Posted by Joe Rawls

A few days ago my wife Nancy loaned me A Rare and Precious Thing: the possibilities and pitfalls of working with a spiritual teacher (Bell Tower, New York 2006) by John Kain. He is a Buddhist practitioner, poet, and associate publisher of Tricycle magazine. The book describes how one works with spiritual teachers/masters/elders/guides/directors in a wide variety of traditions. Pages 36 and 37 relate a visit to a Trappist monastery near Winnipeg by Howard Thurman, professor of theology at Boston University, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, one of the founders of Jewish Renewal. Instead of going to the abbot, whom they considered "just a manager", they sought out the novice master.

"...and Howard asks him, 'What's the biggest complaint you have among novices?' The master says, 'Well, they have to be up at two-thirty in the morning to attend Matins and Lauds. They aren't too happy about it. They tell me that it's so much better when they're out in the fields and they feel ecstasy and love for God and hallelujah and so on. So I say to them, "I forbid you to come to any services now except for the masses, which are an obligation". 'What happened then?' Howard asked. And the master replied, 'Well, after a while they came back to me and said, "We didn't come here to be farm hands." 'What happened to your ecstasies?' the master asked. 'They dried up', said the novices. So the master told them, 'Of course, now you realize, what you are doing at two-thirty in the morning is what gives you the ecstasy in the fields'."

This entry was posted on Friday, November 27, 2009 at Friday, November 27, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Post a Comment