No future can hold
The promise of the now
Shining through the cracks
A monastic life is an attempt to reclaim time. Growing up in today’s society, time has molded itself into a future shape. We study to become something or someone, we date to build families or otherwise meaningful lives, we have a vacation to be able to work harder later on, we work hard to be able to have a nice vacation. We are living in a constant push of accumulation towards a better future: more visibility, more love, more things, more time, more credibility, more acclaim, more creativity, more enjoyment. The future-oriented approach of time and the need for accumulation are one and the same thing. By portraying a life-to-come, life gets colonised by projections. Of a better one. Which makes it quite difficult to appreciate the one we actually have. Right now.
This upward soaring curve of accumulation stands in stark contrast with the downward curve of our life span, which inexorably leads us to a gradual physical and mental decapacitation. The painful awareness of the growing distance created between both, is a source of gnawing frustration.
The monastic life tries to save time by decolonising it from future projections. There is no accumulation necessary in the monastic life. Nothing to achieve in particular, although a lot can be done. Each day looks pretty much the same, although every moment is experienced as radically different. It is a rather ‘monochrome’ life, in which the nuances only become visible on closer inspection. And this is the time we are given everyday: to practice life in every moment. To be there for the other, and for the things around us: the plants growing in the garden, our body practices, our reading, our working. To practice really being there and listening to the other. To make the meditation become life itself. In all its appearances.