Through my twenties I knew I would end up being a contemplative. How I knew that I’ve not a clue, I just knew. And here I am many years later a member of a religious order, the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. Who would have thought that possible considering I was not at all keen on ‘organised religion’, back then. As the years went by I waited for the right time to come when I’d know where to go to BE a contemplative. I’d imagined I’d need to go to India. And more importantly I was waiting for a clearer idea of what being a contemplative involved. As happens in life the right time did come, after many twists and turns. My understanding of what a contemplative life is/means has evolved although, to be honest, I rarely think about it.
A chance meeting and a certain set of circumstances came together to lead me towards this tiny corner of Buddhism and this tiny organization. As the years have passed since I first came to Throssel in the late 1970’s I’ve found myself grateful. That’s for having found Zen, for being able to practice as a monastic and for the huge impact that has made on my life. But the question this evening is, What is being a contemplative?. An interesting thought. What marks out the life of a contemplative?
At the moment I am spending some weeks in the monastery in Northumberland, Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey. Tonight I joined a small group of younger monks for an informal tea. They were kind. It’s so nice to have you here Rev. Mugo. Blush.
You don’t say much however you always seem to be listening! Double blush! (I checked later and nobody remembers say that!) Well if that is what being a contemplative is, I’m happy with that.
A last thought: what comes in through the ears and the other senses comes in when the doors and windows are open. You don’t need to go out hunting. That’s the best of it.
And you don’t need to be a monastic or a member of an organized religion to listen either.