Questions by various friends, and Answers by Swami Nirmalananda, abbot of Atma Jyoti Ashram
QUESTION: How does one know if one is meant to live a monastic life versus a householder's life? I have been going over this in my mind for some ten years now and I am still uncertain of my calling to one or the other. I have had many "worldly" experiences and none have proven to bring any fundamental
or lasting peace. The desire to enter monastic life has been a recurring one with me. I am tired of waffling about my decision between householder and monastic life. I feel like I need to commit one way or another and get on with doing the best I can in whichever capacity. Anything you might be able to say in regards to discerning if one has a monastic calling would be most appreciated and very helpful.
ANSWER: Since we are not external beings, the external mode of life is not "the thing." Rather, it is the interior development–sadhana–that matters.
Two people once asked Sri Ma Anandamayi if they should some day become monastics (they were married, but living a celibate life). Her reply was: "Those who do sadhana automatically become sadhus."
Once a young man came to Sri Ramana Maharshi and asked if he should become a monk. Immediately Sri Ramana responded: "No." Taken aback the young man protested: "But you did!" "Yes, but I did not need to ask anyone if I should," replied Ramana.
Please focus on your sadhana, making sure that it is going right. Then everything will unfold as it should. As Jesus assures us: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).
Nothing is more miserable than a monk without a genuine interior life–India is filled with them.