White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
The Order's Brochure
The very first word of the Rule of St. Benedict is 'Listen!' — Ausculta! — and all the rest of Benedictine discipline grows out of this one initial gesture of wholehearted listening, as a sun flower grows from its seed.(Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B. Cam. in his book A Listening Heart: The Art of Contemplative Living.)
The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict dedicate themselves to let compassion be real among all sentient beings. They live actively in the world and are not of it. They may be married or single, in any walk of life — and yes, from divergent religious traditions. Yet, each finds a commonality in the preciousness and dignity of life. They sense that an effective way to insure this preciousness and dignity is to practice compassion.
The Monks live their life according to an adapted version of the Rule of St. Benedict, the foundation stone of Western monasticism. Their Rule provides for a meditation practice know as zazen. They follow the advice of David: Be still and know that I am God. (Ps 45 <46>:10). The specific practice is that the Soto Zen tradition teaches in the writings of Dogen. Dogen brought the Chinese chan practice to Japan where it became Zen. Thus the Holy Rule blends Zen and Catholicism. Catholic in the sense of neither Roman nor non-Roman, but Catholic as the historical Christ originally taught. Christ opened his arms to everyone and accepted everyone without question. He turned no one away.
Christ gave only two commandments: Love God, Love your neighbor. (Matt 22:37-39, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27) In that the word "monk" derives from monos meaning "one, " a monk simply realizes through monastic practice Christ's prayer: Father, may they all be one as you and I are one, that they may be one in us. (John 17:21) His prayer becomes the central theme of the Order. Buddha's prayer May all people be happy and at their ease. May they be joyous and live in safety (Metta Sutra) becomes the central goal. Some say there is no difference in their prayer. What is love but compassion; compassion, love.
If you sense that Christ or Buddha (to name only two) reflects unity before one and two — and recognize the limitation of words to describe the essential nature of life, then perhaps the White Robed Monks are for you. Their monastery is the world. Their practice is to only-just sit. Their aim, without trying, is to be compassion. Initially they give their life structure through The Holy Rule. Eventually, as it is the case with true Zen being no-Zen, so too, the true Rule is no-Rule.
The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict are neither right nor wrong. They realize that all they perceive — their thoughts, feelings, actions — are like beauty. They practice carrying out their activities as usual in the world without loosing the sense of who they are and what they want to accomplish. They listen to all life communicating. They practice mindfulness. They practice mindfulness.
More could be said. What has been said is probably more than enough.
Membership any church is not a prerequisite to be a White Robed Monk. If there is a prerequisite, it would be the desire to let the world be a more compassionate place and to commit to a sitting meditation practice.
For more information, please refer to Father Abbot or to the following documents:
White Robed Monks of St. Benedict
Post Office Box 27536
San Francisco CA 94127-0536 USA
Page URL: http://www.whiterobedmonks.org/osbbro.html
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