From the age of 23 to 28 I lived as a monk.
For the first four years I slept and worked in a small office. Every morning at 4:00 am, I would wake up for two hours of scripture study and mantra meditation. Between cooking two simple meals per day, I would provide technical support to the office staff, maintain a Linux file server, and research and develop full-text search software for transliterated Sanskrit Hindu scripture. I traveled to India for two months to teach others how to use the software.
In 2005, I moved into a monastery in Northern California. There, I was ordained into the Gaudiya Vaisnava lineage of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. I performed ritualistic deity worship (puja) every morning and evening. My spiritual practice (sadhana) became more intense. My cooking became more sophisticated. I learned to milk cows, make curd, and harvest vegetables. I also helped create the index for Siksastakam of Sri Caitanya.
Most importantly, I met a monk and mentor whose teachings and example continue to affect my life very deeply. I experienced, first-hand, the personality of someone who exemplifies selflessness, compassion, and devotion. His affect on me is so profound that each day I reflect on the experience I’m overwhelmed with humility and gratitude.
After 1.5 years in the monastery, I came back to North Carolina. In the five years since then, I’ve married, honeymooned in India, and buried my father.
This July, I’m visiting the monastery with my wife. In many respects, I’m returning home, where I learned the most important aspect of life: giving.