Give Me Thy Heart: The Monastic Life of Self-Realization Fellowship

Give Me Thy Heart: The Monastic Life of Self-Realization Fellowship

To be a monk means to be someone
who is filled with this desire to find God. In one sense, nobody thinks
he’s good enough to live this life. But, on the other hand, nobody is
asking for perfection either. The life is a process of
working on yourself and as long as you are
willing to do that, that’s really the only qualification. Why did I come? Well everyone has their unique story. For me it’s a calling. I never saw myself
becoming a monk. If you asked my friends where
they thought I would be it certainly wouldn’t be
in a monastery. I was just an everyday guy
doing everyday things I guess. And then I went to a place
called Hidden Valley, which is an opportunity
for male members to have retreats and
experience the life there. And, I was hooked. I just felt the joy of serving
something other than myself. I’d never felt anything
like that before. Let us begin the exercises. Heavenly Father, it is Thou who
dost directly sustain our bodies. Awaken within us conscious will,
conscious health, conscious vitality, and
conscious realization. The routine itself gives you peace and a great foundation to build
your spiritual life on. Just following with the group and
the routine, the schedule that we have, makes everything so much easier. Being out in the world, trying
to practice these techniques, you would probably have to use
five to ten times as much energy and willpower and effort
to actually do the routine that we do automatically each day. That fact in itself is so
helpful when later on you sit down to pray and meditate and try to contact God within. Divine Mother,
help me to seek Thee as the ever-increasing
bliss of meditation. You know, when one is looking
at the ashram from the outside one has a certain perception; and when you go to Hidden Valley that
perception gets a little more concrete because you have first-hand experience
of what an ashram is like, what the monastic lifestyle is like, and the routine and so forth. But, when you actually
come into the ashram, not just living at Hidden Valley
as a retreatant or a resident, but you actually enter the ashram as a monk, it is a whole different
ballgame, so to speak, where it dawns on you the purity
and the sanctity of this lifestyle that you have embraced. In theory, I had a certain concept, but when you actually start
living it on a daily basis it is overwhelming in the beginning
because you realize that, if I continue to live this way the potential of this lifestyle to completely transform
my consciousness is infinite. The first years of monastic life its training: postulant training; novice training. They are meant to give a practical experience of what living as a monk means. When an aspirant is thinking of taking
this life as his own lifestyle so they have an opportunity to
come here and experience it. Divine Mother, give us food, health,
and prosperity for the body; efficiency for the mind; and above all Thy love
and wisdom for the soul. Aum. Peace. Amen. It is not like a theological
course in a college. Here it is fully experiential from
the very [first] day to the last day. Monks generally live
a rather structured life and here [in the postulant ashram],
life is very structured. There is a moment for everything. There are two periods
of individual meditations. Two to three periods of
group meditations during the day. There are periods
set aside for study, periods set aside for classes, and periods set aside for recreation,
sports, and of course, rest. And periods for fun, too—
we have fun activities periodically. Postulant life is just
the beginning. Then there will be
a few years as novice where the young monk
will learn more. I can remember when I was
making that decision to come in and it was a challenge
to make that final decision and take that step forward. I don’t know other
people’s experience but it just wasn’t like a clear 100% like I really knew exactly
what I wanted to do. So I had to take
a leap of faith I think, and muster up enough courage
to take that step and trust Master. How do you feel now? Are you still leaping or have you
landed one foot on the other side…? I feel once you settle into the life
and get a few years here, and the experience unfolds, it feels like your family,
it feels like home. When you are first applying,
it feels like a world away. I am trying to think
of applicants now. For me, it was like “gosh,
how would I get to that point to convince my family,
my friends, quit my job.” These are all big jumps to make. So I feel for people who are thinking
about the life, it’s not easy. In a sense, there’s like rings of
fire you have to jump through. Really just take little steps: going
to Hidden Valley was huge for me. Seeing other monks in action,
going to a conducted retreat, and seeing a monk there.
“Oh wow, this person is just normal.” The first time I went to
Hidden Valley for six months, I loved it; I loved the community. There were a lot of people
my age doing the same thing— I hadn’t had that in the world. I felt kind of like, in a way,
a loner in the world. I had friends but not people who
I could have that deeper friendship with. At Hidden Valley, I think
I found that in a large part and that was a big inspiration
for me to take the next step and apply to become a monk. I didn’t apply that time; I left for a while. And one day I remember riding my bike and all of a sudden, it just hit me: “You are missing the community. You had been so happy
at Hidden Valley and now you are back out
and doing the things you like, but you are missing
that spiritual community.” I didn’t fall off my bike
but it was like, “Wow! Okay, I have to go back
to Hidden Valley.” And then I did shortly after. It was like trusting that strong feeling. From there I lived there for about a year while I was applying to
come into the ashram. I’m still here. The monastic life is, in essence,
a journey within: an interior search for
one’s own divinity. And yet, it is not a withdrawal from life, but ironically, the means
to actually live life fully and give back to
the world and others, the best and highest
that we all aspire to and are capable of as
complete human beings. Yes, I would definitely say that if
someone is thinking about the monastic life, and whether it is
worth the effort or not, it has certainly been worth
the effort in my lifetime. It has completely changed
my state of consciousness. In fact, to be perfectly honest with you, I have to think sometimes
pretty hard to remember how I was when I first
came into the ashram. As we draw closer to God,
and we feel His presence, we feel His love, we feel
that inner peace and joy, we cannot but be a happier
person, a happier individual. And, that is what we are after. Well, I think I can honestly say
I am a very different person than 14 years ago when
I entered the ashram. I think in every way, physically,
mentally, spiritually, I have grown. Physically, I am healthier because
I eat better; I exercise regularly. Mentally, I have a better attitude, I feel. I am able to stay more calm,
and more contented, and more happy despite
outer conditions. I am less moody, and I am able to get along
better with people. And, spiritually also, I feel
I have progressed because there is a focused effort that
is happening on a daily basis in the ashram community
on an individual level and on a collective level. So, I feel that I am a new person.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes



  2. Thank you! Wonderful and very helpful introduction to the SRF monastic life. Only wish there was a Hidden Valley equivalent for women (and that I was 25 years younger ; .)). Jai Guru!

  3. Beautiful video about a beautiful life.
    All for the divine quest of expanding consciousness and "mind Awareness."
    This is a life of meaningful purpose using the wisdom and light of Kriya Yoga in daily life!

  4. Nice vídeo. "Monastic life style (in or out not an Ashram) is indeed wanting God first." Ashram life can give a good understanding of what that means. Off course the inner atitude is more important than outer life style. Marking God a priority does not necessarily requires being in a monastery; inner renunciation, detachment, and sincere effort is what matters according to the Guru Yogananda, but for those who need a more structured environment in order to progress spiritually, Ashram life is a good option.

  5. I see some known faces in the group. It is privilege to receive Guru's call to become a monk. Without His grace, it is not possible. May the beloved and compassionate Guru bestow ipon us His blessings and make us worthy to be a monk. Amen!

  6. Thank you so much, what a wonderful vibration, i felt so good when i visited Hidden Valley a couple of years ago-Jai Gurudeva

  7. The video brought a smile to my face. "In the mirror of Thy love, I have beheld the countenance of my love bearing Thy likeness."

  8. Just watching this video is very triggering to go in deep meditation , divine vibes are coming out of this audio visuals ,thanks ,namaste ,jay guru jay babaji

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