It is my very great honor and pleasure to be with all of you this evening. Special gratitude to our esteemed guests, organizers, and to all of you.
One time my beloved guru Srila Prabhupada while in London was challenged by a journalist, “Why have you come to our country?” and Srila Prabhupada responded that, “Your country England ruled over India for many generations, and in the span of that time you took so much of our wealth to London, but you forgot to take our greatest wealth, our spiritual culture. I have come to give you freely what you forgot to take from us.”
Radhanath Swami describes the essence of all scriptures
I was born and raised in the United States, and I saw all around me so much wealth, so much luxury, such nice telephone system and road systems, and televisions and everything else, and I saw so much power, but to myself and so many people of my generation it was so hollow, it was so shallow, because you see greed could never satisfy the heart. Bhagavad-Gita tells that greed is like fire, the more you feed it, the hungrier and more it needs. When people are trampling on each other, exploiting each other due to greed, ‘Do I want to be a part of this?’
And then I heard of verse, that in many ways is the essence of the Bible, it was spoken by a great personality of Jewish descent who founded Christianity, Jesus Christ, and to me this statement is what a Christian is, what is Jew is, with what a religious person is. And I just saw that it was so rare all around me. The verse is – what profit of a man who gains the whole world but loses his eternal soul? That’s what I saw happening, and it’s happening today more than ever, even in the name of God. I was seeking my soul. I was seeking a meaning and purpose in life that would make whatever I did of actual value. Children in so many parts of the world, if we don’t give them a meaning, a spiritual purpose to live for, then they are so vulnerable to greed, to arrogance, to exploitation.
In my calling, I read literatures from India, and I really wanted to find something. I studied Judaism and Christianity and Islam, and I studied many other traditions, Buddhism, as I hitchhiked from London to India. And here I found my soul. I found a meaning in life.
Radhanath Swami shares stories of great leaders of past
Mr. Kumar was describing the story of Dadichi, how he sacrificed everything for a higher purpose. He was a sadhu. But one of the beautiful things of the great Vedic literature is, it really shows what leadership is, and most of the prominent examples are not sadhus, they are people with families, who have immense material responsibilities, but what was their character. Why did they have such loyalty from the people that they lead, because they genuinely felt compassion for them? Yudhishtir Maharaj, he had wife, he had children, he was a king, but it describes in Mahabharata, Srimad Bhagvatam, he considered every single one of his citizens as his own praja, his own children. He didn’t see that, ‘I’m the ruler and you are the ruled.’ He saw that, ‘On behalf of God, I’ve been given the responsibility to serve you as a ruler,’ and he was a servant of everyone, and therefore people loved him and followed him. Lord Ramachandra, in Ramayana, when he came back from exile, as Yudhishtir also came back from exile before he was a king, they had their difficulties and they learned good lessons. Ramachandra, every day, as the king of Ayodhya would open his court to meet any citizen, from the street sweeper to the ministers, to discuss their problems and solve them, because he saw everyone equally. This is the substance of Indian culture, this type of example of leaders.
Maharaj Shibi, why was he such a leader that people followed him with love, because he loved. He was willing to give up his life for the least person of his kingdom, a pigeon and because his citizens saw, ‘He is willing to die for the welfare of the pigeon in his kingdom, what is our importance?’ and they followed his role model. Rantidev, whether one was a Brahmin, or whether one was an outcast, or whether one was a dog, he was willing to give up his life for them and his whole kingdom, because they saw such a leader, everyone was God conscious, everyone was charitable.
Radhanath Swami elaborates on meaning of compassion
There cannot be poverty where there is compassion. Poverty is simply an extension of inner heart of human poverty. When there is a poverty of compassion, everything else manifests. – Radhanath Swami
And when there is wealth within the hearts and leaders, a mother and father is a leader, having managerial roles in business is leadership, government leaders educators are leaders, when there is inner wealth, when there is a connection to the soul, when there is compassion, and there is prosperity, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The Bhagavad-Gita teaches us,
jñātvā māḿ śāntim ṛcchati
People are looking for peace. Real peace can only be when we accept that there is one God, who is the source of everyone, the essence of all the great spiritual paths and religions of the world, when we understand that one God, and we understand everything is the property of that one God, ‘Nothing is mine, we are caretakers, we are caretakers of whatever abilities we have, whatever intelligence we have, whatever fame and influence we have, whatever money or property we have.’ And what does it mean to be a caretaker? Every living things a child of God. When we connect to our own soul, it’s no longer a matter of getting some tax relief or getting some fame for giving charity, it’s a matter of genuine care, ‘These are my family members.’
That’s the nature of a spiritual connection, when we see all living beings is God’s children, we care. We cannot be happy unless they are happy, para-dukha-dukhi. – Radhanath Swami
Human evolution is going from the obsessive need, to get things to the joy of giving, that’s the nature of the soul. The environment is God’s property that everyone, whether we are simple farmers or whether we are corporate heads or government leaders, we all depend on the environment equally.
To be conscious, to enrich the environment, not to pollute is a spiritual principle, and it’s a social responsibility. It’s simply a natural expression of compassion. – Radhanath Swami
The Bhagavata Purana tells, if you water the root of a tree it naturally extends to every part of the tree. Similarly when we actually come in contact with our own true self, the atma, the soul that is seeing through the eyes, and hearing through the ears, the source of life within us, we understand that our real wealth and our only true happiness is in feeling God’s love and sharing that love in everything we do, with everyone we come in contact with, according to our capacity.
Things can give some amount of pleasure to the body and mind, but things can give no satisfaction to the heart, only to love and to be loved can give fulfillment to the heart, and real happiness is a thing of the heart. – Radhanath Swami.
What do we want to give our children? Do we want to give them happiness or do we just want to give them external implications and complications? A mother doesn’t want to just see her child dressed pretty with jewelry, a mother wants to see her child happy. You can give her all the jewels in the world, but if you have time to give her love, she will look pretty but live in misery, and that applies to everyone. The more we have, the more we love, the more that is expressed, and in our Sanatana dharma principles, if you have compassion in your business, or you are in politics, or you are in investment, then you will be motivated millions of times more than somebody who is doing it for greed or prestige because you have a mission, the more you have the more you could help.
To earn with integrity to spend with compassion, that is dharma and that is something that each and every one of us need to take responsibility for, it’s not a theory, it’s the substance of life, it’s the substance of culture. – Radhanath Swami
It’s what our children and the world need to learn by our examples.
Radhanath Swami narrates the story of Joe Torre
A few years ago I was invited to speak at a conference in Beverly Hills, it’s called the Mike Milken Global Conference. And there was a panel discussion with several thousand people there, and I was invited to be present. And perhaps the top person with hotels in the world was there, a person who is CEO of the greatest food chain in the world, grocery stores, investors, bankers, a scientist who has more patents for cancer than anyone else, and then there was a baseball player’s name is Joe Torre. He was one of the three most successful baseball managers in history. Do any of you know what baseball is? How can I explain it? It’s kind of a Western offshoot of Indian cricket. But it’s the most popular sport in America, and it’s a huge business. The greatest team in the history is the New York Yankees.
The New York’s Joe Torre was introduced with this kind of life story, for fifteen years the New York Yankees did not get into a single World Series. And they kept firing managers and hiring new ones. They hired Joe Torre, who happened to be, before he was a manager, he was a Hall of Fame player, he was a most valuable player, he had all awards. And all the press of country were blasting him, “This is the worst mistake the Yankees can make, such a useless person being the manager? This is crazy.” And he was getting nothing but bad press. But he didn’t care what the press said. He was in charge of the team for the next 12 years, they were in the playoffs all 12 years. They won four World Series, most successful time in the Yankees history.
So he got up to speak and he said, “Yes, I’m in the Hall of Fame, and I was one of the greatest players of baseball that ever lived, and I was one of the three greatest managers that ever managed, and I made hundreds of millions dollars for the team.” He said, “But none of those things are really important,” he said, “The most important thing that has given me the most fulfillment in my life is not that stuff.” He said, “Would you like to know what was really meaningful to me?” He said, “When I was a child, I was in a very abusive household.” I think his father was an alcoholic and he was very abusive. He said, “There was so much stress and misery in my heart. As a child I would just go out and play baseball and just take out all my stress and my anxiety and my anguish and just hitting balls and playing, and that’s how I became so great. But after I retired,” he said, “I started within the inner-city ghetto schools, counseling programs for children from abusive homes, and when I see those children who went through what I went through, lost, confused, and alone, now I see them smile and I see that they feel loved,” he said, “that is meaningful, not the money, not the awards.” and he was very humble. He said, “And I have to admit to you. The greatest achievement of my life, which is this foundation was actually my wife’s idea.”
Radhanath Swami illustrates on applying the principle of yukta-vairagya
What is meaningful? I was just at a medical conference in American, one doctor from India said, “In my tradition, at the crematorium a person wears a white garment and there is no pockets that means you can’t take anything with you.” Arvind Mafatlal, our Rishikesh Mafatlal’s beloved father, he gave his life so much, he was a corporate person but he inspired his stockholders, his company, so much to invest in helping millions and millions of people in so many ways. And he was inspired by his Guru, spiritual inspiration. And after he passed away from the world, no one really cared about how much money he made, nobody really cared about how many awards he got, people loved him because of his love because of what he had given away.
You see, in this world, I’ve been around for 65 years now, I have never ever seen anyone love anyone for what they have, no one will love you for your money, they may give you some superficial respect or they may envy you, no one will love you for your skills, no one will love you for your fame or prestige, people will love you for your compassion, people will actually respect you from their hearts only for what you give, for your character, for your values, for your humility and compassion, this is leadership.
When we really understand that there is nothing more valuable than connecting with our true self, in our tradition we chant God’s names to make that interconnection, because you see unless there’s a spiritual connection, our compassion and our values could be very unsustainable, unless we have a deep inner reason, ‘Why I will have integrity, that means I will maintain my values even if I risk losing so much, I will maintain my values even if I can gain so much by putting them aside.’ Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, she explained what Jesus said, “The greatest disqualification for spiritual enlightenment is wealth, too much beauty, too much education, and too much fame, because they have a tendency of separating us and making us arrogant, and exciting our greed, akinchana-gocharan.” But then it goes on the principle of yukta-vairagya, if we understand that, ‘Our welfare, our beauty, our fame, our influence is God’s property and I’m a caretaker, and we use it in the principle of seva, then they are the greatest gifts that help us toward spiritual enlightenment.’ And what I have experienced is at the very core of Indian culture, there is such deep philosophical, cultural, presence of these divine principles, and I see so many of you living by these principles. It’s the leadership the world needs. Thank you very much.