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Monk-style living, rich in meditation

The Hare Krishna monks who live on Quinpool Road are looking for a roommate. Their apartment, called the Ashram, is open to anyone curious about their lifestyle. Visitors walk into the meditation room, where a traditional Krishna Mantra is displayed on the wall.

Nitai Rama Dasa, 35, says they’re looking for a fourth male roommate willing to learn about the monk lifestyle.

Nitat says the new roommate would gain “peace of mind” living with them and “have a place where you can learn to nourish and take care of your soul.”

The monks practice mantra meditation, bhakti yoga, vegetarian eating and celibacy. They don’t drink, gamble or watch TV. Nitai says a person living with them wouldn’t have to hold himself to these rules.

“They wouldn’t be expected to be a monk,” says Nitai. “But there would be certain requirements. They’d have to follow the principles, have some commitment for meditation.”

For $500 a month all in, including two vegetarian meals a day, living with the monks isn’t a bad deal.

But 22-year-old Dustin Hingley, another roommate at the Ashram, says it’s more. Sure cheap rent is good;’ says Hingley. “But we offer nounshment for the soul and that’s something hard to come across. When you can find an atmosphere that is potent with nounshment, there’s a lot of benefit.”

‘Also, we are very clean'” he mentions with a laugh.

The house is tidy, spactous and soothing. Filled with light and lots ofspace for cooking and meditation, it looks like a good place to study as well.

Jeff Greydanus, 20, the third monk in the Ashram, says the monks teach life lessons.

“Living in this atmosphere you can learn a lot about social relationships,” says Greydanus. “You learn things you don’t learn in school. Things they don’t address, all the moral things. We teach you things you need in a social life, but in a spiritual way.”

Matthew Campbell and Jordan Stark, both fourth year students at Dalhousie University, met the monks this summer.

“The monks are great,” says Stark. “Rarely have I met individuals that are so generous, kind and authentic.”

After meeting on Spring Garden Road where the monks sometimes hand out pamphlets about Hare Krishna, they invited Campbell back to the Ashram for dinner.

“The monks nourish your mind, body and soul,” says Campbell. “The food is like none I’ve ever had before.”

Any roommate would have to get used to the constant visitors to the Ashram. People are welcome to go there to meditate, discuss philosophy, join the monks for a meal and learn how to cook vegetarian.

“Anyone can come,” says Nitai. “Religion doesn’t matter, we’re open to all people.” They turn up their Mantra chant, often played with their own drums and bells, as I leave. They hand me an apple because they believe no one should leave the Ashram hungry.

These monks are people you need to meet.

This article was originally published in issue 142-04 on Oct. 2, 2009.

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