What inspires a person to become a monk? Is it really a sacrifice?
Meeting a few monks of Ananda Marga is an opportunity to ask them these questions and try to find more about the life of a yogi.
With the eyes full of joy here is the first personal account:
“I can help more people to dedicate their energy towards the betterment of society. I like to live the life of a yogic monk as it allows me to follow good rules and be one with the spirit of such a life.”
Behind the serious demeanor the next monk hid a big heart of compassionate love:
“…To be free from all the bondages. More than a sacrifice it is a big challenge. You have to be very focused on your goal that is God realization, if you want to be successful.”
Most of the time English is not the first language as these monks are verily from all-over the world:
“It allows one to step away from the traditional life in society where the summum bonum is confined to oneself. I feel I can offer something meaningful for the whole creation.”
I approach few of them sitting at the dining table but they politely refuse to answer the questions. They prefer to talk individually in a concentrated way and not casually while sipping the soup and chatting among themselves. Monk life means also a kind of sacredness and secrecy in their dealings. They don’t reveal their secrets and their feelings in a cheap way.
“It was a inner calling that I followed at every step of my growth since I was age 6 and ended up becoming a monk.”
One of them start speaking in Hindi and I could not understand what he was trying to convey. Everyone understanding the same language started laughing:
“It is difficult to express in words. I can tell that once I started doing meditation, my whole life changed. I was a different person.”
Even few words can have a big meaning, certainly a deeper one:
“It is the attraction for the Great. This is all His grace.”
From the answers I get something but it is only the surface. There is something deeper than the words can tell captured in a lightness in the eyes, in a slow natural movement of one hand. I observe them and they observe us. They are very discriminate about what they say and what they do. Overall a broad meaning of service for the welfare of all in a true benevolent and compassionate way seems to be the common denominator for all.
“The ideal mission of human life is to love One and serve all. This is the spirit of a monk. Everybody enjoys their selfish pleasures. To sacrifice our individual pleasure and comfort for the welfare of all beings make the Supreme Father happy.”
“No, it is not a sacrifice to be a monk because we are intensely attracted to the spiritual life. By being monks we live the spiritual life to the fullest capacity and we enjoy it intensely.”
“…To have a closer communication or contact with God. And also to have have all the time available for engaging in His service. It is not a sacrifice because it becomes natural.”
“It is Ba’ba’s grace. To do something noble and extraordinary compared to what normal people do. You are able to relinquish personal pleasures by sharing them with others.”
After a relatively long pause, with a deep voice surging from a quite heavy bag of experience:
“Many monks have done many great things and brought changes in the society. It is a kind of revolution or rebellion to the normal canons, we can say. As a monk you give up family relationships, friends, national belonging, and money for the sake of the common good.”
“My father inspired me to become a monk. If you want success in your path of spirituality, he told me, it is better you become a monk. Of course he talked from the experience he had as a married person who had the same aspiration. So I followed his advice.”
“I don’t think it is a sacrifice if the person has the vocation. The great desire to serve others is the sign. It was the love that you feel for your spiritual master that made the difference for me.”
“The freedom to interact with many people and cultures attracted me most. Being a monk is not a sacrifice. Rather it is the dedication to the work or the duty that implies sacrifice.”
Having had enough answers and personal contact with all the monks I turned to a lay person who happened to have joined the group and knew them very well by being a spiritual teacher as well:
“They have sacrificed much in their personal life in order to serve humanity. Each monk has a special gift to offer. The discipline of the spiritual practices they perform and the identification with universal values gives them the opportunity to share those personal gifts with the world. It is by doing the spiritual practices that you might know better who they are and what they are actually doing. By the words only it is simply not possible.”
“Yet, it is a very special time you have when you interact with a monk. With patience we can become fortunate recipients of the gifts monks can offer. At a more subtle level, their presence can impart a blessing or a positive vibration for those who are around them.”
It is an interesting perspective although personally I don’t like to idealize them as Gods or semi-Gods able to transform society just by their presence. My view is that they are simply good human beings who want to serve others in their special or personal way. I see their treasure in the simplicity of their minds and life an authenticity of being fully human, with good and bad aspects of personality. They are dedicated to express compassion and love through their actions. They teach us by example how we can all live together celebrating our differences. But why they all wear this funny bright orange dress? I forgot to ask it!
Ac. Vimaleshananda Avt.