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eine Prämisse - a premiss (to a project that was never completed, written by John Orme Mills)
The "monasticism" of the proposed Mljet Centre is the crucial link in the project, because without it why go to Mljet at all? Without it the Mljet Centre would be merely one more research centre, and the only remarkable thing about it would be its beautiful but remote location. Furthermore, without it there would almost certainly be much less fruitful exchange of ideas between the environmentalists and the researchers in communications technology at the Centre.
However, at present the “monasticism" of the proposed Centre is also the weakest link in the project, for no ready-made group of "community activators" of the right sort can be put into Mljet. These activators will not only have to "grow into their jobs" by sharing a particular way of life; they will also have to share in common a particular outlook which will itself mature as time goes by.
All I can do here is suggest what should be the foundations of that way of life and of that outlook
The key-word is wholeness. Here much more is meant by wholeness than "having a well-balanced personality"; we mean here by wholeness that much more profound insight and creativity and balance which can alone bring us into unity with the sources of our being and with creation - a product of growth of understanding and sensitivity and reflection.
Of course, the notion of wholeness has an important place today in the thinking of both environmentalists and of researchers in communications technology. Environmentalists are conscious of the inherent equilibrium in most ecosystems, and of how human beings are destroying it. Researchers in communications technology are conscious of the fact that near-immediate access to the whole of human knowledge is now within the bounds of feasibility, and of the immense implications of this.
Yet both environmentalists and researchers in communications technology are at least to some extent also aware that they - and we too - are handicapped basically because they - and we too are not “whole”. They - and we too - have to grow in wholeness it environmentalism and access to knowledge is to advance beyond a certain point. But how ?
Today the pressures on the human person are growing and simultaneously many of humanity's traditional support-systems are weakening.
There is a need to establish “healing points" of refuge and recultivation, and this will necessitate looking afresh for inspiration at the world's monastic traditions.
How can these "healing points" help to 'heal" human beings? They can do it by helping to lead human beings in the direction of wholeness.
Of course, living in a monastic-type community does not do that just on its own. (That is why so many experiments in communal living have failed disastrously.) The community life needs to be succoured and sustained by an objective bigger than itself.
The world's two major monastic traditions, Western and Eastern, have both been rooted in a transcendent life-way - a way to perfect wholeness, in other words: this having for its final object in the Christian tradition unity with a God who has chosen to share our life completely, and in the Buddhist tradition freedom from all desires.
Environmentalists and researchers in communications technology will not come to the Mljet Centre to become divinised or to enter nirvana, but part of the purpose of their coming will be to grow in wholeness. The life lived in the community will deepen the insights which community-members bring to their professional work, and this will be a two-way relationship which will also enrich the community.
John Orme Mills OP
London, 27 August 1998