Things I learned at the Monastic Academy

· 1 min read

I spent three months at The Monastic Academy for the Preservation of Life on Earth (MAPLE). Here's what I discovered for myself.

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to tell you what to do. Some of these may seem obvious or cliché. None are novel. Each can be expanded on. All are important to me.

Everything you do matters. Physical actions, words you say, thoughts you think - they all have consequences. This isn't a spiritual metaphor. Whether you like it or not, you are part of the universal cause-and-effect game.

Take responsibility for your relationship with your parents. Every cell in your body can be traced back to your parents. They are the cause of your existence; you are the effect. Striving to understand and accept them is part of learning to accept oneself.

Live for something bigger than your life. You are not the center of the universe. One way of approaching it is to discover your vow or your highest aspiration. In other words, seek God.

Let the unexpected happen. Love, friendship, wisdom. Everything that truly matters cannot be acquired; it can only be received. With humility, stop assuming that you know what you really need or how to get it. Get out of your own way. Let the universe unfold.

Most conversations don't need to happen. We gossip, vent, argue. We tell other people what to do unprompted. Before saying anything, check if it aligns with your highest aspiration.

Don't trust your thoughts. I spent days ruminating over something that had no connection to reality, something that only existed in my mind. I spent weeks in silence only to discover that my thoughts have three main themes: "I'm better than you," "You are wrong, and I'm right, "I want pleasure."

Contemplate death often. We have no control over the circumstances of our deaths. We all will die, and this is a fact. Yet we live and act as if it won't ever happen to us. Contemplating one's death is an ancient Buddhist meditation practice. It can activate the search for something bigger than life and help find meaning.