I have a friend whose life at least on the surface was one to be envied! He had a big apartment, great advertising job with plenty of possibilities for advancement, nice car, interesting collections of minerals, architectural models and paintings. He called me up one day and said, “Well, tomorrow I’m off to India!” “Oh, for how long?” I replied. There was an odd silence of a few seconds and then he said, “Forever!” “WHAT?!” I blurted out! “What’s this about?” He said, “Well, all I know is that this isn’t enough even though I have no idea what I’m looking for!” I countered, “But why India?” to which he replied, “I’m going to find a Guru and then maybe figure it all out.” The next day he left and 25 years later has not returned!
While this might all sound a bit insane Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living” and so my friend was simply setting out on his “examination!” In a way I do understand it! I have often been asked why I entered the monastery at the young age of 22 and the honest answer is that at the time I had no idea! I simply heard and felt something calling to me from within the monastic life and I knew I could not walk away from it. I did not want to reach the age of 85 and have cause to wonder, “What if I had done it?” I needed to know!
There are times in our lives when something calls and at such times fear can mutter in our heart, “What if I fail, what if this is foolish, what if, what if.” But “what if” is a double-edged sword capable of bringing pleasure as well as pain! “What if following this enables me to figure it out? What if my heart holds a treasure for me I can only come to possess by searching for it?” And now at 64 that is exactly how it has turned out for me! I am not perfect but then again I was not seeking perfection! I was seeking to understand myself, to understand what I can about God, to find a way to live a better life by at least becoming a better person. I would do it all over again and in fact I DO it all over again every day! Do YOU need to know? Is something calling to you? What stops you from following it?