How Is a Wayist Monk Defined?
A monk is one who focus their lifestyle on spiritual transformation for the purpose of being useful to others in their quest for spiritual well-being.
It is clear from the definition that gender and marital status does not play a role in the definition of a monk.
It is also notable that anyone can be a monk, even a householder, parent, or someone in business. It is a matter of priorities and life focus.
Key concepts in this definition are discussed below:
“focus their lifestyle”
The focus, therefore, the primary aim and purpose of one’s actions and thoughts, is that of the monkhood. The lifestyle of the monk is focused on something other than to what normative society subscribes. To enter the monkhood necessarily means that one has different priorities and a different value system than that of normative society. In this we see the early Buddhist rule of “rejecting society”. It is not that the monk stands in judgment of society, but does not want to live according to those values and ethics—but follows another set of ethics and focus.
Some monks live in supporting spiritual communities where they share the workload of providing services to others, and they share in the ability of the community to care for their material and immaterial needs.
Some monks come to this lifestyle commitment already engaged in social contracts like marriage or parenthood. This is considered a Karmic consequence and the contracts must be honoured within the means of the monk and the value system of the monkhood. Some in this lifestyle will maintain careers or salaried jobs for as long as it takes to honour their Karmic contracts.
Some monks have the inclination and skill to conduct clinics and services for the benefit of others, and the donations received from that are used to fund the continuation of serving others.
In keeping with upaya, the teaching of spiritual skills can take many forms. The Bodhisattva lifestyle also calls for service to sentient beings in many different forms. Some monks conduct workshops in living simpler lifestyles, some conduct social wellness groups, some healing clinics and others teach.
The focus of the monk’s efforts is spiritual transformation. Monks work and study to bring about their own spiritual transformation. It is said “A monk is one who focus their lifestyle on spiritual transformation” because the monk has adapted the lifestyle to serve the purpose of transformative studies and practices.
“for the purpose of”
We see that a CEO of a large corporation be successful as a monk, and so we notice that someone living in a commune dedicated to spiritual purposes can be successful. It is not so much a question of ‘what is the lifestyle?’ but rather ‘what is the purpose and focus of the lifestyle?’
The founding father of Christianity, Paul of Tarsus, learned from Christ the principle that he called “tentmaker’s ministry”. Paul repaired and manufactured tents for people when he needed money for missionary trips to outlying areas. All the money that Paul made was used for the same purpose.
The ultimate goal of Wayist worldview is the perfect fulfillment of the two kinds of benefit of self-improvement and the improvement of the condition of others.
“useful to others”
What is the purpose of monkhood? The purpose of “being useful to others…” The teachings of upaya and chrestotes explain what this means, to be at once giving: appropriate help and having appropriate compassion. To give the right help at the right time and direct one’s compassion appropriately is a deep spiritual skill that takes years to master. We can never walk for people or make them walk the Path. We cannot save them from their Karma, we cannot give them Dharma more than what they have or are ready for — but we can give teaching, energy healing, spiritual lifestyle guidance and skills, and be examples of spiritual transformation. This is our usefulness in the world, to be Light on the Path.
“their spiritual wellbeing”
We serve others with appropriate help in “their quest for spiritual wellbeing”. To help others with their spirituality, is the task of the monk and that help can come in many forms, all depending on the skills the individual monk has to offer. Some are better than others in teaching, some at demonstrating, some at guiding, some at illustrating, some at making videos, others at writing, some at understanding, some at healing, some at spiritual skills of the higher self, and so the list goes on. The monk has a focus to help other along the Way, all within the means and gifts of skills the monks have in their hearts and minds.
The Rules for Monks
The rules for monks are no different to the rules for all devotees on the Path. It may be said that in general we perceive the monk’s vow is to work all time at perfecting the skills and holding to the prohibitions and admonishments for the purpose of developing their own skills to help others—with more resolve and dedication than others.
There are twenty precepts in four sets. We call it the Bodhisattva Precepts. A precept is a general rule intended to regulate thought, which will in time naturally regulate behaviour.
- The Four Immeasurable Skills (4)
- The Precepts of Ahimsa (3)
- The Sanctuaries (3)
- The Ten Precepts (10)
Students will note that the precepts seem to be restatements of the same foundationals; as if being expositions of the basic values of Wayism which are Humility, Simplicity and Compassion. We honour the list of twenty because it is ancient, because millions before us, and probably ourselves in previous lives, honoured it and held it up as lifestyle rules. This is a Path well-trodden over thousands of years. This is the Butterfly Path trod by the heroes of equanimity and spiritual perfection that achieved the ultimate success before us.
The FOUR Immeasurable Skills
- Loving-kindness or benevolence (maitrī/metta)
- Compassion (karuna)
- Empathetic joy (mudita)
- Equanimity (upekṣā/upekkha)
The Precepts of Ahimsa
- Cause no harm through your actions, inactions, and ignorance.
- Intend to reduce harm.
- Advance your skills (upaya) and wisdom to know when harm can be done by your actions and inactions, and avoid doing so. In that, you learn how to be useful in the quest of the spiritual development of others, and be so.
The three categories of “pure precepts” as they are called in Buddhism are for the Wayist the precepts for the maintenance of self-culture. These are the precepts related to the cultivation of goodness, and the precepts for the improvement of the circumstances of sentient beings. In other words, these three categories of precepts are a summary of the Wayist Buddhist discipline into the areas of diminishing evil, nurturing goodness, and bringing benefit to others.
Purify and fully illuminate all wholesome roots. Kindness, compassion, joy, detachment (from one’s own possessions), and wisdom are the roots of all virtue.
Awareness of kindness and repayment of kindness are the primary practices of the bodhisattva.
- Perpetual learning
- Perpetual introspection
- Perpetual transformation
- Perpetual service
The Perpetuals stress that we do not stop being perfected at enlightenment, the process will continue for thousands perhaps millions of earth years to come. We learn the habits of the Perpetuals and by the time our final enlightenment in the human body comes, we simply slot in to continue in the spiritual realm.
- I take refuge in my Buddha Amitabha
- I take refuge in my Community
- I take refuge in my Dharma
A refuge is a state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or difficulty. We need refuge in times of difficulty. We need access to a state of being where there is guidance, sustenance, and safety. A place where we can regroup and recuperate before going out there to take on the task of life again. We also need refuge to a place where soul food and spirit food is always available to us. on a regular basis for maintenance and sustenance.
We find our main refuge in the Dhyana Buddha Amitabha (dhyana, meaning it can only be imagined and approached in our meditations). Buddha Amitabha stands for all of the Lotus Family of spiritual beings (that include Gautama Buddha, teacher Jesus and the gods and high gurus of other traditions) who are set below that highest level of human awareness and consciousness. That divine domain encompasses all spiritual beings of our “tribe”. It is collectively called heaven and includes the metaphysical laws of Karma and Dharma and the Way of spiritual perfection.
We take refuge in the larger Community of holy beings and likeminded people, rather than in lower-self need gratification—because those needs are insatiable. Our awareness of belonging in the Family or ‘tribe’ as some say, is paramount because that is how we maintain our connection. Our service to one another is important because that is how we learn, grow and advance.
We take refuge in our personal Dharma—the sense of duty and knowing we have acquired from our wisdom developed over many lifetimes. Our dharma is what we know and feel to be true and right—when the brain mind is not clouding our awareness. Our dharma is never settled, it is dynamic and is added to not only from our experiences of life but also from guidance from above. Intuition… is how they call it in human language. We learn to look to this trusted source for solace and security when we need guidance.
The Ten Precepts
The ten precepts of Wayist life was adapted and evolved over time from ancient sources of around 400BCE. These were the same sources that gave rise to the many vinaya (codes of conduct for monks) and different interpretations in use Buddhist sects.
The ten precepts were interpreted by many famous teachers and abbots into tomes of moral and ethical rules. Wayists do not go the route of moral codes but we do make use the precepts to delve deep into our psyche to uncover and unmask biases and hypocrisies that may withhold us from development. One can write a book or two, analyzing the precepts because we need to reflect on them at many levels.
- Prohibition of killing for pleasure. Admonishment to be a mindful predator, and to honour life in all things seen and unseen.
- Prohibition of appropriating that which does not belong to you. Admonishment to not indulge lower-self attachments.
- Prohibition of the pursuit of lust that serves insatiable lower-self needs. Admonishment to pursue experiences of all kinds without attachment.
- Prohibition of intentional dishonesty. Admonishment to cultivate upaya.
- Prohibition of clouding the mind. Admonishment to own your own mind.
- Prohibition of gossiping of the faults of others. Admonishment to strive to see the root of imperfections of others as we see it in ourselves.
- Prohibition of regarding oneself higher than another. Admonishment to embrace humbleness.
- Prohibition of withholding goodness from others. Admonishment to share teaching and light to all.
- Prohibition of allowing disharmony when it can be avoided. Admonishment to create harmony where possible.
- Prohibition of denigrating the Dharmas. Admonishment to experience the intimacy of things.
Dress Code and Other Rules for Monks
Wayists monks follow the ancient tradition of wearing white when officiating. Dress codes vary according to local customs across the world. The only real common denominator is the colour white.
Wayist emphasize practicality, and would not transport a clothing style across geographic and cultural regions when it serves only to mark one as being different from others. It makes good sense to adapt one’s clothing style also according to the geographic area–for example wearing closed shoes and socks in severe cold and open sandals or flip flops in tropical heat and wet areas…wearing black bottoms in areas where dirt and dust on bicycles and in homes easily makes white look disrespectful. However, it is never the clothing or lack of clothing that makes a monk but the heart and conduct–a naked monk is as much a monk as one in a business suit.
Below are some photos not only of Wayist monks but also Jain, Hindu and Buddhist monks.
Depending on culture and the individual community, some monks shave their heads while others do not. The only tendency that is important is that hair dress is not important to “distinguish” a monk and when it becomes important or a matter of concern for lifestyle expense, it is a warning sign.
The human being is an omnivorous predator–this is the bain of our lives of Earth. We learn to go about this in gratitude for all those beings who would give their lives to sustain us. We have a duty toward ourselves to respect the Way and our Path, and must therefore take care of our bodies to make the journey possible and fruitful. Therefore, we must eat what is available in our geographic area. We do not have the ability or right to decide which lives matter more–all life matters–all living things are aware. Respect, gratitude and awareness of the cycle of life key.
As an example of an extreme argument, a monk would rather raise a chicken and kill at toward the end of a good life to eat, than support an industry that has no respect for the plants, fish, and animals that it harvests or cultivates for feeding humans. There is no excuse for ignorance and arrogance in this.
Feeding ourselves and maintaining our bodies is a constant reminder of the need for humility, simplicity and compassion.