Laying Yourself Bare is a Spiritual Practice

sent by: CLARKE SCOTT |

This week has been a week of pushing through some kind of weird virus that meant I was so utterly exhausted I found it hard to walk, much less work.

Yet despite this, I somehow got 60 hours of work done and the 30-Day Challenge, a follow-up to the 7 Days course, completed.

Not without a cost though. My teacher often pointed out this fault to overwork, in what I like to call, “Tinglish” (Tibetan-English), by saying “Rest you must. Body not iron.” Too often I push until I fall down.

But the upshot of this is that I do get a lot down and feel incredibly satisfied once it is all completed, and that is how I feel right now.

Enjoy this week’s edition of The Contemplative Life

What I’ve Been Thinking

The purpose of writing as a spiritual practice is to lay bare the foundation of your true self.

But to get there you will need the following 5 things in alignment:

  1. Meditate Daily: Develop a daily practice of some kind.
  2. Notice “Stuff”: Keep a meditation journal to capture what comes up.
  3. Read Widely: Preferably at night before sleep.
  4. Be Honest: Practice radical honesty towards yourself.
  5. Write Daily: Begin to formulate your thoughts into longer ideas.

(bonus: use a knowledge management system like Obsidian for your writing.)

Do these five activities daily and things will shift in ways you cannot imagine.

What I’ve Been Reading

I’ve been reading The Sign of Jonas by Thomas Merton. This is his journal on the years after he joined his monastery, and it is marketed as the follow-up to the wildly successful, Seven Story Mountain.

It’s a fascinating read and despite the fact it had to go through a board that censors (all material produced by his order of the Catholic church have this privilege) it reads as an honest and true account of monastic life.

A deep spiritual reaction against all this involvement occurred when I wa ordained deacon. It was a gesture that may or may not have had a profound meaning to me. I thought it had some meaning. What it meant, I am still not sure. But I decided to stop trying to be a poet anymore. I did this first of all because I realized that I had never really been a good poet anyway, and it seemed to me that by continuing to write poetry I would only be imposing an illusion on the people who thought my poetry was good. In so doing, I would run the risk of coming to believe, myself, that is was good. What I was trying to do was, I think, all right. It was a movement toward integrity.

The Sign of Jonas p.127

Notice how he is noticing what is coming up, is being radically honest about it, and yet gentle at the same time. Writing, for Merton, was an act of contemplation, not narcissism. Laying himself out on the page was an act of courage and beauty and with the motivation to grow from the experience.

I also picked up a few new books including:

Enlightened Vagabond: the life and teachings of Patrul Rinpoche.
This book is translated by the wonderful French monk Matthieu Ricard. I had dinner with Matthieu in Thailand many years back, just before he was about to go into a long retreat. He has a big and genuine contemplative heart.

The Meaning of Christ: a Mahayana theology.
This is an interesting book that takes Mahayana Buddhism and gives it a Christian setting. Or perhaps it is the other way around. I’m not sure! LOL

Either way, I will write more about these in the coming articles.

What I’ve Created

This week, I created follow-up content and a practice guide for the popular 7 Days to Deeper Meditation email course this week.

I’ve done this by creating a 30-Day MeditationChallenge that will help implement the theory of the free course and allow you to ask questions and get feedback.

What you get with the 30-Day Challenge:

  1. 30 guided meditations
  2. Bonus meditation masterclass course
  3. Weekly live call
  4. Online student portal community

You can find out more here

And finally, I will publish the article on the dream I had of my teacher’s death in the next few days. It took longer than I imagined and hoped, and was delayed in part because of the 30-day challenge content. However, I also believe the article is better off for it, as it gave time for the prose to appear rather than it being squeezed out.

I wanted to add the audio for the article before hitting publish too and this took way longer than I thought. now that the 30-Day Challenge content is up and running, and all the silly little sales pages and whatnot that are a necessary evil are in place I can get back to the thing I love most, writing.

Take care,

Clarke Scott

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