Abbot Philip: ‘No Monastery Dies From Poverty, but from Riches’

“Brother Christian recently gave me an article on the decline of Buddhism in Thailand as that country grows richer.  This is a favorite theme of mine concerning monasticism in the West.  It is clear from history that practically no monastery dies from poverty but quite a few have died from riches.  This is also a wonderful Christmas theme, because Christ became poor so that we could become rich—on the spiritual level.  Christ, who is God, becomes human and takes on our own nature.  This is true poverty. …

Why would anyone want to become a monk today?  The only reason is to seek God.  Seeking God can be done in various ways.   One does not need to be a monk to seek God.  On the other hand, the monastic life, at least ideally, is established to help the monk focus all of his energy on seeking God.We monks don’t always live that out, but it is what we seek in our ideal world.  It does not cut us off from the world in any bad way but it helps us resists being involved in the world in the ways that do not help the inner life.  We don’t have to be anxious about anything.  This frees our energy up so that we can use it to seek God.  Perhaps at times a monk’s energy goes elsewhere, but when the life is orderly, that very order brings back the focus of life to seeking God.

Christ came into the world to save us.  We are able to dedicate our lives to following Him, no matter what road we take.  We monks want to follow Him in a somewhat radical manner, focusing our daily life and energy on Him. May this also be your gift!  Wherever we are, we can seek the Lord and focus our energies on following Him.”–Abbot Philip, Christ in the Desert monastery

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