On October 22nd, 2016, I became a monk.
To understand why I made this choice. Let’s zoom out, get philosophical for a moment. After all, I’ve have always been inspired by large picture ideas. Let's start with some fundamental questions about this journey we make as humans. What is life’s purpose? When am I most joyful? Where am I most fulfilled? How can I make the biggest contribution? My answers to these questions over the past decade through conversation, reflection and intuitively in the silence of my inner knowing have led me to become initiated into the Order of Sai Maa Brahmacharya on October 22nd, 2016 at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan.
If you have never heard the word Brahmacharya before, you may be wondering what is a Brahmachari? What does that mean? Brahmacharya can be divided into two words, Brahma and Acharya.
Brahma means source, that creative principle that gives rise to the world, in some traditions called God. Brahma can be considered formless or form. Personally I relate to God as both. God in the formless for me is an all pervading presence most easily characterized by the word love. God as form shows up in many ways for me. My linage is one of the Guru Disciple relationship. Where the Guru (gu = darkness, ru = Light, Guru as one who brings us from darkness to light) is considered a manifest form of God.
By giving form to the formless I'm able to more easily form a relationship with Source, allowing the powerful force of emotion to inspire and deepen my devotion towards God. By creating my relationship with God in a more concrete way, I’m able to consciously nurture this relationship, gradually seeing God more and more within everyone..
Acharya means one who teaches by conduct, by example, one who embodies the teachings, one who is a child of. A child of Brahma. In my senior year of college I had a vivid dream. It was a vividly bright sunny day and I was in a field of grass surrounded by people. I felt joy and fulfillment bursting from every pore in my body as I spoke with and listen to those around me. In that dream, I was a monk. That image and that feeling stays with me today. Somewhere within I knew this was the path for me. Offing myself as a vehicle for that brilliant light to enter into and lighten life.
That is just a little bit about Brahmacharya. Another way to look at Brahmachari is simply an eastern name for monk. When many people think of monks they think of what a monk does not do, the rules or vows that a monk takes. Typical examples are no drugs or alcohol, no sex, no meat, etc... and yes I have said I will abstain from those things as part of my vows. And yet for me becoming a monk is less about what I'm saying no to and more about what I'm saying YES to. Yes to a life of service, yes to my Sadhana, my Spiritual practice, yes to creating community where we can Satsang, speak truth, speak vulnerably with each other, yes to loving unconditionally, yes to creating my life where every action, each moment is saturated, overflowing with joy. The no's are simply the bumpers in the bowling ally of life helping to ensure the success of what I have said YES to.
I discovered at a fairly young age when I travelled to Southeast Asia that wherever I went, my mind went as well. And that if I was unhappy and depressed on my college campus in Rochester, New York I was also be unhappy and depressed on a island beach in the Gulf of Thailand. My joy is not contingent on the world about me, it is actually within me and can be covered or unleashed by my inner state. For me, becoming Brahmachari is about living a life of unbridled joy, love, service and fulfillment. And when I reflect on my life and the commitment I've made, I feel an inner joy bubbling up knowing the future looks bright... very, very bright.
With love and gratitude,
Tyagananda Das Brahmachari
P.S. The meaning of my name
Tyaga = one who generously gives up everything for God
Ananda = Bliss
Das = servant of God
I am a blissful servant of God who gives up everything for God
P.S.S to learn more about the Order I belong to you visit http://www.sai-maa.com/osmb
Om Jai Jai Sai Maa
I honor the divine feminine within you, and within me. I honor the God within.
During my initiation Sai Maa also gave me the authorized shorten version of my monk name, Tyagabhai. Bhai means brother.