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Posts Tagged ‘Dostoyevsky’

Sometimes I get to thinking about how much more difficult it is to live a mindful life while dealing with mind-numbing frustration and chaos. I’ve never read The Brothers Karamazov, but I remember being told about the exchange where the brother in the monastery was told how good and moral he was. He replied to the other brother that it’s easy to be good when in a monastery; it’s a real task to face down the troubles and temptations of the world outside. Paraphrased, obviously, but that’s how I remember hearing it.

I think of this whenever I hear of the old honored tradition of a man leaving his family life at a certain point to study Buddhism, or otherwise remove himself from everyday life to seek wisdom. (Rarely, there are stories of women doing this, but it was at times expected of men at a certain age.) I have often envied that notion — not leaving my family, but leaving off having to keep up with the everyday hassles we face.

But as I sit here dwelling in the idea, I can’t imagine that living a life of nothing more than chores and meditation would help me nearly so much as learning how to live life alongside so many others just trying to make sense of it all. It’s tough, and it’s frustrating, and it’s wearying. But the process of learning to allow it to be smoother, to become more accepting, and to find the quiet strength within… I can’t imagine that would come faster if it wasn’t so deeply needed.

While spending time recharging in quiet and calm and supportive retreat is kind of required, I don’t think it’s as helpful for that to be the only life we live. It removes us from the very purpose of being human: living with and loving one another.

I’ll let a quote from The Brothers Karamazov express what I’m feeling on what we can best learn as a lifelong spiritual practice:

Love all God’s creation, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If thou love each thing thou wilt perceive the mystery of God in all; and when once thou perceive this, thou wilt thenceforward grow every day to a fuller understanding of it: until thou come at last to love the whole world with a love that will then be all-embracing and universal.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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