in reply to Religion in the Monastery.

Looking forward to some interesting replies
...and I got them - lots :) First off - I *really* should have entitled the Discussion "Spirituality in the Monastery" rather than "religion" - I realised that almost as soon as I pressed the button. (What I didn't realise, it being my first, was that Discussions can't be edited...ho hum). I think, like possibly some of the reply posters, that I was skewed by the dominance of Christianity into a 'religious' framework for the question, rather than broadening it out as I think I originally intended.

The question wasn't about coding. That's silly - of course I don't think ones *faith* influences the minutae of that any more than it influences how one holds a knife-and-fork. (Although I actually quite like ($peter, $paul, $siddharta_gautama) - in the very least, this discussion might prompt me to use more interesting variable names for the fun of it :) ) I was addressing the broader *twin* issues of (a) Why (as others had also observed) did it appear that the Monastery had a high degree of (mainly) Christians, and (b) How much the whole issue of spirituality informs one's attitude towards the more general issues of 'work' - problem-solving strategies, stress levels, Eureka! moments etc.

Great answers have cropped up to both. I like the point about the perl culture encouraging expression ( although I wonder how many replies I'd have got if I'd s/faith/nudity/g; as jaldhar said) and therefore one is more likely to find Monks 'not afraid' to declare their beliefs in all sorts of things, from the Tao to Monty Python. Maybe even the high visibility can be affected simply by a single influential homenode, or as others have pointed out, the highly evangelistic nature of much of modern-day US Christianity simply heightens ones awareness.

As for spirituality affecting the work process, it was interesting to see that Nkuvu and vladb were aware of the effect on their interactions with co-workers - "a large part, but not an obvious one". Teleworking myself, my co-workers are all 'virtual', which occasionally makes for a more abstract discussion on a particular task, as one has the time to consider more during conversation. While not necessarily connected to spirituality, it occasionally gives one the 'contemplative peace' rarely found in busy offices.

Contemplative - that's the one. My partner remarked on this being a common factor in Monasteries, be they Buddhist or Franciscan, and I think that's why the metaphor is successful - the whole "seeking the wisdom of the monks" thing, (and indeed, Meditations) - it lends itself to a more 'considered' way of doing things. Sometimes :)

Personally, I've found that matters other than maya (forgive the Hindu pun jaldhar) influence me more as I get older. Certain 'spiritual' moments in my life (eg children's birth) affected the way I think about *everything*, be it what time I have to get up in the morning, or how I view human interaction and my capacity for empathy - which in turn affected how I think about (say) UI. I was brought up strongly atheist, (to the point where I exercised my right to not participate in religious assembly at school), but again like merlyn, picked and dabbled (and am still doing so) my way through most mystical traditions/ philosophies, as well as the 'scientific' tradition and the physiology / phsychology of religious experience etc. I mentioned 'fugue states' earlier, and I seriously think that many of those who would deny any spirituality (whatever *that* means :) ) in their life have probably shared similar experiences to koan-contemplating Zen monks or fasting Franciscans.

Thanks for a great bunch of answers.


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Re: Religion in the Monastery.
by bilfurd (Hermit) on May 01, 2003 at 03:54 UTC
    All in all an interesting question, benn!

    The answers, however, were brilliant!

    I really dug Merlyn's response because it describes the source of my own beliefs.

    The response that made the biggest impression was jaldhar's. Read the tone of the responses here, then head over to slashdot and read the comments that were posted to the previously mentioned Larry Wall interview. I think jaldhar is on to something...

    Well done! Pats on the back all around. The level of respect shown here reflects well on the community -- especially considering the volatility of the topic!