Just this morning I ran across an old Facebook post on someone’s timeline. By old, I mean about three months old. It was of a letter from a political candidate who was predicting food shortages, lack of police officers; basically, general chaos moving into the fall and winter of 2021. The predictions were the typical fear-mongering, laced with a smattering of Biblical references to make the whole thing sound like the coming Apocalypse, and that this was prophecy. Cue the air raid claxons and the faint voices of monks chanting in the background.
Especially in the church, there is a tendency to elevate perseverance to the level of saintliness. Giving up in the face of hardship is considered akin to blasphemy, because, after all, Look at the example of Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Or look to Paul, who endured extensive amounts of torture and imprisonment to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to far off lands. What are our mere troubles when compared to the hardships endured by those two?
Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom, the one who carries the double-edged sword that kills or gives life, asks a monk to bring him something out in the world that is not medicine. The monk searches far and wide, and finally returns, saying that there is nothing out there that is not medicine. To which the master says, “then bring me something that is medicine.” The monk then reaches down and plucks a blade of grass.
The master turns to the monk and says, “This medicine can kill people and it can also bring them to life.”
The trouble with this viewpoint is that it seeks to benefit from faith without putting any work into it. It looks for safety, it looks for rescue and the salvation from eternal damnation, rather than a relationship with God. It is purely practical.
Some old men came to see Abba Poemen, and said to him: Tell us, when we see brothers dozing during the sacred office, should we pinch them so they will stay awake?Read More…