When I lived in the monastery training was very disciplined. Each day was the same as the one before, we would wake at 4am, then meditation, meditation, meditation. Some times we would chant. The chanting would purify the atmosphere around us and the meditation would purify the atmosphere inside us.
When I was 17 I left the monastery and went into retreat. I did this for 4 years. The training was meant to penetrate my illusions and ego, but I found that the more that I tried to slay my ego the stronger it became. Some days it would fight me like a mad dog and other days it would try to be my best friend, bargaining with me and distracting me with visions.
Eventually however all this subsided and I recognized that all of this was simply my karma being burned off. In the 3rd year my Kundalini raised and brought with it a brief bout of madness as it cleared out the remaining debris of my ego. Continuing to practice the simple purification techniques helped to return inner peace from all these conditions. By the 4th year I truly thought that I had achieved something great.
When I returned to the monastery however something was different. Of course everything is always different but this was something very important inside me. I could not quite name it – but I knew that something was wrong. I needed to leave the monastery. 10 days later I made my leave and with blessings from my brothers I made my way to the city.
It was here that I was to face my karma. My path seemingly changed drastically from what had been dedication to Buddhism, yet in time I was to see that this was simply another step on my spiritual road.