If I may, I should like to present Panikkar's discussion via quick, under-
standable points. Quoting from pages 10 through 16 in his book:
• By monk...I understand that person who aspires to reach the ultimate
goal of life with all his being by renouncing all that is not necessary to it.
• The monk is the expression of an archetype which is a constitutive
dimension of human life. This archetype is a unique quality of each
person, which at once needs and shuns institutionalization.
• One does not become a monk in order to do something or even
to acquire anything, but in order to be...
• Human perfection: The perfection of the human individual is not the
fullness of human nature; it is not nature but personhood. Yet there
are people who actualize their dormant potentialities and others who
don't, people who reach a high degree of humanness--and others
• I shall call the *humanum* this core of...humanness that can be
realized in as many fashions as there are human beings. Religion
is a path to the *humanum*. [Also] the poet, the intellectual, the
craftsman, the man of action...all express different facets of it.
• The archetype of...the monk is an expression [that] corresponds to
one dimension of this *humanum*. Monkhood is a dimension that
has to be integrated with other dimensions of human life in order to
fulfill the *humanum.*
• The monk within the institutionalized framework often suffers from
the fact that his vital impulses toward full humanness are curtailed
merely because they are absorbed in the total institution.
• One of the crises of present-day monasticism is precisely this kind
of *quid pro quo,* that something which belongs to human nature
as one of its constitutive dimensions loses a good part of its force
and its universality once it becomes a particular form of organized
• The monastic vocation is essentially personal...[involving] the
search for the center...[which]...is immanent to the human being...
but at the same time...it is transcendent.
• Monasticism is not a specifically Christian, Jaina, Buddhist, or
a sectarian phenomenon; rather it is a basically human and
primordially a religious one..
So--reading over these initial points, I began to realize that my
sense of being a monastic might not be so strange after all.
Working through over the years, I couldn't help noticing something
about myself. I tend to be an integrator. I suppose this began
when I worked in government. Data would come from everywhere,
from all different sources, from a variety of disciplines--and it was
my task to keep up with all this, putting all this different data together
to reach an appropriate conclusion. Indeed my earlier university
background involved three academic realms that I seamed together
into one. And at Georgetown I played in different academic fields,
threading them together to better understand the Great Story.
Integration came naturally for me.
Consequently, when I read the following--I thought "a hah." To
quote: "While traditional monasticism tends toward simplicity
through *simplification*...with the accompanying danger of
reductionism, contemporary monasticism seeks simplicity through
*integration,* with the consequent danger of an eclectic
juxtaposition." [Panikkar, p. 33.]
There's little doubt that I have an eclectic approach to life; yet, I
have always felt fairly focused on my goals. As an integrator, I
worked to attain or support a particular result. So I cannot plead
guilty to being a dilettante, just fiddling around without any sense
of commitment. Rather just the opposite, in that I wished to "seek
God" via many avenues. We need all the tools at hand just to
even approach the contours of this Mystery.
So--in the end, with the help of Raimundo Panikkar, I had found
a way for me, albeit non-traditional and far more universal. But I
had at last found Peace.