We are a rather strange species, if you ask me. Almost always, we want something different or more than what we already have. Strange because our capacity to be selfless is as immense as our potential to be selfish. I can vouch for it because I saw myself as a kind person, and didn’t think I had it in me to cause pain to my loved ones. But when propelled by my desire, I inflicted it upon them effortlessly.
One morning, I got up, got ready, went to work and did not go back home in the evening. Instead, I boarded a train to take me away from all my certainties, from the people I loved and from the wealth I owned. Giving my family no warning, no indication, I simply walked away, although I well knew it would be a point of no return.
It’s not that I didn’t think about their feelings. I did, but chose to ignore how they might have felt because I couldn’t postpone my inner calling any further. I no longer wanted to get up every morning, work the entire day, come home in the evening, eat my dinner and go to sleep just because everyone else was doing it, just because it was considered ‘normal’. Who dictated what was normal anyway? If I had to live my life by the rules and conditions set by others then what was the goal of my life, what was my individual purpose – if there was any?
Before me lay the material wealth I had earned painstakingly over the last decade. But cars, properties and a bank balance, however decent, were lifeless things, they always had been. I wasn’t born with these possessions and they certainly wouldn’t go with me after I died. So, what was the struggle of life about? And whatever it was about, was it worth it?
Countless times I had consoled myself that one day I would find the answers, but this consolation was wearing thin now, while my questions were beating like muffled drums in my head. With each strike, the sound was getting louder, getting closer. And, it drowned every other voice around me: the melodious songs of the birds, the pouring of rain, the compassionate words of my mother, the caring ones of my father; nothing was audible anymore, let alone joyous.
Just as the advancing dawn erases the existence of the night, my departure from the material world wiped away my life as I had known it. Leaving behind everything I had worked towards, razing all that I had ever built and abandoning everyone I had ever known, I felt indifferent towards my own past. An uninterested stranger.
From an internet cafe, I sent emails to my family and close friends, saying I was going away and didn’t know if and when I would return. No emotions, no sentiments tugged at my heart when I deleted the email account, destroyed my SIM card, gave away the phone and broke up with my material life of three decades. Casting away the labels that once defined me — son, brother, friend, CEO, MBA, colleague — I walked out of the shop and into a new skin.
This new existence was utter nakedness, no, not in physical terms, but in being nothing, having nothing, not even an identity or a name — the life of a monk. It was only in this state of emptiness, as it were, that I could be filled by what I sought most desperately: a true inner life.
Above is the prologue from my upcoming memoir slated to be released next month (November 2014) by Harper Collins India.
Currently, the print book is available for sale in the Indian subcontinent only. Soon, in a couple of months, it’ll be available as an e-book on amazon.com as well for readers in remaining parts of the world.
For a limited time, it’s being offered at 25% discount on Flipkart. I would love it if you care to buy a copy, and even more importantly, post an honest review on Flipkart and Amazon after you’ve read the book.
In December 2014, as part of my book tour, I’ll be visiting the following cities:
Delhi: Official book launch on Thursday, 11 Dec @ India International Centre. Chennai: Book signing on Saturday, 13 Dec @ Tattvaloka Auditorium. Bangalore: Book signing on Thursday, 18 Dec @ Unnati Centre. Mumbai: Book signing on Saturday, 20 Dec @ Rudraksha Centre.
You are welcome to see me in person there, hear me talk about my journey and get a signed copy of the memoir. Venue and other details can be found in the events section on this blog. Stay tuned with us on Facebook where further announcements will be made and meanwhile, you can order your copy here.