It is my great honor and pleasure to be with all of you today, thank you. I truly learned so much from all those who have offered presentations, and I don’t know so much of what I could add: such brilliance, such insight, such experience, and such a practical and caring way and I truly thank all of our presenters coming, and giving your invaluable presence to this event.
Radhanath Swami elaborates on leading a purposeful and happy life
I am a very simple person. I went to one semester of a junior-college and decided to take a summer break and visit Europe; and ended up getting my higher education in the cave and the Himalayan in jungles. So I see things in very simple ways, and from what I heard from all of our esteemed speakers today, I came to a simple conclusion: we know the golden rule – do unto others as you wish them to do to you.
A true doctor in spirit is one who, from the core of their hearts, will treat each and every one of their patients, as they would want a doctor to treat them if they were in the patient’s situation; that’s quality of life. – Radhanath Swami
In the world we live in today, people have been so distracted from a meaningful, purposeful and happy life, because there is so much propaganda that success comes from the quantity of what you have: your money, your power, your fame, or your knowledge in regard to intellectualization; and in the pursuit of quantity, people forget that there cannot be happiness in ourselves nor can we give happiness to others unless we have a quality life. Essentially, everyone is looking for pleasure. The Brahma Sutra tells ananda mayo bhashyat, it is something every living thing has in common: the insects, the birds, the beast, every category of human beings, is looking for pleasure; and part of this pursuit of pleasure is to avoid pain, because pain disturbs pleasure.
I once saw a little girl, about seven or eight years old, she was from an extraordinarily wealthy family. Her parents provided a beautiful home, every type of toy and play-thing, beautiful clothes, beautiful ornaments, but they didn’t have time, nor did they see the need to give her the care, the affection, and the appreciation that the heart needs. She looked very pretty, but she lived in misery; her heart was crying for affection and she was given everything else. As far as I could see that is a serious disease in human society for people from all ages.
What is real suffering? What is real happiness? It is very much a thing of the heart. Give a person $1 billion or $1 trillion or rupees, if they don’t have somebody to love and they don’t know how to love others, it is all superficial. It is like an empty shell.
In every profession our true success is in how we are experiencing a meaningful, purposeful life that brings happiness to ourselves, and which empowers us to give happiness to others. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami shares a story from Barsana Eye Camp
I’ll share a simple story that really affected me. Every year Bhaktivedanta hospital has a cataract eye camp in a simple village in Uttar Pradesh near Vrindavana; Barsana is the name of the village. Thousands of people from other villages, which are quite distant, come because they have problems. We have a dental camp and eye camp, none of them speak English, but I go there and I speak to them through translators, and for most of them have never been to a dentist or seen a doctor in their life; simple people. Some volunteer doctors, nurses, and so many other devotees and people come to help.
One particular doctor – ophthalmologists, highly educated, quite wealthy, quite famous came from Mumbai, from his comfortable home came to live in this little village. There is no heat, it is the winter, it is muddy all over the place, and he is treating these simple villagers, who are mostly really old, uneducated, and in just very raggedy clothes; they are all in poverty. He removed the cataract from a lady, she was probably in her late 80’s, couldn’t spell her name, and probably never went to school. She just was wearing a really old faded torn-up sari, had only a couple of teeth in her mouth.
He took the bandage off her eye and she could see; she was so happy. She was so happy, and in her own very simple village way, she thanked the doctor by beating him on the head with her hand; she was beating him. And as she was beating she was saying, “May Radharani bless you with love for Krishna!” She is beating him, “May Radharani bless you with love for Krishna.” He never felt so happy in his life. It wasn’t just what she said, she was blessing him because he made a difference in a person’s life in such a way, and he started coming to this eye camp with his family every year; it is a highlight of his year.
He experienced something very special that everybody hears and knows but doesn’t really understand that when we get stuff we could make a living, but it’s only when we really deeply appreciate the joy of giving that we make a life. This holds true for people in every profession. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami on being grateful and honest
In the Bhagavad-Gita –
bhoktaram yajna tapasam sarva loka mahesvaram
One explanation of this verse is, we are not the proprietors of anything, and this is a universal spiritual principle that whatever we have ultimately we are completely dependent on higher powers to receive it. We may think we are great but we need the sun for its light and heat, we need the air to breathe, we need mother Earth to provide seeds, we need rain for anything to grow. If our mother and father didn’t selflessly take care of us, we could have never survived.
We are all at all times, whoever we are, totally dependent on gifts that are beyond our control. That’s just being honest. – Radhanath Swami
Sometimes when people asked me, “What does it mean to be humble because there is so much arrogance in the world today?” One explanation of humility is just to be honest, “I am completely dependent on so many gifts that are coming from God, and from so many gifts of that are coming from God through so many people, and so many wonderful gifts of nature and to be grateful.”
An arrogant heart cannot be grateful. An arrogant heart always feels, ‘I deserve something else, I deserve to be more.’ And we can have a pretense gratitude, but it’s not real. In gratitude there is joy. If you think you deserve something great and then you get it, are you grateful for it? If you really don’t think you deserve it and somebody gives it, you are very grateful.
In the Gita tells us that real integrity, real evolution of consciousness is when we are grateful to serve, to reciprocate – For one whom much is given, much is expected. We are caretakers. It was said by one of our speakers and which really moved my heart that we should actually see the presence of God in our patients. This is a universal principle. In the Bible, Jesus tells, “You treat me the way you treat the least of all people.” In the Bhagavad-Gita, in the Fourth chapter Krishna gives the definition of knowledge, this is the type of knowledge that transforms our hearts our lives, it gives us the power to transform other people’s hearts and lives. “True knowledge,” Krishna tells, “is to see every living being as part of me, as in me, and as mine.”
To the degree we actually connect with God within our own hearts, to that degree, aham bija pratapita, we will appreciate that whoever is coming is a child of God. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami highlights Indian culture of spiritual care and hope
This is the Vedic culture. This is the heritage of India. The heritage of India is not exporting software engineers to Silicon Valley; that’s nice, but we shouldn’t lose the substance of foundation of this culture.
When my guru Srila Prabhupada was in London, he was challenged by a journalist, “Why did you come to our country?” Because he was a swami teaching Bhagavad-Gita he said, “You British people you ruled over India for over a century, and you took the best wealth you could find to bring to London, so many jewels, so much of our economic prosperity, whatever treasures you found you try to bring it to London. But you forgot the most important treasure, India’s culture, India’s spiritual heritage. I have come to give you freely what you forgot to take.” So we shouldn’t forget this; this is Bharat Varsha, Dhrama Bhumi. The very foundational principle of the heritage of India is in this understanding.
The Vedas tell that when a guest comes to your home, you have to see that God has sent them. Our guru says that anybody who comes to our temple we should know how we treat them is how we treat Krishna. If you are truly making a connection with the Lord who is on the altar, then you will see his presence, his intimate child in the heart of all beings. Bhagavad-Gita tells, wisdom, realized knowledge
brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca
These are standards that we should put in our life. Real wisdom is when we see all living beings with equal vision that means we care, we want to make a difference. And the holistic approach in whatever our profession may be, and particularly today in medical practice, is our body, mind and soul to actually appreciate and recognize how we can uplift the health of a person’s body, mind and soul, through medicines, through therapies whatever it may be, we can give relief and health to the physical body.
But to actually make a difference in a person’s life that is only a little peace of it. If a person’s mind is terribly disturbed, he is going to be miserable whatever his state the bodies. To care, to give respect, to give appreciation to a person, to give compassion, to give a sense of love to that person gives fulfillment and health to their mind, and to be an instrument of a higher power than ourselves, to give them a connection to that higher power that were all dependent on, gives fulfillment to the soul, to the living force that seen through the eyes and hearing through the ears, that is the very source of life within us.
Some of our doctors from Bhaktivedanta hospital were telling me, when there was an earthquake in Gujarat some years ago, there was a lot of requirements for orthopedic surgeons and others; people were suffering. Homes of so many people were destroyed, their relatives were killed, and their shops were demolished. How much happiness do they get when you put a cast on their arm to heal their broken bones, we need to do that. But, spiritual care, they need hope, they need reason to live, to give them an understanding of the eternal soul beyond birth and beyond death, to teach them how they could commune to God with even their lost loved ones, to give them tools in which they could make that spiritual connection, and find that emotional peace through it. And of all the services we performed, we were giving food, we were rebuilding houses, we were giving medicines, we are fixing broken limbs, what was appreciated the most, what was most needed, and that was giving that inner connection and hope to their life.
A doctor in whatever situation of a patient should give that patient hope. – Radhanath Swami
If they have a terminal disease and they are going to die, we should give them some tools to go beyond this lifetime and give hope. If the person doesn’t really feel trust and faith and hope from the doctor, it is going to create a very very negative mental situation, and that is going to seriously impede their physical, mental and spiritual growth. I think we’ve all experienced it.
When I was a little boy, growing up north of Chicago, if I was sick and my mother really needed some medical help, she would call the doctor and within a half hour he would be at our house, and anybody could afford whoever we were. Even when I was nine years old, my father went into total bankruptcy, but there was never a worry about medical help, he is called, and he comes.
Now in America my father is 92, I see he is in a suffering condition, he doesn’t know he is going to live or die. He calls the doctor, and they give an appointment in three weeks, and there is nothing available until then. If you want something more then you talk to the secretary on the phone, and she’ll tell you what to do. If you really need something else then you just go to a local hospital to the emergency part. And I saw, in some many situations like these, him and many others become really hopeless and depressed.
Now I challenge that doctor, “If you were in the position of this patient, is this the way you would like your doctor to treat you?”
That means no integrity; it’s just about money. From a human point of view that’s a worthless life. Humanity is to care. Share your care is what some of our doctors have created; that’s what it means to care is to share. Seva, a sacred word in Sanskrit means to serve with compassion, to serve with love; this is the greatest need in the world. If business people, industrialists, doctors, nurses, what to speak of religious people Swami’s and priests – we have our issues too, not much difference – if we don’t clean our hearts, if we don’t understand the true value of giving, if we don’t understand that devotion and love is the foundational principle of what makes life worthy of living, then we are part of the problem not part of the solution.
Radhanath Swami sketches out the qualities of leaders of society
In our medical schools, in all of our schools, if we don’t teach our children the value of character, the value of compassion, what are we really giving them? There is a saying – if you lose your wealth, you lose nothing, if you lose your health, you lose something, if you lose your character, you have lost everything. But, how do we teach this to the next generation? Through our example. Krishna tells in Bhagavad-Gita – what leaders do, the common people follow. And people in medical profession, doctors, lawyers, are really leaders in society, people are coming to you when they are desperate, they are looking for hope, they are looking for relief, they are looking for liberation from their leaders and the young people see this. We have to lead by our example.
If there is a strong foundation in the building, even the most powerful storms cannot move it; but if there is a weak foundation, when the storm comes the building crumbles. It is that spiritual connection. That connection to something within ourselves to the soul and God’s grace, humility, gratitude. When we have that we find peace, we find meaning, we find love and then whatever storms come in this world, it cannot move the integrity or the fulfillment of our life. – Radhanath Swami
Through the way we perform our work, to exemplify these principles is the greatest contribution we can make to humanity. And I see in this wonderful conference today, this is the theme that is like the thread that is going through all the different flowers of everyone’s explanations and appreciations. Satsanga means we empower and inspire each other because we need that. There is too many powerful storms of distraction; weapons of mass distraction are constantly bombarding us. But conferences like what I’m seeing today is beautiful, people with real values, people with real experience and wisdom are coming together to share; and as we share we grow. The people in this room today, if we share our care and have these values, we can truly make a very significant difference in changing the world. If we don’t think that’s possible, then we miss the greatest opportunity in life; but we can make a great difference in the world. Thank you very much.