- The Calling: I loved the bits that I watched from this recent Independents Lens documentary. Looking forward to the DVD:
- Voluntary Simplicity and the tyranny of choice: Social scientists have conducted numerous studies that suggest consumers get overwhelmed by too much choice. While I welcome a large-scale adoption of simpler lifestyles, I haven’t detected a shift in that direction.
At the same time the anti-globalisation and green movements have stirred a consumer backlash against a surfeit of choice. Campaigns urge shoppers to buy locally grown fruit in season, and to shun cherries in winter or green beans flown in from Kenya. A “voluntary simplicity” movement calls on households to do away with excess consumer choice and lead a low-consumption, eco-friendly life. Courses promise to help people shed the distractions and stresses of the consumerist world and journey towards their inner wholeness. Short of turning the lawn over to organic vegetables and selling the car, books with such titles as “The Power of Less: The fine art of limiting yourself to the essential…in business and in life” or “Living Simply: Choosing less in a world of more” suggest practical ideas for cutting down on the effort of decision-making. The advice seems to boil down to shopping less often, keeping less stuff, watching less TV and sending fewer e-mails.
- Young Nuns find Habits Are The New Radical: If you travel through Buddhist countries in Asia, it’s not unusual to come across young men and women who have taken up monastic vows, many do so only for a few years. There are still places where monastic life as a rite of passage is not unusual at all.
For the most part, these are grim days for Catholic nuns. Convents are closing, nuns are aging and there are relatively few new recruits. But something startling is happening in Nashville, Tenn. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are seeing a boom in new young sisters: Twenty-seven joined this year and 90 entered over the past five years.
- Metta Forest Monastery: I really began to understand Buddhist Forest Monasteries while reading Jack Kornfield’s 1980’s classic Living Buddhist Masters. Reading this recent article on Gratitude, I stumbled upon a forest monastery in San Diego County, California!
Metta Forest Monastery is a meditation monastery in the lineage of the Thai Forest Tradition. Founded in 1990 by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco, it is currently headed by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Ajaan Geoff). The monastery is situated near Valley Center, California, at the end of a road in an avocado orchard surrounded by the mountains and chaparral of northern San Diego County. It provides the opportunity for men to ordain as bhikkhus and to train in line with the Dhamma-Vinaya as maintained in the Theravada tradition. It also welcomes interested lay men and lay women to visit and practice the Buddha’s teachings.
… First-time visitors are allowed to stay for periods of up to two weeks. All visitors are asked to observe the eight precepts and to participate fully in the daily schedule of the monastery. This includes two group meditation periods (early morning and evening); two short work periods, morning and late afternoon; one communal meal mid-morning; after-meal clean up; a short period for questions and answers before the afternoon work period; and the rest of the day free to meditate. Each visitor is assigned an individual sitting platform and walking path in the orchard, and is free to divide the time for walking, sitting, and resting as he/she sees fit