Usually the idea of a monk conveys the image of a person meditating in a cross-legged position in the middle of a forest or in an isolated monastery up by the mountain peaks. The monastery I live in is in the New York City’s East Village, bordered by nightclubs, bars, tattoo shops, and endless traffic. Of all places, how did I end up here?
After growing up in LA for 21 years of my life, my parent’s multi-million dollar business burnt down and we lost our entire fortune. The business, the house, our savings, and all three cars – the Benz, Lincoln, and my brand new Accord – were gone in the blink of an eye. To say the least, I was worried and afraid about what my future would hold.
After abruptly leaving college, I ended up moving to Bulgaria, a small country in Eastern Europe that had recently come out of the communist bloc. Completely separated from my society, culture, and country, I felt lost and alone. During this critical time, I explored the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita which taught me about the ideas of reincarnation, the soul, karma, consciousness, the universe, and god. These teachings provided me stability while I was on the unpredictable roller coaster of life.
In Urban Monk: Exploring Karma, Consciousness, and the Divine, I explain the journey that began in Los Angeles, continued to Bulgaria, then to working in finance in New Jersey, and culminating at a monastery in New York. I share the essential wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita that inspired me to lead a balanced life and nourish the restless mind. And I share with you, the reader, the spiritual teachings that I successfully communicate to professionals and students as a lecturer and Hindu Chaplain at Columbia University, New York University, and Union Theological Seminary.