ERE as secular monasticism?

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
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Hristo Botev
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ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by Hristo Botev »

This article hits on several recurring themes I see on this forum: https://www.firstthings.com/article/202 ... ular-monks

Needless to say, this ascetic conception of the good life leaves no room for marriage and parenthood. A long-term commitment to a woman and children opens one to enslavement. The “new celibacy” is one of the habits of success. Family life is constant disruption. You can’t sleep soundly when your child wails all night with a cough and fever. You can’t perfect yourself when you must always consider your wife’s needs. Secular monkhood requires a strict regimen. It’s good for a man to be alone.

ertyu
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by ertyu »

Two thoughts: commitment isn't automatically to a-woman-and-children. One could be committed to a partner of another gender, to one's dog, to an inflatable doll, to a roomba. Commitment to any of the above (including a partner from a gender that allows you to procreate) does not necessarily imply you will procreate.

Furthermore, you don't have to be committed to "A" woman (man, doll, roomba). You can be committed to more than one in different ways and to a different extent. You can be committed to your parents. You can be committed in a friendship. Etc.

Third, the practice of commitment, and the practice of parenting, can also be seen as ascetic. There is a lot of overcoming of ego, and a lot of overcoming of one's inner bullshit, and a lot of discipline and self-mastery required for one to become a good partner and a good parent. In that way, the asceticism describled in the quote you exerpted strikes me more as an avoidance of perfecting the work of life ("it's too hard") rather than a mastery of it or a perfection of yourself. There's the uncomfortable fact that you can't perfect what you don't know is there for perfecting, and you don't know it's there for perfecting until you've been knee-jerk "triggered" and you notice in yourself that you regard the child you're meant to love and care for as a disruptor of your navel-gazing.

Disclaimer 1: caretaker fatigue and parental fatigue are a thing, and people do need alone time to recharge. I am not arguing the only work there is in life is to constantly be sacrificing to the care of others.

Disclaimer 2: single and child-free here.

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fiby41
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by fiby41 »

Marriage is a phase of life. I don't think it should be dragged forever once the child can be on its own. Our specie has a long incumbancy time, we require first fourths of our lifetime to be reared by our parents. Pair bonding and nurturing instincts have developed in us to facilitate this as those children whose parents took care of the children into their adulthood had a higher 'reproductive potential' (it is a thing if you search for it.)

It was advised that the first third of a life should be given to celibacy and learning.
Second third to parenthood and maritial life.
And the last third to renunciation.

In this way paying of the three debts owed to the father, guru and forefathers. First two are self evident, third: you are sum total, a product of an unbroken chain of progeneration since the beginning of life, and you owe them to 'pay it forward.'

Jason
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by Jason »

The question HB is posing is not whether you agree with not getting married and having children, the question is whether there is a parallel between those choosing not to get married and propagate within the context of 21st century ERE and those choosing such a decision within the context of Medieval Christendom. I think the answer at least from a utilitarian perspective is yes. Monasticism was a specific "class" within pre-Reformation Christendom that believed denial of marriage and propagation brought them to a closer communion with God. Those deciding against marriage and propagation within the context of 21st century ERE believe it brings them closer to their goal of ERE. I think there is also a parallel asceticism involved. The basic differences are (1) the collapse of the transcendent into the immanent for those seeking ERE (the goal is limited to this life) as opposed to the Monks who were seeking post-earthly life glory and (2) monasteries were essentially feudal when it came to economics i.e. whatever endeavor was particular to their monastery, whether it was book production, gardening, beer making etc. Money was used to cover their expenses and the rest kicked back to the church. From my understanding, Monks did not have personal bank accounts.

That being said, there were different orders of Monks. Some were more inclined to study (Dominicans). Some were more inclined to do good works (Fransiscans). So like ERE there was diversity amongst its members.

ertyu
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by ertyu »

Jason wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:13 am
Those deciding against marriage and propagation within the context of 21st century ERE believe it brings them closer to their goal of ERE.
Hm idk. For me personally, the children decision and the ERE decision were separate. I inherently do not experience a strong drive to procreate. Not having children was not a result of a commitment to saving or of ecological concerns. ERE to me is about escaping the suck, not about uniting with a mystical ideal of ERE-ness.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

The slowdown is procreation in developed nations is a pretty interesting development really. Since species are ""supposed to"" consume all the resources and reproduce until the resources are gone. I can only concluded that the ""supposed to"" argument of evolution is not exactly true because numerous people in the developed world, both male and female, both gay and straight, seem to lack any internal drive for children.

My explanation are that people don't have to have kids anymore due to the economic structure more than anything. Kids are work, and when you can ensure your own personal survival without them, more people opt to pursue other goals instead. In a similar vein to how people choose privacy when they afford it instead of living with endless extended family. Our actions reveal our true preferences.

Back on topic, I think the secular monks are more the Tim Ferris Tech Startup crowd than the ERE crowd, although there is some overlap with the FIRE crowd. It's really the weird rituals and mantra beliefs that define them more than anything. Ie lemon juice for breakfast and arcane lifehacks.

chenda
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by chenda »

Its notable that some religions reject monasticism (Islam, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism) whereas others (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism) embrace it to varying degrees. Critics of monasticism parallel some of the critics of ERE - what if everybody did this ? 'You should contribute to society' Defenders of monasticism point to its value in teaching, learning, inspiring social action. There are some parallels with ERE as a movement to bring about social change through individual choices rather than collective action.

Interesting article on a Hindu ascetics attitude towards the independence struggle in India: https://www.davidgodman.org/bhagavan-an ... f-his-day/

sid3
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by sid3 »

There may be a similarity between the ERE lifestyle, parenting, and teaching in that they all require a plunge. I have said before that I will probably never become a parent or teacher because I would want to do it perfectly and I will never be in a situation to do it perfectly. This is paradoxical because I never do anything perfectly, yet I continue to do things. It seems that many in this community have a similar basis for deferring the plunge into retirement from a seemingly ideal position to do so, and having the additional responsibilities associated with children makes it more difficult to reach the ideal plunge point.

Toska2
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by Toska2 »

The Fourth Turning mentions this. Its not money, economics, education or "ascetic conception of the good life".

Rather everyone from both genders are being fractured by choice. We can order anything in any flavor, shape or size. What we can't (intimate relationships) is of no big deal. I have my coworkers, drinking buddies, tennis group, frisbee group, dog walking sessions, parents, step parents, siblings of every kind, ect.

Jack Dorsey may find a woman willing for a lemon juice cleanse but that ice bath might stop her cold.

steveo73
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by steveo73 »

Interesting article. I have 3 children but I'm also at the same age as the people he is talking about (I'm 46).

I don't believe you can really be extreme (say retire before 30) and have kids unless you have a lot of stuff go your way ala MMM (and he only had 1 kid). I definitely can't do that even though we definitely live lives that are a little different to the norm. So I think kids may hold you back in some ways but my life also wouldn't be the same without having kids. My family don't hold me back. I love my kids (and wife and parents and brothers) and they mean the world to me.

I suppose I don't see success in the same terms as the article which to me focuses on extreme wealth. This is also very different to ERE.

I have a friend who doesn't have a wife/partner/gf or kids. He though spends his life drinking alcohol and gambling on the horses etc at whatever pub he gets too. He doesn't save a cent.

So to me there is some truth in that article but there are other ways to live and you get to make those decisions for yourself. You get to choose how you live your life.

There will always be subjective opinions on what is the good life. I don't see the following point as somehow being the good life. Personally I prefer my life.
After drinking a juice made from Himalayan sea salt, water, and lemon, he takes an ice bath. He meditates for one hour each morning and one hour each evening. On weekends, he eats nothing and drinks only water. Before going to bed, he moves between a dry sauna and an ice bath. A device monitors the quality of his slumber.

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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by jacob »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:57 am
Back on topic, I think the secular monks are more the Tim Ferris Tech Startup crowd than the ERE crowd, although there is some overlap with the FIRE crowd. It's really the weird rituals and mantra beliefs that define them more than anything. Ie lemon juice for breakfast and arcane lifehacks.
I agree with AE and as the high pope of ERE, I'll further proclaim that ...

...what's described in the OP article seems to fall mostly under the Silicon Valley lifehacker ethos where highly self-disciplined "personal development" rituals serves to set this crowd apart from the credit fueled lowbrow consumerism that now dominates the rest of society. Instead of competing on who has the biggest flat screen TV or the best instagram holiday photo shots, these guys compare meticulous spreadsheets showing just how organized their personal lives are down to measuring exactly how many hours they play video games, work, or practice their ukulele complete with running averages and target goals. There's that aspect (distinguishing oneself from others based on time and discipline, since everybody can buy anything on credit these days) and then there's the "self discipline for the sake of self discipline" which is practiced religiously. It's a way to signal status. Someone who can spend 90 minutes a day on "meditation" clearly has surplus resources compared to someone who doesn't.

Any individual overlap with ERE is purely coincidental. I don't see anything within ERE that requires the practice of self-discipline for its own sake and in particular coming up with weird goals and rituals to demonstrate such discipline to oneself and others.

ERE does not require a ritual focus on any activity. Indeed, from a Wheaton perspective, optimizing variables is a level 4-5 behavior. At level 7-8, ERE just sits in the internalized background. Eventually ERE should not be something one thinks about. ERE should serve the person, not the other way around.

I suppose ERE ultimately does create the freedom-to incorporate making self-development a high priority insofar one wanted that. I suppose it would create the daily structure that many miss from their work. However, so would raising children, being a house-spouse, saving the whales, or running a fantasy football league, if one was into that.

steveo73
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by steveo73 »

jacob wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:52 pm
I don't see anything within ERE that requires the practice of self-discipline for its own sake and in particular coming up with weird goals and rituals to demonstrate such discipline to oneself and others.
I suppose ERE has some weird goals and rituals ala comparing WR's or how to save money or how to optimise flows in your life. I also suppose we demonstrate how good we are to each by talking about it.

I agree with your point though. The focus of the Silicon Valley/Ferris hacker community to me is very different.
jacob wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:52 pm
I suppose ERE ultimately does create the freedom-to incorporate making self-development a high priority insofar one wanted that. I suppose it would create the daily structure that many miss from their work. However, so would raising children, being a house-spouse, saving the whales, or running a fantasy football league, if one was into that.
ERE does create some freedom in your life. I'm still working and I will be for a number of years but I think my life is a lot less intense than the norm because I've been frugal for a number of years. I don't have a massive focus on work in my life apart from turning up and getting home again. Leading a good life is a focus for me and even though I'm not FI my lifestyle has enabled me to focus more on trying to create a good life for myself.

Alphaville
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Re: ERE as secular monasticism?

Post by Alphaville »

I’m a natural-born Epicurean with no taste for ascetic torments, and I plan to use ERE to deepen my enjoyment of life not destroy it in the name of some symbolic personal grandiosity I can’t enjoy for dinner.

Just saying. :D

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