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You are listening to a very special episode of On Purpose.
Today you're getting exclusive access to the audio book Introduction of my brand new book, Think Like a Monk. Now, I am so excited to share this with you because the book, Because of You has been made a number one international bestseller in its first week. We've been top of the charts in India, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, thanks to each and every one of you that have already got a copy of the book. Now, if you're not feeling like you're missing out because you don't have it yet, you can go over to think like a monk book dotcom and order it right now.
And if you've already been reading it or read the book, please, please, please go and leave a review, because I can't wait to see what you think about it. Coming to see and read your reviews. And I'll be sharing a few of them on the podcast as well. So go ahead. Listen to the introduction of the audio book.
I hope you enjoy this. If you want a new idea, read an old book attributed to Ivan Pavlov, among others. When I was 18 years old in my first year of college at Cass Business School in London, one of my friends asked me to go with him to hear a monk give a talk. I resisted. Why would I want to go here? Some monk I often went to see CEOs, celebrities and other successful people lecturer on campus.
But I had zero interest in a monk. I preferred to hear speakers who'd actually accomplish things in life. My friend persisted and I finally said, as long as we go to a bar afterwards, I'm in. Falling in Love is an expression used almost exclusively to describe romantic relationships. But that night, as I listened to the monk talk about his experience, I fell in love. The figure on stage was a thirtysomething Indian man. His head was shaved and he wore a saffron robe.
He was intelligent, eloquent and charismatic. He spoke about the principle of selfless sacrifice. When he said that we should plant trees under whose shade we do not plan to sit. I felt an unfamiliar thrill run through my body. I was especially impressed when I found out that he'd been a student, IIT Bombay, which is the MIT of India and like MIT, nearly impossible to get into. He traded that opportunity to become a monk, walking away from everything that my friends and I were chasing.
Either he was crazy or he was on to something. My whole life, I've been fascinated by people who'd gone from nothing to something rags to riches stories. Now, for the first time, I was in the presence of someone who deliberately done the opposite. He'd given up the life the world had told me we should all want. But instead of being an embittered failure, he appeared joyous, confident and at peace. In fact, he seemed happier than anyone I'd ever met at the age of 18, I encountered a lot of people who were rich.
I'd listen to a lot of people who were famous, strong, good looking or all three. But I don't think I'd met anyone who was truly happy. Afterward, I pushed my way through the crowds to tell him how amazing he was and how much he inspired me. How can I spend more time with you? I heard myself asking. I felt the urge to be around people who had the values I wanted, not the things I wanted. The monk told me that he was traveling and speaking in the UK all that week and I was welcome to come to the rest of his events.
And so I did. My first impression of the monk whose name was Gongadze, was that he was doing something right, and later I would discover that science backs that up. In 2002, a Tibetan monk named Jonge Minga Rinpoche traveled from an area just outside Kathmandu, Nepal, to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, so that researchers could watch his brain activity. While he meditated, the scientists covered the monk's head with a shower cap like device and EEG.
They had more than 250 tiny wires sticking out of it, each with a sensor that a lab tech attached to his scalp. At the time of the study, the monk had accumulated sixty two thousand hours of lifetime meditation practice as a team of scientists, some of them seasoned meditators themselves. Watched from a control room, the monk began the meditation protocol the researchers had designed, alternating between one minute of meditating on compassion and a 30 second rest period. He quickly cycled through this pattern four times in a row, cued by a translator.
The researchers watched in awe at almost the exact moment the monk began his meditation. The EEG registered a sudden and massive spike in activity. The scientists assumed that with such a large quick bump, the monk must have changed positions or otherwise moved. Yet to the observing eye, he remained perfectly still. What was remarkable was not just the consistency of the monk's brain activity turning off and on repeatedly from activity to rest period, but also the fact that he needed no warm up period.
If you're a meditator or at least tried to calm your brain, you know that typically it takes some time to quiet the parade of distracting towards the marches. Through your mind, Rimpoche seem to need no such transition period. Indeed, he seemed to be able to come in and out of a powerful, meditative state as easily as flipping a switch. More than ten years after these initial studies, scans of the 41 year old monks brain showed fewer signs of aging than his peers.
The researchers said he had the brain of someone ten years younger. Researchers who scanned Buddhist monk Matthieu Records brain subsequently labeled him the world's happiest man after they found the highest level of gamma waves. Those associated with attention, memory, learning and happiness ever recorded by science. One month is off. The charts may seem like an anomaly. A record isn't alone. Twenty one other monks who had their brain scan during a variety of meditation practices also showed gamma wave levels that spiked higher and lasted longer, even during sleep, than non meditators.
Why should we think like monks? If you wanted to know how to dominate the basketball court, you might turn to Michael Jordan. If you wanted to innovate, you might investigate Elon Musk. You might study beyond say to learn how to perform if you want to train your mind to find peace, calm and purpose amongst the experts. Brother David Stindl. Ross, a Benedictine monk who co-founded Gratefulness Dog, writes A lay person who is consciously aiming to be continuously alive in the now is among monks can withstand temptations, refrained from criticizing deal with pain and anxiety, quired the ego and build lives that brim with purpose and meaning.
Why shouldn't we learn from the calmest, happiest, most purposeful people on Earth? Maybe you're thinking it's easy for monks to be calm, serene and relaxed, they're hidden away in tranquil settings where they don't have to deal with jobs and romantic partners and, well, rush hour traffic. Maybe you're wondering how could thinking like a monk help me here in the modern world? First of all, monks weren't born monks, the people from all sorts of backgrounds who've chosen to transform themselves.
Matthieu Ricard, the world's happiest man, was a biologist in his former life and he became co-founder of the meditation app Headspace, trying to be in the circus. I know monks who are in finance and in rock bands. They grew up in schools, towns and cities just like you. You don't need to light candles in your home, walk around barefoot or post photos of yourself doing tree pose on a mountaintop. Becoming a monk is a mindset that anyone can adopt.
Like most monks today, I didn't grow up in an ashram. I spent most of my childhood doing ironmonger like things until the age of 14. I was an obedient kid. I grew up in North London with my parents and my youngest sister. I'm from a middle class Indian family, like a lot of parents. Mine were committed to my education and to giving me a shot at a good future. I stayed out of trouble, did well in school and tried my best to make everybody happy.
But when I started secondary school, I took a left turn. I'd been heavy as a child and bullied for it. And now I lost that weight and began playing soccer and rugby. I turned to subjects that traditional Indian parents don't generally favour, like art, design and philosophy. All this would have been fine, but I also started mixing with the wrong crowd. I became involved in a bunch of bad stuff, experimenting with drugs, fighting, drinking too much.
It did not go well in high school. I was suspended three times. Finally, the school asked me to leave. I'll change. I promised if you let me stay, I'll change the school, let me stay. And I cleaned up my act. Finally, in college, I started to notice the value of hard work, sacrifice, discipline, persistence in pursuit of one's goals. The problem was that at the time I didn't have any goals apart from getting a good job, getting married one day, maybe having a family the usual.
I suspected there was something deeper that I didn't know what it was. By the time Gongadze came to speak at my school, I was primed to explore new ideas, a new model of living, a path that veered from the one everyone, including myself, assumed I would take. I wanted to grow as a person. I didn't want to know humility or compassion and empathy only as abstract concepts. I wanted to live them. I didn't want discipling character and integrity to just be things I read about.
I wanted to live them. Learning in itself is probably the most important thing you can do with your time, even though we know this, we often put it off once we stop school before you know it. This year will be over. Have you asked yourself, what have you learned and what new knowledge have you applied? That alone is probably the best tool to reflect and correct your priorities. How boring is it when someone talks about the same thing over and over?
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He is one of my favorite quotes from James Baldwin. You write, In order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. I resonate deeply with this quote because there is simply no way to measure the effects literature has had on human nature. If you want to alter the way you see a world change, how you show up in it and just overall become a more effective human being.
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For the next four years, I juggled two worlds going from bars and steak houses to meditation and sleeping on the floor in London, I studied management with an emphasis on behavioral science and interned at a large consulting firm and spent time with my friends and family. And at an ashram in Mumbai, I read and studied ancient texts, spending most of my Christmas and summer holidays living with monks. My values gradually shifted. I found myself wanting to be around monks.
In fact, I wanted to immerse myself in the monk mindset. More and more, the work I was doing in the corporate world seemed to lack meaning, what was the point if it had no positive impact on anyone? When I graduated from college. I traded my suits for robes and joined the ashram where we slept on the floor and lived out of gym lockers. I lived and traveled across India, the UK and Europe. I meditated for hours every day and studied ancient scriptures, had the opportunity to serve with my fellow monks, helping with the ongoing work of transforming an ashram in a village outside Mumbai into an eco friendly spiritual retreat, the Govardhan ecovillage and volunteering with a food program that distributes over a million meals a day.
A Namrata. If I can learn to think like a monk, anyone can. The Hindu monks I studied with use the Vedas as their foundational texts. The title is from the Sanskrit word Vayda, meaning knowledge. Sanskrit is an ancient language that's the precursor of most of the languages spoken in South Asia today. You could argue that philosophy began with this ancient collection of scriptures which originated in the area that now covers parts of Pakistan and northwest India. At least 3000 years ago, they formed the basis of Hinduism.
Like Homer's epic poems, the Vedas were first transmitted orally, then eventually written down. But because of the fragility of the materials, palm leaves and birch bark, most of the surviving documents we have are at most a few hundred years old. The Vedas include hymns, historical stories, poems, prayers, chants, ceremonial rituals and advice for daily life in my life. And in this book I frequently refer to the bulgogi to, which means Song of God.
This is loosely based on the Upanishads writings. From around 800 to 400 BCE, the bulgogi is considered a kind of universal and timeless life manuell. The tale is told about a monk or meant for a spiritual context. It's spoken to a married man who happens to be a talented Osia. It wasn't intended to apply only to one religion or region. It's for all humanity. Eknath insurance spiritual author and professor who has translated many of India's sacred texts, including the bulgogi, to called it India's most important gift to the world.
In his 1845 journal, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, I owed my friend and I owed a magnificent day to the budget Geita. It was the first of books. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence, which in an other age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us. It said that there have been more commentaries written about the Geita than any other scripture in this book.
One of my goals is to help you connect with its timeless wisdom along other ancient teachings that were the basis of my education as a monk and that have significant relevance to the challenges we all face today. What struck me most when I studied philosophy is that in the last three thousand years, humans haven't really changed. Sure, we're taller and on average we live longer. But I was surprised and impressed to find that the Hmong teachings talk about forgiveness, energy intentions, living with purpose and other topics in ways that are as resonant today as they must have been when they were written.
Even more impressively, Monck wisdom can largely be supported by science, as we'll see throughout this book, for millennia, monks have believed that meditation and mindfulness are beneficial. That gratitude is good for you. That service makes you happier and more that you will learn in this book. They developed practices around these ideas long before modern science could show or validate them. Albert Einstein said, if you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well enough, when I saw how relevant the lessons I was learning were to the modern world, I wanted to dive deeper into them so that I could share them with other people.
Three years after I moved to Mumbai, my teacher Gangadhar told me he believed I would be of greater value and service if I left the ashram and shared what I learned with the world. My three years as a monk were like a school of life. It was hard to become a monk and even harder to leave. But applying the wisdom to life outside the ashram, the hardest part felt like the final exam. Every day I'm finding that the monk mindset works, that ancient wisdom is shockingly relevant today.
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These days, I still consider myself a monk, though I usually refer to myself as a former monk. Since I'm married and monks aren't permitted to marry, I live in Los Angeles, which people tell me is one of the world capitals of materialism, facade, fantasy and overall dodginess. But we live in a place that's already enlightened now in the world. And in this book, I share my takeaways from the life I've lived and what I've learned. This book is completely non-sectarian.
It's not some sneaky conversion strategy, I swear. I can also promise that if you engage with and practice the material I present, you will find real meaning, passion and purpose in your life. Never before have so many people been so dissatisfied or so preoccupied with chasing happiness. Our culture, media feed us images and concepts about who and what we should be while holding up models of accomplishment and success, fame, money, glamour, sex. In the end, none of these things can satisfy us who simply seek more and more a circuit that leads to frustration, disillusion, dissatisfaction, unhappiness and exhaustion.
I like to draw a contrast between the monk mindset and what is often referred to as the monkey mind, our minds can either elevate us or pull us down. Today, we all struggle with overthinking procrastination and anxiety. As a result of indulging the monkey mind, the monkey mind switches aimlessly from thought to thought, challenge to challenge without really solving anything. But we can elevate the monk mindset by digging down to the root of what we want and creating actionable steps for growth.
The monk mindset lifts us out of confusion and distraction and helps us find clarity, meaning and direction. The monkey mind is overwhelmed by multiple branches. The monk mind focused on the root of the issue the monkey mind coasts. In the passenger seat, the monk mind lives intentionally and consciously. The monkey mind complains, compares and criticizes. The monk mind is compassionate, caring, collaborative, the monkey mind over things and procrastinates. The monk mind analyzes and articulates.
The monkey mind is distracted by small things. The monk mind is disciplined. The monkey mind is focused on short term gratification. The monk mind is focused on long term gain. The monkey mind is demanding and entitled The Monkey Mind, enthusiastic, determined, patient, the monkey mind changes on a whim. The monkey mind commits to a mission, vision or goal. The monkey mind amplifies negatives and fears. The monkey mind works on breaking down negatives and fears the monkey mind is self-centred and obsessed.
The monkey mind focuses on self care for service. The monkey mind likes to think it can multitask, the monkey mind focuses on single tasking. The monkey mind is controlled by anger, worry and fear, the monkey mind controls and engages energy wisely. The monkey mind does whatever feels good. The monkey mind seeks self-control and mastery. The monkey mind looks for pleasure. The monkey mind looks for meaning, the monkey mind looks for temporary fixes, the monkey mind looks for genuine solutions.
Thinking like a monkey posits another way of viewing and approaching life, a way of rebellion, detachment, rediscovery, purpose, focus, discipline and service. The goal of monkey thinking is a life free of ego and the last anxiety, anger, bitterness, baggage. To my mind, adopting the mindset isn't just possible. It's necessary. We have no other choice. We need to find calm, stillness and peace. I vividly remember my first day of school.
I just shaved my head, but I wasn't wearing robes yet and I still look like I was from London. I noticed a child monk. He can't have been more than 10 years old, teaching a group of five year olds. He had a great aura about him, the poise and confidence of an adult. What are you doing, I asked, we just talk there first class ever, he said, then asked me, what did you learn in your first day of school?
I started to learn the alphabet numbers. What did they learn? The first thing we teach them is how to breathe. Why, I asked. Because the only thing that stays with you from the moment you're born until the moment you die is your breath. All your friends, your family, the country you live in, all of that can change the one thing that stays with you is your breath. This 10 year old monk added, When you get stressed, what changes your breath when you get angry?
What changes your breath? We experience every emotion with the change of the breath. When you learn to navigate and manage your breath, you can navigate any situation in life. Already, I was being told the most important lesson to focus on the root of things, not the leaf of the tree or symptoms of the problem. And I was learning through direct observation that anybody can be a monk even if there are only five or 10 years old. When we're born, the first thing we must do is breathe, but just as life gets more complicated for that newborn baby, sitting still and breathing can be very challenging.
What I hope to do in this book is to show you the monk way we go to the root of things, go deep into self-examination. It is only through this curiosity taught effort and revelation that we find our way to peace, calm and purpose using the wisdom I was given by my teachers in the ashram. I hope to guide you there. Throughout this audio book, I will walk you through three stages of adapting to the monk mindset. First, we will let go stripping ourselves from the external influences, internal obstacles and fears that hold us back.
You can think of this as a cleansing that will make space for growth. Second, we will grow. I will help you reshape your life so that you can make decisions with intention, purpose and confidence. Finally, we will give looking to the world beyond ourselves, expanding and sharing our sense of gratitude and deepening our relationships. We will share our gifts and love with others and discover the true joy and surprising benefits of service. Along the way, I will introduce you to three very different types of meditation that I recommend, including in your practice breastwork, visualization and sound.
All three have benefits, but the simplest way to differentiate them is to know that you do breath work for the physical benefits, to find stillness and balance, to calm yourself visualisation, for the psychological benefits, to heal the past and prepare for the future. And chanting for the psychic benefits to connect with your deepest self and the universe for real purification. You don't have to meditate to benefit from this audio book, but if you do, the tools I give you will refine your practice.
I would go so far as to say that this entire book is a meditation, a reflection on our beliefs and values and intentions, how we see ourselves, how we make decisions, how to train our minds and our ways of choosing and interacting with people. Achieving such a deep self-awareness is the purpose and reward of meditation. How would a monk think about this? I may not be a question you ask yourself right now probably isn't close at all, but it will be by the end of this audio book.
Thank you so much for listening to the introduction of my first ever book. Think like a Monk. Head over to think like a monk book. Dotcom, if you'd like to grab a hardback Kindle or the audio version of the book that's available right now. And thank you so much for being a part of the on purpose community. If you haven't left to review for the book or the podcast, please go ahead and do it means the world to me.
Thank you so much.