The story of early Christian monasticism as a whole … can serve as a rich cultural resource capable of supporting the work of developing a contemplative ecological vision. Of particular value to this effort is the ancient monastic vision of spiritual transformation—rooted in a commitment to sustained, embodied contemplative practice. At the heart of this practice was the effort to realize in their lives what the monks sometimes referred to as purity of heart (cf. Mt 5:8), a way of seeing oneself and the world as whole and undivided. The self was a cosmos unto itself, as rich and intricate and profound as the physical cosmos, and the monks believed their fates were intertwined with one another. They were also convinced that it was possible to to recast one’s relationship to the world and others in terms of genuine freedom and reciprocity, and in so doing come to reinhabit paradise. But achieving such freedom and seeing it bear fruit in the world required the will to struggle against the tyrannical force of the ego and make oneself vulnerable to the long, slow steady cleansing of one’s consciousness. The healing of the world required healing of the self.
Douglas E. Christie
The Blue Sapphire of the Mind