When we think of monks, we don’t often think about them in relationships. We imagine monks as hermits who live in isolation. In Chapter 10 of Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty describes how the time he spent living as a monk taught him a lot of valuable lessons about trust and relationships and the way these lessons transformed his relationships.
“When I returned to London after deciding to leave the ashram, I found that I was much better at all kinds of relationships than I’d been before I took my vows,” writes Jay Shetty. “This improvement was even true for romance, which was a bit surprising given that monks are celibate and I’d had no romantic connections with women during my time in the ashram.”
In his book, Jay Shetty explains how the ashram fostered a sense of camaraderie and community. Everyone looked out for each other, not just their own needs. This sense of community created deep, lasting relationships.
“In a community where everyone looked out for each other,” Jay Shetty writes. “I initially expected my care and support for other monks to be returned directly by them, but the reality turned out to be more complex.” Although his care for other monks wasn’t always reciprocated in the same way he’d given it, he found that he wasn’t lacking.
“Love is like a circle,” explains Jay Shetty. “Whatever love you give out, it always comes back to you.”
Monks look at love as a network of compassion instead of a one-to-one direct exchange. We each have different roles to play, but monks believe these roles aren’t fixed. Anyone can be in any role at any time.
“The person who is your teacher one day might be your student the next,” writes Jay Shetty.
Relationships and Trust
Relationships and trust go hand in hand. There are four types of trust we all experience. Understanding how these four types of trust1 fit into our lives helps us keep from placing unrealistic expectations on others. Most of us know one person that fits into each of these categories:
Competence. When someone is competent it allows us to trust their opinions and recommendations.
Care. When we are putting our emotions into someone’s hands, we need to know they care and that they have your best interests in mind.
Character. We look to those with a strong moral compass and uncompromising values to trust. They help us when we feel uncertain or need wisdom and guidance.
Consistency – There are certain people you can count on who are reliable, present, and available when you need them. These people will stick with you through the highs and lows1.
In relationships, we don’t get a sign that tells us how people will act around us. Instead, we must stop and look at their actions and how they treat us. To learn more about the four types of trust and the lessons on relationships Jay Shetty learned during his time as a monk, read Chapter 10 of Think Like a Monk.
1 a field study of military leadership in Iraq: Michael D. Matthews, “The 3 C’s of Trust: The Core Elements of Trust Are Competence, Character, and Caring,” Psychology Today, May 3, 2016, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/head-strong/201605/the-3-c-s-trust.