religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, …usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
I believe in life. It is the one thing I am certain of — that I am alive. I think therefore I am.
I believe in being present. Who really knows what happens after death or if my soul was floating around before birth? I certainly don’t know. So why focus on anything but what I know for sure? I know I’m alive so I am devoted to making this life and the lives of those around me as wonderful as possible.
I believe in being open in heart and mind. I believe in love over fear and ego. I believe in the basic foundational morals that all world religions teach.
I believe that my religion is a philosophy on living, something that I am learning all the time — it’s inevitable! Either I learn and grow from life or I let it break me and become cynical and weak. I believe in strength, in the best forms.
I believe that living can be an art. Life is never going to go as planned, it’s never going to be perfect. I believe in taking that imperfection and using it as vitamins for personal growth.
I highly believe in letting go of the fear of ourselves, to really question our thoughts and our actions, to take charge of what we do and how we do it.
My studies and practices center around positive continuous evolution, love, and peace. This is my belief system and although it’s a philosophy, my devotion to it doubles it as my personal religion.
monastery: a house or place of residence occupied by a community of persons, especially monks, living in seclusion under religious vows.
The world is my monastery. Life is my monastery — a place I live and learn. Everyone here in this world is my community, constantly teaching me things and aiding evolution. I am very thankful for that.
monk: a man who has withdrawn from the world for religious reasons, especially as a member of an order of cenobites living according to a particular rule and under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Finally, the whole monk thing. For my religion of life, I have “ordained” myself as a female monk rather than ‘nun’; I just like the sound of it better.
I have chosen to withdraw from the human world of easy reactions — jealousy, hatred, depression, rage, etc… and instead embrace love, compassion, and giving. I still remain very in tune with the world as a whole, just not the shallow world of unquestioned emotions that breeds harm to others.
Poverty? I enjoy the finer things in life as much as anyone else, but I don’t believe in over-indulgence or reliance on them. I believe in getting by with a comfortable and practical lifestyle. I don’t believe in giving up everything for living on the streets begging for others to support me; it’s unhealthy and pointless. I don’t believe the path to becoming an awesome person comes from punishing myself. A good life is not one that is deprived or depraved. It comes from being humble about your lifestyle and belongings. Not relying on expensive fancy things for happiness. They’re great once in a while but never when taken to excess. I would like to replace the word ‘poverty’ with ‘humbleness’.
Chastity? While in modern culture it stands for sexual purity, it is also defined as freedom from obscenities. For myself, I define that as freedom from obscene emotion; the aforementioned easy human reactions that cause so much suffering for themselves and others. Chastity from negative extremes, from prejudice, from allowing myself play the victim. Humans have natural desires, and while they result in negativity when pursued to excess, repressing them is unhealthy. Be human but be healthy. Pursue what gives pleasure, but without doing harm to self or others. Chastity from negative thinking and negative behavior.
Obedience. To myself. Respecting myself and my values. While I always know deep down what’s best for myself, what would truly make me happy, it’s so easy to betray my own knowledge and go down the easier path of excess, indulgence, blaming the world for how I feel. It’s so easy because then I won’t have to face myself and my faults, but I would be disobeying my true self and as a result become cynical and downtrodden. I will always focus on being the best for myself, because then I can be the best for others and the world. I will obey my own beliefs and strive to become the change I wish to see in the world.
Freedom from suffering: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” –Yoda
While instinctual fear is necessary to keep me alive, emotional fears lead to dependance, anger, envy, sadness…all that induces suffering. It causes hatred, war, conflict, prejudice. I believe in deeply enjoying human connection, but not relying on it for my emotional well being. Freedom to me is being able to find happiness and thrive in any situation. As the Buddhists teach: craving leads to all suffering. I believe in wanting certain things, but not requiring them. Not needing someone to be a particular way for me, not needing the approval or understand of everyone, not expecting materials or other humans to be the key to finding my own happiness. Detached from needing things to be happy, but very attached to being involved with life and everything in it. Just not craving, not requiring. Being able to sustain my own happiness in any situation — that is true freedom.
Warrior Monk: ““[They have the ability to] achieve an extremely focused mental state. With balance and concentration, the monks can withstand any negative force directed their way.”
Shaolin monks spend exorbitant amounts of time strengthening themselves mentally and physically, trying to become the ultimate version of themselves. They’re doing it out of devotion for their life and their beliefs. They keep their mind and body strong so that they can be peaceful inside and proactive outside when needed. Peaceful and proactive. This may be my personal secret to life.
While a lot of my life monk beliefs are based upon and majorly inspired by Buddhism, I have modified the basics to fit my own beliefs and values. It’s my life right? I will devote myself to it the way I feel is right for me. I want to enjoy my life to the fullest while being the best I can be for myself and the world “monastery” I live in. I want to walk my own middle path. I want to be my own lantern.
And most importantly…
To have fun. Enjoy life! My worship for it is demonstrated by how much I can love and live every moment to the fullest. Smile and laugh, never take anything too seriously — ever. Be entertained and excited by the wabi sabi of this imperfect life. Live passionately and with no regrets. That’s it.