Responses Notebook

I started reading a book which is a translation of a book written by Evagrius of Pontus (345 ce). It is called \”Talking Back\” by David Brakke.

In the introduction, there is an explanation of a monastic practice of making a notebook of responses:
Foucault: \”an important too that cultivated persons of antiquity used for the shaping of the self\”… \”…the self formative function of this kind of writing: the compilation of the notebook was itself an exercise in identifying and gathering the best of what one had read or heard; the writer then sought to unify in his own identity and rational action the inevitably disparate elements that he had collected from others\”
Athanasius: \”…the monk should write down the deeds and movements of the soul as if they were to be read by other monks, in this way the monks will form themselves\”

The notebook is in form and function a collection of reminders, notes to self that cultivated persons might compile in the effort to improve himself in virtue.

So, I have been a spiritual seeker for nearly 35 years, starting at the young age of 22 when I went to Israel. I note that I am a product of various traditions: Alcoholics Anonymous, Christianity, Benedictine monasticism, A Course in Miracles. I have studied many of the books by Paul Brunton. Talk about notebooks! Brunton was prolific.

I\’ve been interested in somehow integrating these various spiritual outlooks into one theology but it is an overwhelming idea. For example, Benedict had 12 steps of humility. Guigo II had 12 meditations in his Ladder of Monks. AA has 12 steps.

If I was just going after alcoholism, I might suggest the following chapters of a notebook of responses:

  • On the desire to drink
  • On going to meetings
  • On sponsorship
  • On service
  • On inventories
  • On prayer and meditation
  • On the realm of the spirit
As a working person, I doubt I\’d have the patience to compile my responses. Especially since I continue to find additional responses. *sigh* That fact of my daily education is in itself a response.

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