A conversation with an Orthodox Christian monk sharing his perspective on God, existence, and the meaning of life. This is the third digital letter in a series dedicated to the exploration of existential questions.
In my short life, I’ve recognized personal growth as having taken place when nagging questions from my past no longer possess the same weighty relevance in my present. One of these recognitions occurred in 2014 during a conversation with Father Silouan about the worthiness of a life dedicated to monasticism.
My original question could have been harshly simplified as: “What good is a monk?” I mean, consider how they leave the world, civilization, and separate themselves from humankind in order to dedicate themselves to prayer and fasting and isolation. Isn’t this selfish? Isn’t this a life wasted?
Although it may be considered holy, what’s the point?
It was with all of these questions (read: judgments) that I entered the monastery to skeptically participate in the monastic life for three months.
When I asked Fr. Silouan a more respectful form of this question, this answer followed:
Listen to Fr. Silouan explain how the solitary life of a monk can lead to solidarity with all humankind:
Counterintuitive to minds formed in the individualistic West is the idea of total interconnectedness with all living things. Yet, St. Silouan, Fr. Silouan’s patron, was known to contradict this inherited assumption by asserting that the highest of the spiritual life is to see all humankind as one person.
Fr. Silouan's thoughts on the vocation of the monk compels me to live in a way that dismisses the illusion that fools us into thinking we do not belong to each other.
Peace and good,
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