urban contemplatives : extra claustrum (in english)

Diesen Eintrag auf Deutsch lesen.

Do you know what I miss? Praying the liturgy of the hours together with other people. One psalm after another, with antiphons and chanted and all that. Well, but on the other hand I have lost the ambition to rebuild for myself some idea of “monasticism” in living room size.

What needs to be explored now is a new type of contemplative practice. That new type of contemplative practice is not shut away anymore, not “klösterlich” (the word “Kloster” comes from “claustrum” meaning “enclosed place”), but extra claustrum.

I was lucky to have stumbled across Raimon Panikkar’s reflections, even though I don’t get everything he elaborates. He says clearly though that there is a shift going on in how monastic tradition is interpreted. I assume that this shift of new interpretation is not going on in the monasteries itself so much. They just try to save what can be saved. How should they engage in renewal?

I was speaking about Buddhist tradition a lot in the last weeks. Today I understand why. While reflecting the shift in interpreting monastic tradition and exploring a new way of contemplative practice, I really would like to avoid to refer to those big terms and themes like St. Benedict’s Rule, the liturgy of the hours, lectio divina etc. A different vocabulary would enable me to reflect on the “plain things” itself. It could help me to not to just repeat old interpretations of monastic practice. And the different vocabulary I use at the time is the Buddhist one.

I am not really happy somehow with the recent interest in monastic spirituality, you got St. Hildegard here, some Gregorian chant there. There is mindlessness, admiration from afar, naiveté etc.

But what shall we do? Maybe this:

  1. In spite of all study the tradition in depth. Also allowing that tradition to approach us as “an other”.
  2. Reflect one’s own practice and discovering what belongs to oneself.
  3. Point out clearly what you cannot adopt (for example sometimes just because of the different contexts).
  4. Find your own vocabulary. Find your own language.

Is that something? Who knows. It’s late.

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