Title: IF TRUTH BE TOLD: A MONK’S MEMOIR
Author: Om Swami
Publisher: Harper Element
Author: Om Swami
Publisher: Harper Element
If Truth be Told is an extraordinary memoir of the making of a spiritual life in today’s demanding and baffling times. The book unravels the true life story of Om Swami and his journey to becoming a monk. In the 1990s, an eighteen-year-old heads to Australia to realize his worldly dreams. With little money or support, he strives to make ends meet. Two years later, he’s earning an annual income of $250,000. By the age of twenty-six, Om Swami’s a multi-millionaire. But, the pull of the ochre robe is such that the boy whose hair Shiva had stroked in a dream and who at times could peer into the future of a complete stranger, gives up not just a multimillion dollar business, but every pleasure ever known to him. He renounces, in search of God.
Overnight, from a CEO Swami becomes an ordained monk in India. Reality hits him hard when he faces starvation and neglect at his guru's ashram. A resolute Swami leaves for the Himalayas to burn his mind and body in the fire of intense meditation, to manifest God or die trying. A chance meeting with a mystical female tantric reinforces his faith in the existence of the divine. In the snowy and secluded reaches of the Himalayas, in terrifying silence and solitude, cut off from the world, Swami spends thirteen months in extraordinary, intense meditation. There in the woods, beyond the incessant chatter of the conscious mind, diving in the quietude of supernal bliss, the unimaginable happens: looking down at him are the effulgent eyes of the Empress. The Divine Mother.
If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir, is a true and inspiring story of success, renunciation and self-realization. It will light up your path wherever you are on your life’s journey.
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My frustration began to give way to despair. If God existed, why didn’t he appear before me? If the scriptures were right, if tantra had any substance, why wasn’t I getting the desired outcome? Where was I failing? Though powerful dreams and visions continued and even guided me along my path, I wasn’t convinced. I wanted a physical manifestation, real proof that could stand my test of truth.
Gradually, it dawned upon me that I had embarked on a lonely and difficult journey towards self-realization. It would require great tenacity, discipline and time if I wanted to succeed. No matter what spiritual practice I followed, how I did it or how long I did it, there were no guarantees for me.
Moving from ephemeral pleasures to a state of constant joy, rising from worldly emotions and being able to live in a state of eternal bliss was going to be a very personal affair. I was my best friend and worst enemy on this journey. I had to create my own way, for the weeds of time had long covered the divine path trod by the ancient sages.
We are a rather strange species, if you ask me. Strange because, almost always, we want something different from what we already have. Our capacity to be selfless is as immense as our potential to be selfish. I can vouch for this because I saw myself as a kind person, and didn’t think I had it in me to cause pain to my loved ones. Yet, 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 the wealth I owned. Giving my family no warning, no indication even, I simply walked away although I knew full well 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, because it was considered ‘normal’. Who decided what was normal anyway? If I had to live my life by the rules and conditions set by others, 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 were lifeless things at the end of the day. They had always had been. I wasn’t born with these possessions and they certainly wouldn’t go with me after I died. What was the struggle of life about then? And, whatever it was about, was it worth it?
Countless times, I had given myself the consolation that I would find the purpose of my life one day, but this consolation was wearing thin while my questions beat like muffled drums in my head. With each strike, the sound was getting louder, getting closer. It began to drown out all the music around me: the melodious songs of the birds, the pouring rain, the compassionate words of my mother and the caring ones of my father; nothing was audible anymore, let alone joyous.
Leaving behind everything I had worked towards, razing all that I had built and abandoning everyone I had ever known, I felt indifferent towards my own past. An uninterested stranger. 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.
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 my email account, destroyed the SIM card, gave away my phone and broke up with my material life of three decades. Casting away the labels that defined me—son, brother, friend, CEO, MBA, colleague—I walked out of the store 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.
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About the Author
Om Swami is a monk who lives in a remote place in the Himalayan foothills. He has a bachelor degree in business and an MBA from Sydney, Australia. Swami served in executive roles in large corporations around the world. He founded and led a profitable software company with offices in San Francisco, New York, Toronto, London, Sydney and India.
Om Swami completely renounced his business interests to pursue a more spiritual life. He is the bestselling author of Kundalini: An Untold Story, A Fistful of Love and If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir.
His blog omswami.com is read by millions all over the world.
You can visit his website at Omswami.com.