An Ex-Monk On How To Pursue A Meaningful Life | Raghunath Cappo x Rich Roll

Added: Apr 29, 2024

In this podcast episode, Rich Roll interviews Raghunath Cappo, also known as Ray Cappo, a former punk rock musician turned monk. Cappo advocates for clean living, vegetarianism, and self-control. He shares his journey of immersing himself in the spiritual culture of bhakti yoga, which is detailed in his new memoir "From Punk to Monk."

Journey to India

Rich Roll shares that he is about to embark on a trip to India for the first time, invited by Arthur Brooks to visit the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala. Cappo, who has made numerous pilgrimages to India, discusses the spiritual richness of the country and how it serves as a treasure chest of wisdom for spiritual seekers. He emphasizes the inclusive nature of Indian culture, which embraces various spiritual paths and traditions.

Identity and Transformation

The conversation delves into the differences between Indian and American cultures in terms of identity and spirituality. Cappo highlights the importance of transcending the ego and recognizing the common spiritual essence that unites all living beings. He discusses the concept of self-improvement and the journey towards uncovering one's true spiritual identity amidst the challenges of the material world.

Challenges and Growth

Cappo opens up about a recent personal challenge he faced, emphasizing the impermanence of life and the importance of maintaining integrity and grace in the face of adversity. He reflects on the lessons learned from difficult experiences and the process of self-discovery and transformation that comes from navigating through them.

Mission and Influence

Cappo shares his mission of personal growth and extending love and care to others without expecting anything in return. He emphasizes the power of individual agency in creating positive change and the ripple effect that one's actions can have on the world. He discusses the role of vulnerability and sharing personal experiences in inspiring and uplifting others on their own journeys.

The conversation touches on the rebellious nature of Cappo's journey, from being a straight edge hardcore punk in the punk movement to incorporating spiritual themes into his music and message. He reflects on the impact of his individual choices and actions in shaping his own path and influencing those around him.

Morning Rituals in Bhakti Yoga

Cappo delves into the significance of morning rituals in Bhakti yoga, highlighting how these practices shape one's mindset and actions throughout the day. He mentions that starting the day with strong morning rituals can have a profound impact on how one treats oneself and others. By engaging in practices such as chanting japa, praying to previous teachers, and taking a cold shower, individuals can orient themselves towards a more spiritual and disciplined path.

The Power of Sound in Spiritual Practices

One of the key aspects of Bhakti yoga that Cappo discusses is the use of sound in spiritual practices. He explains that certain mantras and chants have a transformative effect on consciousness, helping individuals connect with the divine and uncover their true spiritual essence. He shares examples of how specific sounds can be used for different purposes, such as chanting for abundance or seeking assistance in specific life goals.

Connecting with Source Through Rituals

Cappo emphasizes the importance of connecting with source through rituals and practices that go beyond the physical realm. He mentions that Bhakti yoga encourages individuals to seek spiritual growth and direction through practices like mantra meditation, ritual worship, and singing. By engaging in these rituals, individuals can deepen their connection with the divine and cultivate a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the spiritual journey.

Discipline and Self-Transformation

Throughout the conversation, Cappo reflects on the role of discipline in self-transformation and spiritual growth. He shares personal anecdotes about his journey towards adopting a disciplined lifestyle, including practices like intermittent fasting, cold plunges, and breathwork. He highlights how these practices serve as portals to greater spiritual receptivity and help individuals break free from conditioned patterns of thinking and behavior.

The Power of Choice and Conscious Living

Cappo emphasizes the power of choice in shaping one's life and spiritual journey. He encourages individuals to embrace moments of discomfort and challenge as opportunities for growth and self-discovery. By making conscious choices in how they live and interact with the world, individuals can align themselves with higher principles and cultivate a sense of inner peace and fulfillment.

Community Support

Cappo underscores the significance of surrounding oneself with a supportive community that uplifts and encourages personal growth. He believes that positive relationships can serve as a foundation for spiritual development, providing a sense of belonging and accountability. By associating with like-minded individuals, one can navigate challenges and setbacks with resilience and grace.

Ego and Ambition

Reflecting on his own struggles with ego and ambition, Cappo acknowledges the tendency to seek validation and approval from external sources. He explores the delicate balance between ego-driven desires and spiritual aspirations, recognizing the need to align one's actions with a higher purpose. By shifting the focus from self-centered pursuits to service-oriented intentions, individuals can transcend egoic limitations and cultivate a sense of gratitude and humility.

Navigating Secular Culture

As a proponent of Bhakti yoga in a secular society, Cappo grapples with the challenge of connecting with individuals who may harbor skepticism or resistance towards spiritual practices. He acknowledges the stigma associated with organized religion and the disillusionment caused by institutional failures. Despite these obstacles, he strives to bridge the gap between spirituality and secularism, offering a message of universal truth and compassion that transcends dogma and doctrine.

Music and Spirituality

Cappo shares a transformative experience that reshaped his perspective on music and spirituality. A mentor's question about his guitarist's instrument led him to question whether he was using music to serve God or to elevate his own ego. This introspective inquiry prompted a profound shift in his approach to performance and relationships, prompting him to prioritize service and humility over self-aggrandizement.

Cappo's Transformation

Cappo discusses his background as a punk rock musician and how he found himself feeling unfulfilled despite his outward success. He describes how the death of his father and other life challenges led him to reevaluate his priorities and seek a deeper meaning in life. This inner turmoil eventually led him to explore spirituality and embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Spiritual Practices and Philosophy

Cappo delves into the principles of Bhakti yoga, a path of devotion and service, which he has embraced in his own life. He explains how practicing Bhakti yoga has helped him cultivate a deeper connection with himself, others, and the divine. He emphasizes the importance of surrendering to a higher power and letting go of ego in order to find true happiness and fulfillment.

Practical Advice for Spiritual Seekers

Cappo offers practical advice for those who are new to spiritual seeking, emphasizing the importance of consuming uplifting and inspiring content. He recommends reading spiritual memoirs, listening to podcasts, and exploring the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita as a starting point for those interested in deepening their spiritual practice.


Full episode

Episode summary