The Pillars of Virtue


i poverty5 indigo-signature-bannerI want to understand more about the lifestyle we have chosen so I have been looking to wise people who live unorthodox lives that have similarities to ours. This is the first in a series of six posts.

I have looked at those who are self reliant and yet connected to and reliant on others, to people whose life involved a search, whose motives may have been misunderstood and whose choices seem out of step with our modern concepts of success and happiness.

The people that I have been considering are monks and nuns.

I am not going to discuss their faith in God, but rather think about how they devote themselves to a life that involves poverty, obedience, submission, and silence. The more I consider these people the more I felt I could learn from them. I am convinced that many of these men and women have had some of the same struggles I do, such as how to balance self respect with submission, about how to be a better person, how to live out of step with social norms and to live a life of obedience.

I have written six explorations which I will post the next few weeks.

The first of these is …


i poverty1* I am not glorifying the kind of poverty where people cannot feed themselves or have to turn off the heating in winter. Monastic poverty is a rejection of personal wealth whilst knowing that your basic needs will be taken care of.*

Contrary to what makes sense this is not about being poor, rather it is perception of wealth, worldly perceptions of success and how that connects to your personal perception of contentment.

“I stand before you tonight to represent the people who do not count: the poor, the poets and the monks. As long as there are people who are trying to realise the divine in themselves, there shall be hope in the world.”

Thomas Merton

We are taught to associate money with contentment and that if we aspire to be succesfull then we must first attain outward manifestations of wealth. No mater how much success we have we are encouraged to aim a little higher each time- keep spending, keep earning, keep spending , like hamsters on a wheel. This makes life an unhappy struggle, not just a money struggle but also a happiness struggle as our aim is always just beyond our reach.

i poverty2“We are certainly influenced by role models and if we are surrounded by images of beautiful, rich people, we will start to think that to be beautiful and rich is very important.” Alain De Botton (I know he is not a monk but he is a philosopher.)

Could we firstly imagine  that attaining what you want and what you need can be done without spending one penny and without altering how your external life? That is a thought contrary to much of modern life and far closer to a monastic ideal of poverty.

“Pick up any newspaper or magazine, open the TV and you’ll be bombarded with suggestions of how to have a successful life. Some of these suggestions are deeply unhelpful to our own projects and priorities and we should take care.” Alain De Botton

What you want in this lifestyle (whether it be a spanking or to be tethered to a St Andrews cross)  for is unlikely to be represented in a magazine or a book. Your aims are not worldly, and not of the world of adverts and films. They do not understand you and if you allow them to guide you will be led astray. Look at Fifty Shades, even when the world of business tries to understand it misses the point.

We are raised to believe we need what we are told we need and to challenge this is difficult.

How often have you thought that your life will be easier when you …lose the weight, get prettier clothes, get your dream job, have had the holiday of your dreams, found the beautiful person, become the beautiful person, redecorate, read all those books,

and so on and so on?

And when you have done whatever it is that needs to be done then you will be ready to explore your submission, your dominance, your spanking dreams. But first – all the other things. Spanking and submission will have to wait until next week/month/year/century.

“I will be in a better place to obey him next week when work is not so busy.”

“I will be more consistent next week when I don’t have a cold.”

I imagine that finding time for him to spank me and for me to feel like I need him to spank me will be easier when we have holidays. We would have more holidays if we were millionaires. I would feel more submissive if all my knickers were Agent  Provocateur and that way my external life would create my inner life.

This is all codswallop.

i poverty4I have what I need right now. You have what you need. Do not wait to begin until …(insert your own confusing aim here) … you can start your own life now.

Monastic poverty is meant to free the monastic for conversatio: a life of listening.

Is your life freeing you to focus on what you need rather than what you are told you should want?

Are your basic needs being met allowing you to focus on the life you want?

“A monastic has those things which he/she needs, but not more. Too many possessions clutter the environment and cause distraction. If the monastic’s  room or the monastery itself is filled with all sorts of gadgets, the monastic runs the risk of being entertained or busied all day, never having the time to listen. On the other hand, monastic poverty should not be a poverty of destitution which would only result in the monastic being overly concerned with the daily needs of life. Such a poverty would mitigate against listening because the monastic would be too concerned with mere survival to be listening to another.” The Benedictine Rule

Are your possessions (or their acquisition) distracting you from the life you want?

Do you have enough material security to focus on the life you want?

You and I, we are not islands in need of development but we are flooded with material desires, let those ebb away to see what you really want.

The monastic life teaches that a life of poverty is not only realising that your internal wealth is greater in every sense than your external wealth but also realising that you are defined only by your internal wealth.

You won’t be richer once you focus on your internal values but you will stand a chance of finding what you were looking for all along.


  • Go on a false aspiration diet. For a week avoid adverts, magazines or films that make you wish you were something other than what you are.  Try to notice how often you wish for things that are either the result of bags of money or of photo shop.
  • Re-order one room in your house. Without spending one penny make the space work better for you. Sometimes we can’t see what we have for the clutter.
  • Go for a walk, appreciate what you see.
  • Place an already owned vanilla pervertable in every room.  Your house can make a statement for you.
  • Watch out for the put off statements, “This will happen more when …”
  • Turn off gadgets for a short time each day. Your phone, your computer, your TV, Ipad- they all drown us out and set an agenda for us. Use the time for listening.
  • i poverty23

10 Responses to “The Pillars of Virtue”

  1. HI Indido
    Lovely post. I’ve often thought of being a nun as a road I might take. But I drink too much wine!! I love the similarities you point up here between D/s and the monastic life. And the different ways of seeing fulfilment. Of course, being able to listen – to oneself in the main – is such a difficult art, no wonder everyone wants to be distracted from it. I’m happy to say, I follow most of your ideas already but I’m dying to know what a “vanilla pervertable” is…. Do I have any???
    Lots of love, and luck in your quest to understand submission. It will enlighten us each week.

  2. The words “this is the first of six” filled me with joy. I love your gentle, inquisitive, lively, complex mind. I love what you think about. I love the things you struggle with, because they are so often the things I struggle with, too. As always, you open doors in my mind to so many things. This post fits so well with a book I am reading called Sacred Space by Denise Linn. And I have just ordered The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton, so thank you for that, too. Kisses.

  3. Such wonderful advice that could benefit everyone. Thanks for a terrific post.

  4. HiDJ I like the post and the pictures and agree with everyone that sent a response so far.

  5. 5 MrJ

    There is clearly wisdom in recognizing the wisdom of other non-conformist, sovereign, was of life.

    Thank you for sharing. It brings you close to all of us,

  6. 6 Lily

    Indigo, I think what you are talking about is having the courage to think for ourselves, rather than letting society dictate what we should have or want. Brava for that!

    Blackbird, a “vanilla pervertable” is an object that can have an innocuous use but also be used (“perverted”) as a spanking implement. A wooden spoon, for example. (I wrote a post about those a few days ago.)

  7. Yes, Lily! Feel rather stupid now for not realising until T said that must be what it means….. DUH!!! Thanks!!

    In our house it would definitely be a hairbrush hanging around innocently(!)


  8. 9 Svetlana

    The last bullet suggestion point leaves something open to interpretation, but if it means I can keep my underwear and shoe collection, I find it reassuring. 🙂

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