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What Can A Monk Teach Us About Romantic Love?

Early this year, teacher Prem Sadasivananda wrote his first book Open Your Heart To Love. YogaCity NYC’s Publisher Brette Popper wondered what a man who spent 25 years as a monk in the Sivananda organization studying Vedantic Philosophy, Hindu Scripture and Sanskrit actually knew about love. Their discussion follows.

Brette Popper: Why did you write this?

Prem Sadasivananda: All my life I felt a need to share the inspirational thoughts I receive from others. Apart from doing that in teaching, I wanted these thoughts to be embodied in a book form which people could refer to in order to perhaps deepen their understanding of love – from the spiritual point of view.

BP: How does a monk know so much about romantic love and the difference between romantic love and an all-pervasive love?

PS: In fact, this is not difficult since a monk’s or nun’s life is meant to be one of service. During the process of service one can clearly observe the thought processes that go into forming attachments.

Even in a monk’s life attachments continue to exist but are more thinned out and often subtle. Naturally even to become a monk one must have gone through the evolutionary process of love, starting from what we may call ordinary love (love mixed with attachment) and often focused on and limited to a particular being, a form or a group of people, a family and even a country; ending with a greater idea and perception of love such as humanity, creation and God.

Monks and nuns also learn things from people who live ordinary lives. They practice love but their “lover” is the all-inclusive being.

BP: Has your heart ever been broken?

PS: Many times! You cannot know love unless you know the heart-brokenness!

BP: How do you envision readers using your book?

PS: Any way they like. They can use it as a little oracle. They can simply open a page at random and find their “message” or they can read it in sections or whole.

BP: Is there a significance to the progression of the chapters?

PS: The chapters do have a relative progression but it could be argued that some parts could be moved to different places. In my opinion the idea is to talk about love in general and then--what it means and then how to apply it in daily life. It is followed by meditations as well as some of my own contemplations.

BP: What is your personal favorite piece in the book?

PS: It is the chapter called Meditations on Love.

BP: Tell me about the beautiful illustrations.

PS: The illustrations were done by Johanna Gyarfas, the daughter of Cuca Righini or Lalita a student of mine who lives in Brazil. Cuca Righini actually had the original idea for the book

after seeing my posts on Facebook. Gyarfas is a very talented artist. I love them!

BP: You’ve written this book and come out with a beautiful new CD of chants. What’s the next project?

PS: I am working now on a more practical book about the mind. It is a conglomerate of disciplines on how to master one’s thoughts and lead life with wisdom.

BP: Thanks, that sounds great!

Illustrations: Johanna Gyarfas

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