This is a little story and lesson written by Thomas Merton that features Chogyam Trungpa. For those of you unfamiliar with Chogyam Trungpa he was Pema Chodron’s teacher whose work I have often featured on Beyond Meds.
When [Chogyam Trungpa] was faced with the decision of leaving his country [to save his life], he did not quite know what to do. He was absent from his monastery on a visitation to some other monastery, and he was caught out in the mountains somewhere and was living in a peasant’s house, wondering what to do next. He sent a message to a nearby abbot friend of his, saying: “What do we do?” The abbot sent back a strange message, which I think is very significant: “From now on, Brother, everybody stands on his own feet.”
To my mind, this is an extremely important monastic statement. If you forget everything else that has been said, I would suggest you remember this for the future: “From now on, everybody stands on his own feet.”
This, I think, is what Buddhism is about, what Christianity is about, what monasticism is about — if you understand it in terms of grace. It is not a Pelagian statement, by any means, but a statement to the effect that we can no longer rely on being supported by structures that may be destroyed at any moment by a political power or a political force. You cannot rely on structures. The time for relying on structures has disappeared. They are good and they can help us, and we should do the best we can with them. But they may be taken away, and if everything is taken away, what do we do next? — Thomas Merton from The Asian Journal
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