這次赴美是慧命法師的第四次難民經歷。他生於一九一五年六月十五日，生而難民；二次世界大戰中，成為難民；而後出家作和尚，遠離故國，是另一種意義上的難民。在他出生時，正值一次世界大戰硝煙初起，他母親攜帶著他倉皇逃至 Zagreb 。一九四四年，在他女兒出生後，全家又被迫從南斯拉夫的一個意大利省份，避難至二次世界大戰盟國美軍佔領下的意大利南部。
避難前，在一家意大利書店中他偶然隨手翻閱到一些佛書。從一本佛經中佛勸戒醫師 Ji-vako 的話，他找到了他素食的信仰根源。佛說：「若見若聞若疑食有葷腥者，勿食。」數年之後，他捨去國籍、財產、家庭及教授之職，並以醫師 Jivako 之名為己名而在斯里蘭卡落髮出家。
比丘慧命是位傑出的學者，他學問淵博，言通八語（賽爾維亞──克洛愛西亞語、英語、德語、意大利語、法語、拉丁語、巴利語、梵文）。一九五八年，他的第一部《東方哲學》上下卷問世，榮獲著名的 Matica Hrvatska, Zagreb文學獎。其後，他以各種語言寫的著作大約一百部，包括文章、翻譯、及他為其他佛教翻譯書籍作的序等，遍及南斯拉夫和海外。他在南斯拉夫出版的十一部著作中，有一部主要著作《亞洲哲學的十字路口》上下兩卷，一千多頁。他的英文著作包括他給各哲學雜誌和佛教雜誌的定期寫稿，和兩部英文著作：《叔本華與佛教》（一九七○年坎迪出版社）與《比較哲學研究》（一九八三年哥倫布出版社）。
慧命老法師在前南斯拉夫出版的著作之所以特別有意義，在於其能在一個宗教自由受禁錮的共產主義國家介紹傳播佛教。他自稱是一個「禁果的經紀人」。他翻譯的一首巴利文詩『犀牛』（Khaggavisana Sutta from the Suttanipata）未經他的同意，他的朋友就迫不及待地給出版了；這首詩對藝術家與知識份子的影響深遠，竟成了他們在南斯拉夫對佛教與佛教僧侶的定義。
二次世界大戰之後，慧命老法師在南斯拉夫駐意大利羅馬與西德波恩的外交辦事處工作。旋後他獲得 Zagreb 大學的博士學位，並於該大學擔任副教授。他亦曾受印度許多大學榮邀為訪問學者教授。當他的女兒也取得博士學位時，他感到該是他履行夙願的時候了。一九六六年，他在素有「隱士島」之稱的斯里蘭卡的佛教僧團受戒出家；一九六八年，受具足戒。
慧命老法師在萬佛聖城度過他生命的最後六個春秋；他一邊講學，一邊作為長老比丘而經常主持各種儀式。這期間，他翻譯並出版了兩部著作：一是在一九九○年將 Dhammapada 翻譯成他的本國語言；另一部是將《從佛教哲理看宗教》翻譯成英文。（一九九二年法界佛教大學出版）。
Bhikkhu Nanajivako Maha Thera died peacefully during the night of December 28, 1997, at his home at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Talmage, California.
A native of Yugoslavia, Bhikkhu (the title of a Buddhist monk) Nanajivako Cedomil Velajacic, Ph.D., arrived at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in the summer of 1989 as a refugee from war-torn Sri Lanka with one robe, his daughter, and a remarkable past.
Coming to America was Bhikkhu Nanajivako’s fourth experience as a refugee. He was born June 19, 1915, as a refugee, became a refugee again during World War II, and was a refugee in another sense when he left his native country to become a Buddhist monk. At his birth, his mother fled with him from Bosnia, where World War I was beginning, to Zagreb. In 1944, after his daughter was born, he and his family were evacuated from an Italian province of Yugoslavia to southern Italy during the Anglo-American occupation of World War II.
Shortly before the evacuation, he happened to find some Buddhist literature in an Italian bookstore. In one of the Sutras (Buddhist scriptures), he found his own vegetarian convictions expressed by the Buddha’s advice to the physician Jivako: "If you see, are told, or have doubts that a food contains meat, don’t eat it." Years later, he renounced his nationality, his property, his family, and his career as a professor to take the name of the physician as his own name and become a member of the Buddhist Sangha (monastic order) in Sri Lanka.
Because he had witnessed first-hand the devastation of war, Bhikkhu Nanajivako spent a lifetime devoted to the study, practice, and teaching of nonviolence. As a youth, he became interested in Buddhism through the teachings of the Theosophical Society, but traditional Buddhist organizations and the authentic Buddhist canon were unavailable to him. The newspapers, however, were filled with articles about Mahatma Gandhi and his teachings on ahimsa—nonviolence. Influenced by Gandhi’s example, Bhikkhu Nanajivako became a vegetarian and was an active member of the Vegetarian Society from the time he was nineteen. In 1935, at the age of twenty, he began to spread his ideas by writing and publishing various articles and essays in Yugoslavia on ethics, culture, and vegetarianism.
Through his writings and knowledge of eight languages (Serbo-Croat, English, German, Italian, French, Latin, Pali, Sanskrit) he established himself as an outstanding scholar. He received a prestigious literary award (Matica Hrvatska, Zagreb) for his first two-volume book, Philosophies of the East, published in 1958. A bibliography of his writings since then lists approximately one hundred works in various languages, including articles, translations, and introductions to translations of books on Buddhism, published both in Yugoslavia and abroad. Of the eleven books he published in Yugoslavia, his main work is Crossroads of Asian Philosophies, a two-volume book of over one thousand pages. His works in English included regular contributions to philosophical and Buddhist journals as well as two books: Schopenhauer and Buddhism (Kandy, 1970) and Studies in Comparative Philosophy (Colombo, 1983).
Bhikkhu Nanajivako’s writings in the former Yugoslavia are particularly significant in that they introduced and spread Buddhism in a Communist country where religion was not tolerated. He referred to himself as "a dealer in prohibited fruit." His translation of the famous Pali poem "Rhinoceros" (Khaggavisana Sutta from the Suttanipata), published by friends of his without his knowledge, had such an impact on artists and intellectuals that it served as Yugoslavia’s definition of Buddhism and Buddhist monks. The gentle scholar took to heart and put into practice the principles taught by the Buddha. Of World War II, he says, "I would have killed myself rather than take the life of another." His knowledge of many languages helped him to find work in refugee centers in southern Italy along with his fellow conscientious objectors, the Quakers.
Following the war, Bhikkhu Nanajivako served in the Yugoslav Diplomatic Service in Rome, Italy, and in Bonn, West Germany. He received his Ph.D. and became an Associate Professor at the University of Zagreb. He was also a visiting professor in various universities in India. When his daughter received her own Ph.D., he felt that it was finally time for him to fulfill his greatest wish. In 1966, he became ordained as a member of the Buddhist Sangha at Island Hermitage, Sri Lanka, and in 1968 he received higher ordination.
Bhikkhu Nanajivako wished to spend the remainder of his life in Sri Lanka as a hermit-monk. But a terrorist revolution brought civil war to that country and, with the additional factor that he needed an eye operation, his daughter persuaded him to join her in California. When he arrived, he sought a monastery that was strictly vegetarian where he could continue his quiet lifestyle. At the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, he found a Way-place that firmly adhered to the Buddha’s precepts and moral teachings and that fulfilled his requirements.
Although his life at the Sagely City may have been peaceful, it might not have been as quiet as he anticipated. A few weeks after his arrival, he participated in the summer Symposium on Ethics, often adding a Buddhist perspective to the talks by speakers from various fields. At the end of the summer, he was one of the Certifying Masters during the ordination ceremonies for Bhikshus (monks) and Bhikshunis (nuns). Although Chinese was not among the languages he understood, he regularly attended the Buddhist ceremonies and said that he “discovered the spiritual in Chinese music... In Sri Lanka, even young Bhikkhus have turned to terrorism... But here where it’s so quiet, the music resounds in my ears, helping my concentration.”
Bhikkhu Nanajivako spent the first five or six years of his stay at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas lecturing and serving as an elder monk, often presiding over special ceremonies. During that time, he published a translation of the Dhammapada into his native language in 1990, and the book A Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in English by the Dharma Realm Buddhist University Press, 1992.
[Note: Bhikkhu Nanajivako’s body was cremated on January 1, 1998, and many sharira (relics) were found in the ashes. The sharira on the skullcap are large and translucent like jade. ]