If Truth Be Told: A Monk's Memoir

My work mate and I were having a DMC (deep meaningful conversation) the other day about life in general, our goals and aspirations. It wasn't a pity party or draining type of conversation but it was extremely engaging with lots of questions (mostly from my end) and lots of information from his end. We are both uni students, he's recently gone back to uni to give it another go and I am in my final semester. This time of the year lots of students are inundated with assignments, preparing for exams and everything else in between. It is also very likely that because of all this work, somewhere along the way, you've lost your A-game and are struggling to find the right kind of motivation to keep you going.If you're in this position keep reading ;) Sure we all have big dreams and bigger goals that help us get by just enough for us not to drop out of uni (or if you're African dropping out just simply isn't an option, if you still want to be considered part of the family) but what about the smaller goals? The everyday habits that ought to keep us on the right track so we don't derail from the overall picture. This is the question I honestly never took the time to fully consider. I know what my bigger picture & end goal is -I see it clearly all the time but if you were to ask me about the smaller things I'd pause for a minute.

Thankfully I am surrounded by workmates who've managed to balance that part out for me and one of them instructed me to read, If Truth Be Told: A Monk's Memoir, a novel by Om Swami. His rationale was that it's the perfect book for me to read as I approach the end of my degree and begin to deal with the "what's next for me" questions.

My reason for sharing this with you isn't just to bore you with information about a book I haven't read yet but to share with you the work of Om Swami which I have been obsessed with since he recommended the book to me.

The book deals with meditation, finding your way, money, status, power and every main thing a human deals with in life. I have always been opposed to meditating and perhaps even spiritual growth to a certain extent because I hate having the option to use what I read somewhere as a crutch to make an excuse for where I lack. I always like to take responsibility for myself (even when I'm wrong or where I make poor choices) but its all a work in progress so I don't mind learning new ways of approaching life.

Below is a short piece on what you can expect from the book and Om Swami himself.

We are a rather strange species, if you ask me. Strange because almost always, we want something different from what we already have. Our capacity to be selfless is as immense as our potential to be selfish. I can vouch for this because I saw myself as a kind person, and didn’t think I had it in me to cause pain to my loved ones. Yet, when propelled by my desire, I inflicted it upon them effortlessly.

One morning, I got up, got ready, went to work and did not go back home in the evening. Instead, I boarded a train to take me away from all my certainties, from the people I loved and from the wealth I owned. Giving my family no warning, no indication even, I simply walked away although I knew full well it would be a point of no return.

It’s not that I didn’t think about their feelings. I did, but chose to ignore how they might have felt because I couldn’t postpone my inner calling any further. I no longer wanted to get up every morning, work the entire day, come home in the evening, eat my dinner and go to sleep just because everyone else was doing it, just because it was considered ‘normal’. Who decided what was normal anyway? If I had to live my life by the rules and conditions set by others then what was the goal of my life, what was my individual purpose—if there was any?

Before me lay the material wealth I had earned painstakingly over the last decade. But cars, properties and a bank balance were lifeless things at the end of the day. They always had been. I wasn’t born with these possessions and they certainly wouldn’t go with me after I died. What was the struggle of life about then? And, whatever it was about, was it worth it?

Countless times, I had given myself the consolation that I would find the purpose of my life one day, but this consolation was wearing thin while my questions beat like muffled drums in my head. With each strike, the sound was getting louder, getting closer. It began to drown out all the music around me: the melodious songs of the birds, the pouring rain, the compassionate words of my mother and the caring ones of my father; nothing was audible anymore, let alone joyous.

Leaving behind everything I had worked towards, razing all that I had built and abandoning everyone I had ever known, I felt indifferent towards my own past. An uninterested stranger. Just as the advancing dawn erases the existence of the night, my departure from the material world wiped away my life as I had known it.

From an Internet cafe, I sent emails to my family and close friends, saying I was going away and didn’t know if and when I would return. No emotions, no sentiments tugged at my heart when I deleted my email account, destroyed the SIM card, gave away my phone and broke up with my material life of three decades. Casting away the labels that defined me—son, brother, friend, CEO, MBA, colleague—I walked out of the store and into a new skin.

This new existence was utter nakedness; no, not in physical terms, but in being nothing, having nothing, not even an identity or a name — the life of a monk. It was only in this state of emptiness, as it were, that I could be filled by what I sought most desperately: a true inner life.

- See more at: http://omswami.com/2014/10/if-truth-be-told.html#sthash.Hj6wmnxw.dpuf


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