What was it like to be a monk for 14 years in a Swami Monastic Order?
These and many other questions I hope to address in future posts. Below is an overview and index of my autobiographical posts and photos that will give you an understanding of my personal background, experiences, and conditions–where I am coming from.
Before we start, I’d like to get out of the way what could be perceived, by some, as my somewhat less than respectful comments of much-loved holy men or their ‘spiritual teachings’. People I respect. People, I believe, demand and should be allowed dignity. Ideas, however, don’t necessarily deserve respect nor should they all be dignified: all ideas, especially those of ultimate importance, need be demonstrated as valid, true, and able to stand up to reasonable scrutiny. Or, those ideas don’t deserve to be taken seriously or as valid truth claims. The purpose of this website is to explore–without idealizing or idolizing our subject–the extraordinary claims of yogis, meditators, and mystics.
Does yoga, meditation, mysticism deliver on its promises? Was there more to life than meets the eye?
The extraordinary claims of yogis, meditators, and mystics were either true or false. I was determined to find out.
A Renunciant’s Life
During my Postulant “monk in training” phase, we were isolated from the regular monks in renunciant “bootcamp”. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, on the bluffs in Encinitas, our ashram housed 50 monastics. As a postulant, I signed-on with full intention that monkhood was a lifelong commitment. No more sex, drugs, or rock-n-roll, we were told! How an ex-punk rocker, like me, survived 14 years a monk was a awesome marvel. As you may venture to imagine, renunciant life offers some incredibly unique perspectives and once-in-life experiences.
To be clear, the cloister held wonderful fellowship and harmony on the surface. Behind the scenes though, monkdom could be harsh. Psychological warfare and power plays ran rampant in the minds, hearts, and actions of many a monk. One gets to see what others are made of (better or worse) in desperate circumstances. The ashram currency was attention, affection, and spiritual “energy” coming from the guru-leader and spiritual-corporate promotion within the organization. Our rules and vows were taken seriously.
Rules and Vows of Self-Realization Fellowship Monastic Order