August Turak

Author Consultant Speaker

The Poor Monk

I was given this moving piece from a monk at Mepkin Abbey. It was written by an annoymous monk and spread from monastery to monastery. It is such a wonderful description of the spirtual path that I've decided to share it here on my blog.

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The Poor Monk

“The purpose of the monastic life is to discover reality. In order to do so, one must remove from one’s vision what is false and fraudulent – the artificial, the constructed. Everyone wants to do this, so monks are not freaks for wishing to discover the truth. However, it is far more difficult than it would seem, and that is why not everyone is willing to go to the trouble or stay with it. It is hard. Let us face it, it is hard.

Very well. You came this far. The world did not catch you. The flesh did not take you. You are one with the will of God. This is indeed to master life and to come to know its secret. It is indeed.

Now what? Having gone out into the marvelous desert of freedom you look around. There are two beings: one is you and the other God. All is loveliness for a while as you bask in the sunlight of God’s glorious presence. It is only with time that something new is added to the satisfactory situation. The added note is insight.

The newly invited guest is so taken up with beauty of the place and the graciousness of his host that he is not aware of his gross appearance, his lack of breeding, his awkward manners, his wretched impression. And as it gradually dawns on him his first impulse is flight. But the host will not let him go, begs him to remain, assures him of his love, promises that all will be well. And God waits and watches to see if you believe him, if you are willing to hold your ground and abide with your misery.

And then begins earth’s loveliest dialogue, the most beautiful of all love stories. An affair with no end, the sweet exchange of intimacies between pauper and prince. Nothing ever written has captured, reproduced, or conveyed it. Of this every human love is but a faint echo, a small version, a sample, a test run.

The capacity of the human heart for this love is infinite, for the human soul is immortal. All human passion for gain, conquest, intoxication, and high estate – all surrender and submission – are gestures in the right direction, but are not enough. They are futile efforts.

Yet, in order to enter the heart one must pass through the very fires of hell, the dragon’s pit, the deep dark waters. Of this, people are indeed frightened. The greatest single obstacle to God is fear. We are literally frightened to death. We fear God, people, ourselves, time, eternity, life, and death. Monks too know fear. But in the spirit of God we must go ahead anyway. Otherwise, we do not walk the road of the first Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God.” That is what it is to be a poor monk.

– Author Unknown