Two Christian Monks

*Recently I heard this story on something, a podcast, or a YouTube video, I’ve no idea where in all honesty so as best as I could remember it I’ve recreated it. It might even be true. 

Two Christian Monks

There was once a Christian monk on a walk with a very good friend of his one day. A few details about them, the first monk was a mystic and a writer while the second was a poet and a teacher. The poet turned to his mystic friend and asked ‘What is it you really want to be?’

The first one took a moment to think and then paused his steps and said that he wanted to be a good monk who is close to God and a great writer who can spread His message.

The second monk looked at his friend and said ‘No, what you really should have said was that you wanted to be a great saint.’Two Christian Monks
The first monk pushed back on his friend and asked ‘Well, isn’t that a bit prideful and that is one of the Deadly Sins?’

Then they began to walk again in the garden and after a pause that was filled with birdsong and the wind sweeping though the trees and shrubs, the poets stopped again and asked, ‘What is it that God wants you to be?’
The mystic replied, ‘I would have to suppose that would be, to be a great saint’.

‘Then’ said his friend ‘how dare you think that if that is what God wants you to be, he has not already given you every grace necessary to be just that.’

Free Will, or lack thereof

I heard this story recently and got me really thinking about the desires and needs that we think we have. The first monk, probably thinking he was saying the appropriate thing gets a bit of a lashing off his mate because his belief is that God has given you everything to be the best that you can be, and you only want to be a good writer and a good monk, when you can be so, so, so much more. 

It led into thoughts I’ve been having on will and free will of late and how I’ve stopped believing in it. I don’t think we, as in the ego parts of us, because, y’know when we say ‘I’ or ‘we’ that’s who we’re talking about, have very much control over what we do at all. I reckon now that it’s very much the subconscious and unconscious that takes turns at the wheel and the ego convinces itself it’s the one doing the driving.

Maybe, just maybe, the odd time, but rarely, the ego get’s a turn to drive but it’s like when you’re eight and your auld lad or your cool uncle who gives you a sneaky drink of his pint when nobody’s looking, lets you drive the car in the yard for a few minutes when your Ma is out doing Ma-things. Maybe. I’m not convinced, I’m more convinced that we think there’s choice and that we tell ourselves we’ve made a choice.

Much like the mystical monk above, we convince ourselves of what we want. We buy into our personal and collective experiences and they become an identity for us but really they’re illusory, and then really you have to ask, when it comes to personal goals, are we settling? Can’t we go higher? Can’t we go all the way?  

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