More on the Little Way

5 August 2008

I am told by friends that I am holy, that I am an inspiration. That I am wise or that I have such impressive or meaningful insights.

The sense I get when I am told these things or things like them is that, somehow, I have a connection or insight that is inaccessible or at least relatively inaccessible to the speaker.

The more I think about it, the more important I realize the Little Way (caution: that website is ultra-traditionalist, sedevacantist; wander at your own risk!) is. St. Therese of Lisieux is an important saint for our time. Her youth and infirmity prevented her from rigorous and impressive penances. As a consequence, she began to look at all her life, all the little things from everyday life, as opportunities for connection to God.

Likewise, in our contemporary world, a life of holiness can seem unrealistic in the extreme. Hence, the importance of the Little Way.

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3 Responses to “More on the Little Way”

  1. Chris H. Says:

    The essence of the idea of the Little Way is extremely important in the context of the school of Zen (Soto) that I’m studying as well. I’m grandly paraphrasing here, but the ideas are intact—

    When a famous Zen master was asked by his student what he would do if he found out God existed, the master said, “Chop wood, carry water.” When asked what he would do if he found out God didn’t exist the master said, “Chop wood, carry water.” When asked what he would do if he found out God both existed and didn’t exist the master said, you guessed it, “Chop wood, carry water.” When asked what he would do if he found out God neither existed or didn’t exist the master said, and here’s the punch line, “Chop wood, carry water.” The point being that one’s strong sense of the divine or one’s strong sense of holiness or not so strong sense of holiness or the divine doesn’t change the fact that you continue to carry out life in reality as fully as possible.

    You might say, but he’s just doing chores! Where’s the sense of right and wrong, where’s the sense of morality! Its just materialistic. But wait. In the Soto Zen tradition in particular, the importance of the everyday, the reality of just doing chores, is what is tantamount. It can be equated with the idea of zazen, which is Zen meditation, which according to the founder of the school, Dogen, is just as important as the Buddhist precepts which lead only to and are equal to the moral life.

    So, I guess the important thing is to steer people away from the thinking that only deep thoughts and holiness are the place where one should strive to be. In fact, the Little Way of St. Therese’s is maybe even more valid and has less roadblocks towards the realization of the holy or whatnot. Thomas Merton is a key example of this. The guy, super deep thinker, writer, poet, and yet someone who always battled with the practice of simplicity.

    Well. That’s my two cents and way of saying “Bravo for the little way!”

  2. Tripp Says:

    I guess I have a question and not comment per se…

    So, does it bother you that people think these things about you? You have spent a goodly amount of time on the topic of late.


  3. Bother is too strong a word, Tripp. More like baffles. I know my own trials and difficulties, which those people often don’t see or know.

    What does bother me is the sense some might seem to have of, “Oh, Jorge, you’re just capable of some things that I’m not.”

    The idea that whatever I do is somehow special, better, different than what they are capable of. And that’s just not true. I don’t do things that are that unusual, especially when you consider things like The Little Way.

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