Insight Role In a Cistercian Monastery Part 2

real 2

I left early in the morning and drove for an hour and a half before reaching Rougemont. The sun was slowly rising in the horizon and I was feeling overwhelmingly tired. Studies and due projects had left me quite exhausted and inwardly unbalanced since a few weeks already and I felt this short retreat would be most welcomed. Right before arriving, I encountered a dead fox by the road. The sight contrasted heavily with my state of mind and the stunning landscapes that were surrounding me. Even though it was one of those grey winter days, the sun was piercing a little through the mountains and the clouds.

Not long after, I arrived at the Monastery. The ballads of Johnny Cash were quickly replaced by a heavy silence and the smell of ceremonial incense. I remained alone for a few minutes before my old friend, brother Charbel showed up and greeted me. He showed me to my room and immediately invited me to discuss in a beautiful living room with handmade statues.

The conversation lasted three hours and the subjects were varied. I questioned him about his life and his beliefs which I never had the opportunity to do and I was quite amazed. He recounted how he lived in Koweït for many years and used to be a very arrogant and wealthy online detective, working for software companies. During his years-long contract in the Arab world, he also experienced war (1992) while he was there and had to hide Europeans in his apartment floor. He also told me how he came to be a Cistercian Monk, a story far too rich and incredible to butcher and resume in a few sentences…

I kept being amazed about his acceptance and wisdom and kept thinking to myself that this individual had found Lapis Philosophicus. He only ever used Religion as a fulfilling tool to discover himself and accomplish his Anados.

I remember him saying:

« The Words, the Gender or the Form you assign to God are unimportant. If my heart would have whispered Allah to me, then I would have become a Muslim. If it would have been Shiva, then I would be in India this very moment. Those things are only meant to be a bridge so you can journey toward what is truly important and has always been inside of you. You are not separated from anything and you are worth being loved entirely, even in the consideration of your incompleteness. I have no regrets whatsoever, I am where I want and should be and if tomorrow I felt that there was something that I needed to experience, I would freely walk outside those walls and go experience it. »

The second part of our conversation was primarily focused on certain recollection from my past which had disturbed me more than I would have expected. Charbel is not only wise, he is also one of the greatest and purest empath I have ever met. This is so because he has been listening to people of the outside world for twenty five years. He kindly listened and gave advice or hinted at certain things but it never felt like a therapy or someone lecturing you. In fact, I remembered my first exchange with him and I hoped we would have the opportunity to talk again about certain conscious issues I wanted to work on in the future.

The bell rang, announcing the end of work and Lectio. I went up to my room and got some stuff out of my bag before going back to the first floor for dinner. Arrived in the kitchen, all the Monks greeted me warmly and told me where to eat. I was allowed to eat with them which is very rare and I was not disappointed. The food was excellent and Father Jacques was reading us a book about the first missionaries that arrived in Canada and tried to convert the Native Indians.

After diner, I was allowed to go in the orchard and see the wolf dogs again. We played in the mountain for a little more than an hour. The Alpha male was protecting me from the others, especially the female and showed me his latest catch: a dead fox and raccoon. He would carry them in his mouth and run around with the cadavers but would bark if I got too close to the pack’s catch…

Coming back to my room, I fell asleep for a few hours and upon waking up, went in the living room of the High Chamber. There, a novitiate called Gabriel along with Charbel joined me. Charbel played some guitar and sang ‘Hurt‘ from Johnny Cash. He played for a long time while I was reading my freshly received copy of ‘Corpus Hermeticum’ by David Myatt.

Following this, we had supper and the rest of the evening went smoothly. I talked with the Abbot for a little while and he kindly allowed me to come back whenever I desired. I went to bed early after remaining with the monks for a little while. The next morning, I assisted to the Sunday Mass and saluted Charbel and the others then I was gone. I would have stayed much longer but unfortunately I still had projects that needed to be completed and so I left the monastery in a beautiful yet tormenting snowstorm…

Again, what started as merely another Insight Role revealed itself to be something far more important, far more authentic than what I would have expected. It is nothing like the symbiosis I felt like when I was at the farm but still, the monastery and the monks are living in what seems to be a completely different species of time. One day there feels like an entire week in terms of regeneration and silence. You can’t help but feel fulfilled and serene.

Contrary to my first visit, I was surprised at how inclined I was toward the ceremonies and the mass. I would just be there, in the moment and I would not try to categorize the experience. Instead, I would just close my eyes and smell the incense and listen to the ancient chants performed in perfect synchronicity by these men, old and young that I was getting to know a little more each time.

In the end, what surprised me the most was the unmatched wisdom, openness and care that everyone at the monastery is displaying, especially the older monks. There is no pressure to convert you into something, no pressure to force you into being anything but yourself. They simply welcome you entirely for who you are without any judgments whatsoever and never expect anything in return. In essence, these individuals, through πάθει μάθος have come to understand what Wu-Wei is and practice it on a daily basis and that in itself, is Magic.

It is proof that no matter the Map you follow, be it the Seven-Fold-Way, A Religion or a Code of Honour, wisdom in the end is undivided and beyond any categories or words.

Wu-wei is a Taoist term used in The Way of Pathei-Mathos/The Numinous Way to refer to a personal ‘letting-be’ deriving from a feeling, a knowing, that an essential part of wisdom is cultivation of an interior personal balance and which cultivation requires acceptance that one must work with, or employ, things according to their nature, their φύσις, for to do otherwise is incorrect, and inclines us toward, or is, being excessive – that is, toward the error, the unbalance, that is hubris, an error often manifest in personal arrogance, excessive personal pride, and insolence – that is, a disrespect for the numinous.

In practice, the knowledge, the understanding, the intuition, the insight that is wu-wei is a knowledge, an understanding, that can be acquired from empathy, πάθει μάθος, and by a knowing of and an appreciation of the numinous. This knowledge and understanding is of wholeness, and that life, things/beings, change, flow, exist, in certain natural ways which we human beings cannot change however hard we might try; that such a hardness of human trying, a belief in such hardness, is unwise, un-natural, upsets the natural balance and can cause misfortune/suffering for us and/or for others, now or in the future. Thus success lies in discovering the inner nature (the physis) of things/beings/ourselves and gently, naturally, slowly, working with this inner nature, not striving against it.

-Synopsis of The Numinous Way


[1] Synopsis of The Numinous Way, David Myatt, 27/June/2012

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