August Turak & The Trappist Monks

Last Thursday, December 9, i3 Business Solutions brought August Turak back to Grand Rapids, Michigan to speak on Service & Selflessness in the context of business and personal life.

I love theology & philosophy in the context of relationships and communication and am a goal oriented – mission – vision type of guy who finds pausing to smell the roses is practically a purposeful act that I have to schedule on my calendar.  August’s business message that treads into transformation and spirituality gave me another wallop to the head.

August Turak won Grand Prize for his Brother John essay in the John Templeton Foundation’s Power of Purpose Essay Contest.  I highly recommend that you stop here and take 10 minutes to read the 3 page essay.  August’s Business Secrets of the Trappists in Forbes.com topped the charts as Forbes’ most highly rated article.  Here’s a guy who’s spent 14 years working alongside Trappist Monks at the Mepkin Abbey including a few 2 month stints.

My spiritual journey has taken me from an absolute context of either – or; right – wrong; good – bad; if – then categorical view of the world to a paradoxical “and stance” view where we have choices – in many instances – between two ‘right’ or acceptable options where we can relate to both concepts. Our Western Civilization and fundamental Christian world view tells us that we choose either selflessness and service or selfishness and narcissism.  The paradox of selfishness and selflessness is an oversimplified philosophical and theological conundrum.  It can’t be both.  It must be either / or.  There is a right and a wrong.  Or could there be another way to look at this?  I love this stuff.

August Turak’s fundamental message at our seminar was:  “Question everything.”  Dig deeper.  Things may not be as simple as they appear.  Ask questions.  Don’t assume.  Inquire.

His secondary message was:  use those questions to transcend or transform yourself and your business to something bigger – something more meaningful.

August states in his Brother John essay:  “We must commit to facing our doubts, limitations, and self-contradictions head on while holding on to this voice of eternity … Working toward this miraculous transformation, re-birth, or inner alchemy is the true purpose of life. This transformation is what the West calls “conversion” and the East “enlightenment,” and is the fruit of our commitment to the authentically purposeful life that Father Christian described so well.”

We can choose to take a risk.  We can choose to ask tough questions.  During this Christmas season, we can rediscover what many describe as the “worldly monk” says:

It’s in our own self interest to forget our self interest.”

Heresy!  It can’t be both.  We must choose the either / or!  Or maybe we could question that assumption?

“Go ye’, therefore, and do likewise,” during this Christmas season.

Michael Ritsema
i3 Business Solutions, LLC


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