Contentment ever dwells in the heart of the wise one who lives on whatever happens to come to him, and who wanders about at pleasure, resting wherever he is when the sun sets. – Astavakra Samhita 18:85
What makes this blog unique?
One of the main pāramīs or virtues that householders can build within themselves is the giving of dana or donation, whether providing service or financial support to others. This blog and my travels through India and beyond will from this point forth be continually donation-based. Not only that, but half of all donations will be channeled to random strangers or causes that I encounter along the path. I will not actively seek them out, but will keep an eye out and will donate with discretion to those who truly are in need. Furthermore, I will be doing various volunteer service, whether on a small or big scale, as time goes by.
The part that makes this unique is that I will give up the karma that would normally be generated for myself and pass it on to the readers and supporters of this blog. Karma being simply defined as “what you sow, you eventually reap.” Through reader’s donations, I will be able to sow and the readers will in theory reap the benefits of my actions, since technically I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.
With the combination of daily optimism, stemming from spiritual and philosophical contemplation, with non-profit and non-expectation giving of work and aid to others, a reader may be surprised to notice a change within themselves, but this may not always be true. It is my aspiration that this will happen and it will be interesting to see the progress of what occurs as the days go by.
There are approximately 11 million people in the U.S. who work and live off of non-profit charity. According to a 2012 report by the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, nonprofit employment represents 10.1 percent of total employment in the United States in 2010. I don’t see a big difference between what I am doing compared to the rest of the non-profit sector. My method is extremely transparent and will be detailed down to every penny that is donated and used, whereas many times when people donate to large charities there is no telling where the money actually goes and into whose wallets.
I won’t beg for money or support, but if it is given from abroad or in person I will humbly accept it with gratitude and thanks for it comes from the creator through the giver. Every penny donated will go to the intended purposes of the blog, which will be to teach people how to travel materially and financially austerely and to openly donate to individuals and organizations who are in need along the way.
This blog will accept donations in many different ways. Soon we will be able to accept credit card, debit card, wire transfer and even Bitcoins. Perhaps, this may be the first time that a “sadhu” has accepted Bitcoins, but hey this is the 21st century.
It is all about generating the maximum amount of happiness. If it makes me happy and it makes them happy and it makes the readers happy then it is a win-win for all.
What is this blog for?
This blog is a platform for documenting the journey as well as releasing daily spontaneous explosions of consciousness that want to be expressed through various forms. Primarily with the mediums of writing, painting and drawing, music, photograph and video.
It will be a daily recording of my life living as a sadhu or at least my style of sadhuism; sort of like a modern-day version who can share his happiness and abilities with the world daily, rather than just those within his general proximity. I have no idea what the consciousness will want to express from day-to-day as I am constantly changing throughout my spiritual journey. I only have a general idea, but won’t try to control or guide what the mind decides to create each day.
According to various definitions online, a sadhu is a “wandering traveler, a holy man, an ascetic, a sage, a mendicant, and usually a Hindu.” I would say this definition is pretty precise, but I don’t consider myself to be Hindu, nor do I label myself as any specific religion, even though I am quite “religious”.
Once you label me you negate me. – Soren Kierkegaard
I love and cherish all the religions equally and have greatly benefited from the spiritual counterparts of each faith. If there was a perfect religion, we would already know about it. Surely it is not here… yet.
What will be some of the focuses?
I have been “backpacking” outside of the U.S. for 3 out of the past 5 years. There are many things that I have learned along the way that I would like to share with other fellow travelers. One being how to travel extremely cheap or even free across the world over the course of a long time period. Another is how to travel extremely minimally with few possessions, which tend to just cause worry and can hold us back from reaping the benefits that travel can truly offer.
If we travel or go “backpacking” and yet bring half the world in our backpack or suitcases then we won’t be able to break free from our “old lives” and desire to constantly acquire “new things”. If we limit our pack choice then there will be no room for adding possessions unless an exchange occurs. At first I traveled in the “pack rat” way and carried a huge 65 liter backpack along with a smaller backpack on my chest. I see this all the time in my travels and laugh thinking about when I used to do the same.
Slowly I have downgraded to where I now carry next to nothing and enjoy it tremendously. The picture at the top of the page shows the only things I will carry on my journey besides the clothes on my back. Traveling allows us the opportunity to do this as a sedentary “home life” tends to always end up with a gradual acquisition of “stuff” that is not used or needed. Perhaps, if one is considering taking a journey, this blog will help them to think about what they really need to bring before it starts.
Soon from now, a new leg of my journey will start in India and I will be traveling minimally and on a tight budget of $10 a day or $300 a month or lower. Every penny will be documented and shared with the reader. To me, living austerely is ultimately more rewarding than living lavishly, especially when traveling. I appreciate more what I do have and can do on a daily basis. I have lived and traveled in both extremes. As lavish as anyone I have ever met, but I have also traveled voluntarily without money.
Overall, I feel that low budget travel mixed with volunteer work is one of the most enjoyable ways to see the world, and most viable for long term. When bearing in mind the types of people encountered and unique experiences obtained, it outshines either lavish or extreme “freegan”-style austere travel. It’s the middle path, at least for me.
Hopefully I can show others a lifestyle that can be led if the correct steps are gradually taken. I have no bills to pay, no house to maintain, no car, no “job”, and no immediate family or friends who are continuously with me in my travels. As an “American sadhu”, I am my own guru. My own master. The only person who I would consider to have been my guru passed away in September of 2013, so I can now set my own discipline and rules of how to proceed on the spiritual path.
Most sadhus or yogis only practice or focus on a single form of yoga, but I combine all of them into my practice. Jnana (meditation), kriya (purification through pranayama and asanas), bhakti (devotional mantra chanting), and karma (selfless giving without expectation). The journey that I am embarking on will be an open book with no set storyline and no idea of an end. Overtime, I will explain in detail the various forms of yoga that I do, as well as teach various techniques of meditation for beginners and experienced meditators alike.
Throughout this trip, I will do my best to hold what is called “pancha sila” for the duration of one year at least. This can be translated as the five precepts of morality. What are they? The five are no lying, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no killing of any living beings (some would consider this to be vegetarian, as do I), and no intoxicants. Not such an easy task, but I will make a strong effort to follow it strictly.
Three of them are easy; I promise for the rest of my life I will never kill another living being, steal anything that is not given to me, or tell an intentional lie. But I cannot promise past this year that in the future I will not eat a piece of meat, drink a cold beer, smoke a rolled cigg, or make love to a beautiful woman. The key is not to find the high, it is learning to sustain it and sila is an important part of the foundation for this to occur.
I practice between 2-4 hours of meditation daily, depending on how busy I am during the day. Furthermore, I do around one hour of pranayama and yoga in the mornings, mostly pre-asanas combined with asanas. A spiritual practice doesn’t so much as make us “superhuman” as it just removes what was holding us back before bringing us back to our natural state of highly productive and creative potential.
What happens when one is living a strong moral life continuously purifying the spirit through yoga and meditation? One becomes “protected”. One becomes “guided”. One becomes “invulnerable”. Relatively bad things just don’t happen and relatively good things tend to happen more often. We will see if this holds true, but it has for the past two years since I’ve been living this type of life, off and on.
Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?
Morpheus: No, Neo. I am trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.
Before becoming “spiritual”, I used to get into trouble often in my travels. Bar fights, heated arguments and confrontations, animal attacks, and things being stolen or going missing. Now it is all good. Is this from clear thinking or “divine protection”? I don’t know but it makes me appreciate it and enjoy it more when I consider it to be the latter. When in this mode, one becomes fearless. The fear may arise, but one becomes immune to its effects and it passes away quickly. There is nothing inside of me that would hurt a fly, nor anything that wants anything at all, especially fame or fortune. This is the secret recipe.
If we have full trust and full faith in the divine. If we are confident that the best happens for us always, we will never fear. – Swami Brahmdev
It makes for a very fun way of life and I thought now would be a good time to start sharing it with others besides myself and friends and family on Facebook, but in a linear progressive way telling an ongoing story to keep track of. The past two years for me has been a giant swing in the direction of the “spiritual life”, whereas the previous 29 years were focused on building the “materially worldly life”. Eventually, I have realized that they are completely equal in importance in all regards. This blog and project are my attempt to combine the two into one equal path.
I plan on writing quite a bit over the course of the next year. Many times the words come when I am in different spiritual frames of mind, like channeling the “inner voice”, although I have never been taught how to technically channel. I enjoy writing my own philosophical and spiritual contemplations for others to think about and respond to. Perhaps I may trigger something in a reader who then responds and triggers something in me. That’s the way innovation and inspiration works. Most of the time, I won’t do substantial proof-reading and editing and will post what I write in my journal straight onto the blog, so the messages will be more “from the spirit.”
I enjoy theorizing new possibilities for the future because an “idea”, which must be created individually, must precede a collective “action” before it takes place. Once the idea is there, it becomes a possibility for us collectively to achieve. Every single day there will be fresh content, hopefully heartfelt true stories and thought-provoking ideas that have never been read or heard before. I would like to test the reverberations of a single blog to other parts of the web and I’d like to see how and where this info flows.
Since I used to write screenplays, I am going to be doing an experiment and write a continuous story that happens to me on the journey, one page a day, in all styles, ranging from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person. Sometimes the stories will be dramatic, action-oriented, comedic, or whatever the style of the moment was like. Sometimes there will be hidden meanings and metaphors that everyone may not initially understand. Some may like it and some may not. The main thing always is I have no idea what my mind will come up with each day as it is changing constantly from travel and spiritual practice.
They say do and write what you love. I love traveling, writing, spirituality, and helping others out so this is a combination of those four. The best kind of story is one that is presently being created, a la the wonderful invention of internet blogging. If God knows a story is in the process of being made, does the story change into something more interesting, more special? We will see…
I will attempt to paint or draw a new piece of art every day or every other day of various scenes that I see along the way. Either spiritual or historic places, or sadhus that I meet randomly on the street. Whatever strikes my fancy I will try to paint it and share it with the readers. At the end of the year, I will hold a raffle for all the readers to win the books that were used to paint in. Perhaps ten readers will receive a book from a specific month of painting and drawing. Garden of Dreams sketch. No eraser, no sharpener. 4/15/15
To many this lifestyle may seem a bit extreme or unnatural, but to me it is not. At one time yes, but it is just the natural progression of the path that I have been on. Why do I do this? I do this because it’s the most fun thing I can think of to do. Loving people. Loving nature. Loving the creation that was made for us to love! Yes, this is one way to walk the spiritual path. Not having fun is another, but I choose this way.
As humans we tend to sway too far towards the material life or too far towards the spiritual life. When, as a society, we can fully merge the two and utilize the gifts we receive spiritually for worldly aims, we will have reached a plan long in the making…
When do I start and where am I going?
Around April 22nd, 2015, I will start Day 1 of this one year blogging journey in the great city of Varanasi, India, land of the sadhus. I only know where I will be for the next 3 months after that, but the next destination will be up for voting from readers as the date draws closer. Furthermore, there will be voting on which cities to go to and which projects to work on as time goes by.
When one is a sadhu or spiritually inclined, one opens up to a new world of possibilities. Things happen to or for you that could not be planned. Since India is pretty much the craziest and most unpredictable place in the world, anything could happen. Since I am on a tight budget I will stay with friends when possible and will serve two or three vipassana courses over the time period. After India, there are many countries around the area that I am interested in continuing this blog at.
Where will all this lead?
Who knows! I may have an idea, but to me there is no “end” to this project and so will continuously evolve as time goes by. I don’t make plans, I make options. Plans always fall through, but options are just there to be taken or left aside until another time.
I am just attempting to show a lifestyle that can led by others. Perhaps, this idea will catch on and other people will follow suit. Soon we may have This English Sadhu, This Jamaican Sadhu, This Japanese Sadhu, etc. It is a new idea that can be replicated with ease if the proper example is set for all to see.
At the end of one year, I will publish all of the continuous “story pages” into a single but loose narrative book. As an aspiring book author, this would be a step in the right direction to better learn the publishing business.
I am not trying to be a sadhu… I am a sadhu, just in my own way.
Even if there are no readers or supporters of this blog, I promise I will take great joy in this journey and sharing everything along the way. I believe new spiritual ideas or values that come from individual consciousness automatically spread through the collective consciousness overtime whether they are read or not. Perhaps if ideas are read and disseminated they spread faster, but either way once they come they are here to stay or grow.
If at anytime this blog seems to be egotistical then I must say it is not my intention. Perhaps it is the last hurrah of a once great but dying ego building the foundation for a future egoless entity to write what an egoless entity writes about. We will just have to see. There is a small feeling that if the egoless state does permanently arise, there will be no more desire to write and share these ideas or messages, so I’m “getting them out there” now, not worrying about what may or may not happen in the future.
No matter what, I will always be myself throughout the blog even if that self is constantly changing. The measure of a person should not be judged on success financially or materially. It should be judged on how happy they are, how happy they make others, and how they show others how to be happy themselves. This new project perfectly encapsulates this idea of success and if this is true, I aspire to be the most “successful” person ever. Inshallah.
Thank you for being observers. Thank you to anyone who supports the blog by making comments or spreading it to others. And to those who give donations or dana, thank you for being willing participants in molding the story that is my life.
Perhaps there are many American sadhus, perhaps there are not. This is just the story of this one.
I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through. Listen to this music. – Hafiz
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. – Matthew 6:33