'One Night's Shelter' is an autobiography of an American Buddhist monk, Bhikkhu Yogavacara Rahula. His is an inspiring story of a drug-addict hippie who turned his life around towards Dhamma. Preface by Bhante Gunaratna:
Some of the people caught up in the 1960s drug culture ruined their lives. A few
turned their lives around and became an example to others. Bhikkhu Yogavacara
Rahula turned away from his unsafe indulgences at the right age by discovering the
truth at the right time with the right teachers. “One Night’s Shelter” illustrates how this
dramatic but gradual change took place.
His teaching of Dhamma is based on his own personal experiences with sex, drugs,
rock and roll, and self-centered behavior. Transforming a chaotic life into a regular one
is very difficult, much less turning to the religious and contemplative path. One needs
great determination and 100 percent honesty to do it. Bhikkhu Rahula has
accomplished this task on his own initiative guided by his own inner voice.
On one level this book could be an inspiring guide to anyone trapped in hedonism
and unhealthy habits of body and mind. They will come to see how he gave up these
habits and patterns and turned a new page in his life by following the Dhamma. It’s not
something that happened overnight. But he persevered, aided by the diligent practice
I met Bhikkhu Rahula in 1985 in Sri Lanka for the first time, when we both
happened to be visiting a certain temple in Colombo at the same time. At the time I
already had many appointments to see various people and did not have much time to
talk with him. When he came to live at the Bhavana Society as my assistant in 1987 I
began to know him little by little. He is a monk who does not care for food or comfort.
He devotes each day he lives to the practice of Dhamma in action. The Buddha’s
description of a monk like him is:
“The person who wears the patchwork robe, who is lean with veins showing
all over his body, and who meditates alone in the forest ─ him do I call a
This is Bhikkhu Rahula. He “is lean with veins showing all over his body and who
meditates alone in the forest” at the Bhavana monastery/meditation center. When he is
not meditating he is working for the benefit of those who come to this center to
meditate and for those who live here. He does not expect any reward or recognition for
his work. On the day we dedicated the new meditation hall, I said to him that I would
like to say a few words about his work on the new hall. He told me, “Please don’t say
anything about me. I would feel embarrassed to hear any flattery.”
Once he opened his eyes to the Dhamma, Bhikkhu Rahula began to appreciate the
value of his parents, teachers, friends, the Dhamma and the whole world. Not too many
people these days in the West fully appreciate what their parents have done for them.
As long as you remain blind to the truth of your parents’ value you will never
appreciate their sacrifices for you. This was but a part of his awakening to the world
and to his life.
Ultimately, you are totally responsible for your life. Bhikkhu Rahula’s commitment
to the Dhamma and practice of meditation and Yoga brought him to an extraordinary
position. Today he is a prominent meditation and Yoga teacher, teaching all over the
world. He states very dramatically how he was “reborn” while listening in rapt
attention to a Dhamma talk on his first retreat in Nepal: “This is Thanksgiving Day
(it was November 25th 1973), the first day of the rest of my life. Today I am
This actually is what you realize when you first glimpse the Truth of Dhamma. This
is inevitable. You have to experience it. No matter how many words you hear or read,
you will never be able to make this expression with total sincerity and honesty until
you touch the depth of Dhamma. “One Night’s Shelter” can be an inspiration.