Ex-Monk Autobiography

What was it like to be a monk for 14 years in a Swami Monastic Order?

Brahmachari Scott
Brahmachari Scott

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

Thanksgiving meal, during "Bootcamp" Postulancy (new monk) training.
Thanksgiving meal, during Monk “Bootcamp” or Postulancy (new monk) training.

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

Overview of the Vows (and Rules) of the Monastic Order of Self-Realization Fellowship

The Four Vows or Rules of the Monastic Order of Self-Realization Fellowship: Simplicity  Chastity  Loyalty  Obedience

26 Rules of Conduct of a Resident Disciple of the Monastic Self-Realization Order

Standing under gurus painting after Novitiate (Novice) Vow ceremony
After Novitiate (Novice) Vow ceremony

 

After Brahmacharya Vow ceremony
After Brahmacharya Vow ceremony
As "Treeman" in public Halloween show for Los Angeles/Mt Washington community. Me and 2 other monks made this costume from scratch.
As “Treeman” in public Halloween show for Los Angeles/Mt Washington community. All costumes made by monks.

Monks’ Halloween: Chinese Shadow Play 

I Was A Monk

Monk's Halloween Show
Monk’s Halloween Show

2 comments

  1. Scott at SkepticMeditations.com

    @Andy: I’ve not been to India but lived with monks from India who told me much about the Indian ashrams. Of course, ashrams in the West are very Westernized. I read your recent post about your Sivananda visit. I followed your blog and look forward to reading more. Keep me informed via comments or emails if you’d like. thanks

  2. andy

    I randomly stumbled on your blog. Very fascinating you lived this life for so long. I have very limited Ashram experience both good and bad. I’m very much looking forward to your future blog posts. Cheers

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