The Monk Forgotten
Burnaby, British Columbia
What happens to someone who leaves his monastic order and takes up civilian life again? Are all efforts of self-discipline gone in vain? This is like a question found in the Gita where the despaired Arjuna asks Krishna, "What happens to someone on the self-realization path who doesn't reach his zenith? Is his karma like that of a riven cloud, here today but dissolved tomorrow?"
I was probed by this question of the monk forgotten while walking a strenuous but brief walk. I had dropped in along with my male assistant, Nirguna, to see two god-sisters one of which was on the phone speaking to a very "needing" person overseas. The person was a man now well into his middle years who had been part of the mission but left for various reasons almost three decades ago. He had been "out of touch" with his spiritual peers for years and had settled back into his pre-monk lifestyle.
The phone was handed to me and instantaneously I felt like being a coach. I never met the caller before even though I had been in his turf (the UK) during his active years. He really did sound like a lost soul crying in the wilderness. I felt for him and at the same time wondered how Vancouver/Burnaby was the fortunate place to receive his call. He said, "I'm prehistoric so I don't do email." He implied that he wanted to talk to someone.
The question was posed, "What happens to those who fall off from the path?" And, like Krishna's answer in the Gita which is most redeeming and reassuring, it is answered like this, "Your efforts are never forgotten. Any steps taken on the righteous path protects you from the greatest difficulty. You are given another chance through rebirth in very conducive circumstances. You are definitely remembered and you continue to move in the directions you once started until you achieve success."
After the conversation with both god-sister, Padyavali and I, the caller felt much better. He seemed hopeful and he wanted to hear from us again. It is now our job to not forget him but to stay in touch. No one should ever feel forgotten.