Holy Water

Even monasteries have to make ends meet. While the idea of having no plans and no attachment is nice, the reality is that bills have to be paid, and plans carefully laid, especially where things are done on a low budget. Monasteries in the UK and US have made lots of silly mistakes through bad planning. One temple wrote a guarantee to the local residents that their property could never be used for anything but a monastery. Later they realised this means you cannot mortgage the property, nor sell it. Another temple built meditation huts in the woods, only to be forced to tear them down again for not meeting local planning rules. “Living in the present moment” does not mean you can’t plan or control in any way.

Some years ago for instance, some thieves figured out that after the bell goes in the monastery, all the monks go to the main hall, leaving the thieves free to rob the rest of the property. Thai monks would have no question on something like this – you lock things up. But the Westerners sat debating for a long time over whether using locks was ‘attachement’ or not, and if it was appropriate for a monastery to use a safe. (Finally they figured the safe was justified to protect their passports!)

Dhamma applies internally. There should be little need to change much in your regular life, other than a basic level of morality. The work is done internally, watching with mindfulness the emotions, thoughts and motivations. This will have consequences on how you live, but such comes about naturally, and not from the application of some super-ego ideals that you try to live up to.

Here is a relevant story …..

A group of nuns have set up a massage service as a new way of making ends meet after their chicken breeding business fell flat.

The sisters at Marienkron Abbey in Monchhof, Austria, are reportedly making a fortune after converting their convent into a health spa.

The five star spa offers therapies with high pressure jets of mineral water, massage, and fitness classes with an expert chi kung Chinese breathing exercises.

Guests are pummeled with high pressure hoses of chilled mineral waters to stimulate the skin.

The Sisters of the Cistercian Order say the ice cold water treatments are good for the body and the soul and charge £100 a night for a break in the spa.

2 replies on “Holy Water”

  1. “But the Westerners sat debating for a long time over whether using locks was ‘attachement’ or not, and if it was appropriate for a monastery to use a safe.”

    You’ve got to be kidding right? A group of western monks in a Thai temple really had this discussion? How long had they lived in Thailand? What do you think it was that made them leave their brains aside when they put on robes?

    I mean, really, this would be an interesting discussion about how some people might enter a new religion (and not just as laypeople, but as monks – in a position of authority and respect) with totally ridiculous expectations and ideas.

    I wonder how they became monks if they knew so little about Thai society and if they were so blinded by the fantasies in their heads that they could have such a discussion. Was this a kind of group dynamic in which each was trying to be more ‘spiritual’ than the next do you suppose? Was there no senior person to guide and train them?

    The strangest thing is that I’ve never actually met anyone like this. In the last year I’ve been to four ordination ceremonies in Thailand of westerners putting on Thai robes, and not one of those people would for a minute have a qualm about locking a door or would have wasted much time discusing it – especially if thefts were already happening!

  2. Great article… yes, some people forget it takes money to run even a temple. I have been to only one temple in Thailand that didn’t offer something for the people to buy. And it wasn’t really a temple, it was more of a hermitage.. Ajahn Sumano’s place in Pak Chong.

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