stories of magical happenings, it's really all little things. I have a thought about needing money. As in meditation, I let go of the desire and just connect with the love, with the Divine. Suddenly a few days later, a check in the mail.
What is my heart's desire? To know at my deepest core that I am divine love radiating in the world.
How can I serve? To be love and joy and a source of light in the world.
Too much…Maybe…But for me, it has given me a way. I am a monk living an ordinary life in my own quiet way..which is of course why I so much love the title of the group here too..Life is a holy disorder and I go out into my daily ordinary life sprinkling a little of the connections, sharing my love of meditation with anyone who will listen, and always, always dancing with the Divine Love and Joy found within my soul.
My life-long passion is teaching people to find the key to unlock their own door. For me meditation is that key. After 30 years of teaching in Detroit, I now live and work in Sedona, AZ for the McLean Meditation Institute as a program assistant for the Meditation Teacher Training Program.