"The Religious Life"
(A Zen Story from The Tassajara Recipe Book )

1-3-2000 SOW Seeds Service of the Church Within - Story #117

Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds]

This week's SOW Seeds Story #117 , contributed by: Pastor Daniel

Story of the Week
"The Religious Life"
(A Zen Story from The Tassajara Recipe Book )

        Once there were two friends who became monks, joining a monastery together. Both were devoted to their religious practice, yet both still enjoyed smoking now and again. The monastic routine was rigorous, but they found idle moments during the day to relax with a cigarette.

        When the two first entered the monastery, they had thought that they would soon give up smoking, but instead they discovered it a rare pleasure to light up, puff on their cigarettes, watch the smoke curl and drift, and chat about the affairs of the day. And so, even after a couple years of monastic practice, they found their love for smoking had waxed rather than waned.

        One day, while they sat smoking, they talked it over, saying to each other that they really ought to find some way to integrate their religious life with their smoking. "We've been here quite a while, and since we do not want to give up smoking, we must find some way to make it part of our religious life," they thought.

        So, shortly after this, one of them went to speak with the Abbot, saying, "I've been here a couple years, and this practice has been very beneficial for me, and I am devoted to prayer. But there is one thing which I have not been able to give up. I still enjoy smoking, and I want all my activities to be part of my religious life, so I was wondering if it would be all right for me to smoke during prayer.
        The Abbot was aghast. "Absolutely not," he responded. "Prayer is just for praying. You must never bring in any other activities." Crestfallen, the monk returned to his friend and reported that the Abbot was completely unsympathetic, that he did not seem to have any comprehension of what they were trying to do, and that it would be useless to speak with him further on the subject. Undaunted, the second monk said he would give it a try.

        So the second monk soon went to see the Abbot and said, as the first monk had said, that he really was grateful to be able to participate in the religious life of the monastery, but the fact was, that in spite of himself, he still enjoyed smoking. "And I was wondering," he asked, "if it would be all right if I was to pray while I smoked."

        "By all means," replied the Abbot, "Whatever you are doing, you should also be praying."

The Prayer
Dear God,        
        When I Unconsciously forget to share the moment with You, even the Greatest Fortune does not bring lasting Satisfaction. When I Consciously remember to share the moment with You, I can achieve Contentment and find the Fortune in Each Experience.

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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