Meditation, Atheism, and Jedi Apprenticeships.

I was brought up Hindu, but as of now, I’m atheist. I’d like to think that I’m a practical person- anecdotes and dogma have no place in my life. I prefer to practice methods which have been tested and proven, so you can see why blue ten-headed gods might seem a bit far-fetched.

Back to Hinduism though. Our family has known a monk- you could call him our spiritual councilor- for over 50 years. When my grandfather first left India and moved to New York, this monk was there. He was there when my parents met, when they got married, and even when I came into the world. He’s seen 3 generations of my family grow up and get established.

At 90 years old, Swami Purnatmananda Maharaj still surprises me. His thinking is clear. His memory, sharp. He’s up at 4:30 in the morning and works all day, tends to the woes of all the people who come to him for advice, and he leads the daily prayers. Not only that, but he’s also a senior monk in his order- Bharat Seva Ashram Sanga, it’s called. This is an international charity with emphasis on helping humanity- not pushing religion. Their motto basically means “service before self.” So their agenda isn’t converting people- it’s helping the poor. As an organization, they are amazing, because monks don’t get paid. Every cent past maintaining the organization goes towards building hospitals, curing the sick. No one has a financial interest in the whole organization- and that’s really impressive-really rare. No western charity or church can claim that. Here in the US, pastors can be wealthy. Not so much with this organization…no one man benefits from the organization more than any other- and regardless of the fact that they are a religious organization, I like that 95% plus of the money donated goes directly to the people.

Anyways, I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Josh Waitzkin, and they were discussing meditation. So I took some notes and over this past weekend, I brought up meditating to this monk. He’s in Yorba Linda for now so I’m lucky to have access to him. He told me to come down for a week, and he’d teach me all the basics of controlling my mind and my emotions. Anger, fear, insecurity- all of it could be controlled. This is really appealing to me…I mean the guy is basically yoda, despite the obvious physical differences and lack of light saber/ levitation powers. But he knows the Jedi mind tricks- that much is clear. Imagine being able to remain perfectly calm while starting a new business. Or being able to feel fear, lean into it, and turn it into an asset. Imagine being able to suppress all of the “I’m not ___enough” comments in your head, or making all of the self limiting excuses go away.

I’m skeptical as always, but will put effort into this. I respect this man a lot- I’ve never met anyone as selfless, sharp, or alert as he is at 90. So I won’t be writing for a week or so. This is as close as I’ll ever get to a Jedi Apprenticeship, so I might as well take it.

see you in a week.