Sincere Questions

Hello, my name is Sam, and my confirmation name is Augustine. I converted to Catholicism in 2002, but I also have some Orthodox views.

I have been thinking seriously about the possibility of joining a monastery. I am not certain which order I would fit best in. Vows of celibacy or silence or of poverty do not bother me much at all. I was celibate by choice for 7 years, and I do not regret that. I am also hearing impaired, so silence is not something I would be concerned about either. I am interested in reading experiences from people who have actually joined monasteries. The idea of a simple and contemplative life appeals to me, as does daily prayers and the daily Eucharist. I do not really feel like I fit in very well in the mainstream world, and the more I read monastic literature, the more the idea of living in a community devoted wholly to God appeals to me.

I would welcome any advice or input that anyone has to offer.


(no subject)

I must remember to schedule another medical research pass on those of John Cassian's Eight Deadly Sins that hamstring me (unchastity and Listlessness/accidie) shortly. My work scheduling system resets on the first of the month, so probably April 1st.

Just because it's possible to be forced up against "the wall", doesn't mean I should concede it prematurely. (The consonantal Hebrew behind the following [NAS Ecclesiastes 7:18] has a graphic "dualist" contrast in context (7:16ff):
It is good that you grasp one thing, and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them.
Most of my other translations do not even hint at the parallelism. The sense is that "one thing" is "good" (under the sun) while "the other" is evil (under the sun), but neither is excessively so.)

Rethinking physical routine

I'm thinking through what to use as a "neurolinguistic programming anchor" for doing the following in sequence:
  • Yoga: Fish
  • Yoga: Inclined plane series (basic, one leg off ground, one arm off ground: five iterations)
  • Yoga: Pigeon
  • Yoga: Diamond
  • Generic: seated splits

Some more consistency is in order. I would prefer to do this once per "day", whether I got up at 5AM or 3PM. None of the fixed time slots I've tried in the past two months have held up — yanking my circadian around to match my work schedule has prevented consistent focus at predictable clock times.

I'm also overdue for redoing my breathing into habitually correct form. That has been drifting the past several months, and went over the edge with the latest weather weirdness in my area. My prior default has been to "mix-and-match" Taoist physical technique with Iron Shirt's spinal alignment and Hatha Yoga, but further research appears to be in order.

"Before breakfast" is taken. I wanted to make sure that my chosen Western exercise set for that was sticking before experimenting further.
My work schedule has been getting in the way of my reading list. I've had a couple of times when consciously adapting Theravadan Buddhism's insight meditation has been critical in "pushing physical limits", but I'm having a much harder time converting that into a continual habit, than I did with Zen Buddhism's "monkey mind" exercise.
  • zaimoni

(no subject)

I finally got "perfect circumstances" to study (via insight meditation) how stacking Iron Shirt Chi Kung's neck alignment, with both half-lotus and full-lotus positions, interacts with my work.
  • Yes, full lotus works much better than half-lotus at conserving clear-headedness. Inconvenient, since I can only hold full lotus for about forty minutes at once per handedness, but half-lotus for several hours per handedness.
  • Atypically, I do not appear to have attempted to "run myself into the ground". If this keeps up, I should work on making this habitual :)

I will have to schedule a cross-referencing of Gregory of Sinai and John Cassian (Philokalia) with some of the introductory passages in St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul.
  • zaimoni

(no subject) internal scheduling system didn't straighten out until 2AM this morning, when hunger started to cut in.

At this rate, I will have to fast much more harshly than was prescribed by Fr. Chad at our last serious discussions of the fasting schedule. Not just shellfish as only meat, but extreme caloric restriction for the rest of today.

The alternative is not being in enough shape to pray to support thinking.
  • zaimoni

End of month post-mortem: Green tea, etc.

I ran into an end-of-month scheduling crunch, and "pulled out the stops" (biofeedback, prayer, singing of de facto mantras from my dominant tradition, etc.) on the 30th and 31st of August to make time targets for a client. The physical reserves are finally back, so I need to review this more carefully.
  • As happened before, my awareness of incipient caffiene addiction (from the single dose of green tea, brewed for 20 minutes) was gone in about 60-72 hours. This might be a placebo effect. (The metabolic half-life of caffeine in the adult body ranges anywhere from two to sixteen hours; Air Force guidelines for preventing addiction is to wait six half-lives between uses. Theophylline metabolizes to caffeine in adults.)

    The reinforced attention control lasted at least 36 hours (I took the tea in early afternoon, and the benefits lasted through when I went to bed early Sept. 1st.). From my point of view, the stimulant effects are an inconvenient side effect.

    It might not violate I will not be mastered by anything to resort to it more frequently, but longer than the anti-addiction timeframe. This still emotionally feels like rationalization :(

  • [Past month] Doing insight meditation out of context (as a meta-procedure, rather than to reinforce Buddhist beliefs) appears to be experientially identical than arbitrary biofeedback to force "attention on". Insight meditation is much easier in a physical context (e.g., riding a bike).
I should schedule further research on how cerebrospinal fluid synthesis is regulated. (The first research burst was inspired by Iron Shirt Chi Kung). I've been making some progress on short-term pacing by paying attention to the symptoms of marginal overpressure, and resorting to Iron Shirt's postural correctives. [Yes, Kundalini Yoga is inverse (bottom-up rather than top-down).]

Great Divorce/Crash Overview

It's not so bad as that. I haven't got my rights, or I shouldn't be here. You will not get yours either. You'll get something far better.
C.S.Lewis, The Great Divorce
In the early part of this book, this has to be the most disturbing quotation. [Later? The meeting between Sarah and her husband.]
Earlier today, I went ahead and downloaded 18 PDFs from on how to execute various meditation procedures. I'll be reviewing them for adaptation and/or analogization to my practice. And to see how well I understood what I saw of Zen a few years back...this is a much more detailed overview.

(Pure Land Buddha recitation is only the Jesus Prayer.)

Multiple ontologies, comparable description?

Thinking back to St. Teresa of Avila and her "garden" metaphor for prayer and grace
  1. Draw the water from a well [intellectual prayer; phrased in natural language]
  2. Use aqueducts driven by a water wheel [prayer of quiet]
  3. The water is from a river [sleep of the faculties]
  4. It rains [union; no power left in the body]
(Cf. The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila.)

We have a clear progression — the more Father in Heaven is involved, the less we are able to express the experience in natural language to others.

Let's turn it around. Arthur Deikman has done some research into the physical implementation of both contemplative prayer, and more traditional Eastern mysticisms. [The linked survey is of Yoga and unidentified Buddhism, but other articles on the site examine Sufism as well.]

How practical is it for divergent ontologies (implementations) to result in verbally similar directions? [I'm thinking explicit construction here — just because I have an untrained emotional reaction, doesn't mean it's accurate.]

(no subject)

I could have given myself quite a bit of angst over abusing green tea (defined as drinking more than one cup every 72 hours) earlier this week...except I ran out. [To be dealt with in the weekly shopping trip.]

The practical concerns are the same as ever: it's one of those "conscience says all choices are sin" paradoxes. In this case, I will not be mastered by anything from I Corinthians.

After all: is it really a difference in violation, to choose to risk a tolerance to caffeine and theophylline, rather than the certainity that exhausting cerebral glycogen is going to stop attention to task dead in its tracks?