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Date Posted: 14:11
Author: Eponymous - 28 Jul 2001
Subject: Re: What Vow of Poverty?
In reply to: ketch - 27 Jul 2001 's message, "What Vow of Poverty?" on 11:25

As to tennis courts, I firmly believe that no vow should be construed such that it denies the adherent a good game of tennis.

But monks who take similar vows should live in similar conditions. Daya Mata apparently lives in conditions far more luxurious than those of her brothers and sisters.

As to the vows at issue: the article you cite notes that SRF nuns take a vow of "simplicity"; historically, the content of this vow generally has been the same as the vow of poverty, although some moderners try to separate the two. But even then, neither vow is fulfilled by mere noncupidity, and both are at odds with leading a life significantly more luxurious than that lead by other renunciates of the order.*

In addition, this whole idea that one can acquire wealth and yet have no desire to acquire wealth is psychologically dubious. (Query whether but for a desire for increased wealth one would bother to take the check to the bank.) The same goes, but even more so, for the notion that one can live luxuriously and enjoy such luxury and yet not have any desire to maintain or preserve that luxury - to wit, have no "attachment" to that luxury. Quite simply, buying a luxury item is a manifestation of a desire for that item; similarly, making arrangements to live in a mansion is a manifestation of a desire to live in the mansion.

Of course one can (and probably should) have a healthy desire for luxurious things - no one likes to hang out with a lugubrious ascetic. But having a healthy desire is not the same as having no desire at all, and friendly tales of complete "nonattachment" do little to establish their own psychological plausibility.

*In fact, one definition of 'simplicity' is 'the absence of luxury'.

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