For several years.
Meditation has really given me an entrance into this arena of a totally new paradigm of what love is with scriptures described as devotional service service without any selfish considerations.
I'm really excited about sharing this interview with all of you because I am sitting with the one and only grandkids who inspired my whole journey, the person who individually captivated me so early on in my life when I was 18 years old and when I heard him speak and heard him speak many, many times and interact with different people, inviting me to spend some time in India and just inspired me on my whole spiritual journey and literally changed the trajectory of my life.
Just simply meeting him for a week in London completely changed what I wanted to do and became my role model and inspiration in life and still is. And I'm excited that you finally get to hear from him and I get to ask him a few questions. Hopefully this is going to be a bit of fun as well. He's a he's hilarious. If he doesn't, then he's just being respectful. But I'm really honored and humbled to be sitting with you.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much for welcoming me and speaking those words. I've been so grateful that I've had you in my life since I was 18 years old in so many different ways. And I can honestly say that you have been there for me every stage in my life. And I think that's a very special thing because I think so many of us today in the world are looking for mentors. And I'm so fortunate that I met one of my biggest mentors in life so early on.
So I'd just like to honor you and share my gratitude and thank you and thank you today for all of this help you've given us this week in allowing us to form the ecovillage. And I want to start with talking to you about how well people I mentioned about you before would have spoken about you. The people may not have as a perception of monks. I think people often think amongst us either we know nothing about them or we think maybe they're lazy and they don't want to do any work or we think maybe they're uneducated and they didn't have another path.
Or maybe we think they were very religious growing up. But when I met you, I got fascinated by that. You didn't really fit into any of those categories. You were extremely educated. You are extremely educated. You come from a spiritual background. But it's not that you were you are a normal person at college growing up. I just want to hear a bit about how you decided that this path was right for you, because when I had for you done, I was so impressed that someone of your caliber who had everything that me and my friends were seeking were able to give it up so easily through this life.
So what brought you to this stage? Tell me about what you wanted to become growing up and then why you became this?
Well, thanks for asking that question. Yes, it's true that as I was in it. I did not have this idea of becoming a monk, but. I came across a few incidents and those were some of the turning point in my life. One of my friends who was pretty well-to-do in terms of education and studies. He once attempted suicide, and that really shook me up, and then for the first time, I started understanding that life is much more than just achievements.
But there is also a feeling of experience which each one of us is processing from within. So we are improving technology. We are improving systems. But what about the human experience which is happening behind those systems and behind those machines? On the other hand, I also found that in my class there were some other students who had failed in quite a few subjects, but they were not at all affected and they were going around the campus as if nothing has happened.
So I was pretty bewildered because I thought those were the ones who should be an anxiety. And when I asked them, they would respond by saying that our philosophy in life is simple, to enter the college is our job to take us out of the colleges colleges.
So why should we be worried? So I realize that beyond all the various externals, technologies, systems, that's the talk about GDP and everything. That is something which is not described in great detail in any of our textbooks. And that is the perceptions and the experiences which each one of us have as a soul. And that really made me. To seek answers in books which are beyond the regular ones, and then I came across the Bhagavad Gita and then I started getting answers to one of the most important principles in life.
Circumstances are beyond our control. And we have limited control over our circumstances, but we have unlimited control over our consciousness.
And therefore, I thought that was pretty deep. When an airplane flies, it takes off and as soon as it takes off, you'll see the same buildings look pretty insignificant. So we may not have control over the size of the buildings, but we have control over how high we can go. And similarly, problems in life may not diminish, but our consciousness can rise much about those so-called problems so that the entire perspective changes. So when I read the gate, I realized that one of the core principles to remain enthusiastic, positive, full of enthusiasm and energy in your whole life is the flexibility and the agility with which you can choose different lenses at any particular given moment, because sometimes a lens can make an object look very tiny and another lens can make the same object look very huge and appear to be extremely close to your eyes.
And there are other lenses which do not magnify at all. So therefore, depending on the situation and circumstance, how can we choose those lenses is something which is described in great detail in the ancient Vedic wisdom. And I got drawn to that. I started reading it and I didn't realize that my journey will take me one day to London so that our paths cross.
And that's a beautifully explained thank you for sharing that, because I think so many people who will be listening and watching today, so many of them may have that experience at college, too, that people are facing so much stress and anxiety. People are trying to become something that they don't want to be, but maybe their parents want them to be or maybe their friends or their peers think that that is what success is in society. How did you when you decided to become a monk?
I'm guessing that not everyone around you was celebrating that it may have been a tough choice or a tough decision. How were you able to make this tough step? Because even if people are not becoming monks, everyone sometimes has to make choices in life where people around you may not agree. And how were you able to do that? I know you do that now as well in your work. So many times you're having to make tough decisions where everyone may not agree with you.
How did you do that in the first instance of becoming a monk?
Well, to be honest, I was also not very sure whether, you know, I would be able to sustain this path because. Practically nobody in my family has ever done it before. And I was thinking, how will society respond to this and whether I'm making the right decision? And I was thinking, how should I process this moving forward? But then an incident happened, which completely changed my perspective. I was on the road traveling with one other senior monk, he was driving me and we were on the highway and this was November of nineteen ninety three.
And then as we were moving on the highway. Our vehicle hit against another truck and there was an accident on the highway. And our car got badly smashed. Luckily, in spite of being injured quite heavily, I survived. It was a very transformative moment for me because I saw my whole body filled with blood. And the doctor spent practically five to six hours in the operation theatre, taking all the glass pieces which had entered into my body. And then as I was recovering, I started contemplating.
That well, as far as my life is concerned. Even an inch here or there would have been the end of my life. And I'm only twenty two. And I could as well be dead by now, but looks like I've been given another chance, so whether someone in society or anyone else connected. Whatever may be their feelings or background, whatever their responses may be. Today, I am alive and I've been given a second chance. Let me use this second chance to do something great to serve others.
And therefore, I decided that I will use this opportunity, every breath which has been given to me back as a second chance, as an opportunity to share and spread this message, which has benefited me so much. So there are moments like this. Where you are practically hopeless. And then a small window of hope opens up and then you see everything from a different perspective. So for me, it was that moment which gave me that conviction to sustain this determination for a lifetime.
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I love that. I think we all have such similar moments in our life, whether they're near-death experiences like yours, maybe not as extreme, but I think everyone is listening and watching right now can relate to the fact that we all get these choices in life. Sometimes it's a second chance, sometimes it's an opening or an opportunity. And we at that point have a choice to make whether we want to carry on living unconsciously and without thought or without purpose or whether we want to live with deeper meaning and purpose like you chose.
And I mean, you've really lived up to that because I remember when I met you and even now, like today, we're sitting in an eco village that, of course, there's been a community behind. But you've led the development of there's the incredible food distribution work that you've definitely been involved in spearheading, the incredible work that's happening with the community in Mumbai. You know, you've been a part of effecting thousands and thousands and millions of lives, and I think you've definitely lived up to that increased.
Commitment. Thank you. Thank you so much. It's it's really special, actually, because I think that it's one thing to say those things that are actually authentically live up to it. And I can see you're always challenging yourself to the next level. And I guess that's that's what I love about our path of being a monk, is that. And I was speaking about this with rather for me to that we have self and service. So you have your own personal meditation, you have your own personal prayer and your sadanand your practices, and then you're going and extending yourself for the world.
All right. And I feel like you've found a way of using all your talents in service of humanity. So it's not that you became a monk. All OK, now I need to let go of this. You've actually believed that the gifts that you've been given or the talents you've been given can actually be used to help serve the world, which I think is a really important thing. Could you share a bit of that? Sure. And why that's important.
That's a beautiful question. The word monk. In the Christian tradition. It comes from the root word in Latin. Monchaux, which basically means. Solitude. And typically, Hmongs would contemplate in solitude. But there are several moms who would also engage in community work. In the Buddhist tradition, the monks are known as big cool or big shu. It has two meanings, one is bigger. Second is. A, it could it be cool, which means one who is able to see and perceive danger.
And that's a very interesting definition, because longsword were those who would lead their life understanding the knowledge. And protect themselves and people from the danger of ignorance. In the Hindu tradition, monks are known as Sunesys. Sanyasi would consist of three parts, some plus NE plus Astle. So some means totally. NI means to go down and also means to uproot. So Sanyasi basically means one who is dedicating himself to completely uproot, go down and uproot all the negativities and negative desires from within.
He does that for himself and he helps others also in their journey. Another word in Sanskrit for Monck is Waitaki. And that also comes from a very beautiful tapestry of syllables. We and Ragga, so women's without and rathmines attachment without attachment. And another meaning is we plus range plus one, which means without color. So that is a very interesting definition. Which very much correlates to the question you are asking, which means that. A Sanyasi Ottoway, raggy or annunciate or a mom is one who can be fully engaged in productive activities, which was a benefit to society but remains uncolored by any of that, he remains unaffected.
So that is one of the interesting perspectives of Wadongo or denunciation. Therefore, one of the core principles in the renounced order is. Absorption, absorption, I would divide in two important elements. One is the intention and second is action. Intention towards. Selfless service. Intention towards. Tireless service and intention towards pleasing selflessly. So the two elements are intention and action. Monkhood is all about how we can. Selflessly, please, others. And how we can tirelessly serve others, so the combination of this intention.
Of selfless, pleasing and tireless serving. It combines into giving an experience of total absorption. And that absorption is something which then expands in the form of compassion, and we include everyone else within that expanding circle of compassion and around the whole world in peace and harmony. Now you can see why it is amazing that it's really I've never had that before. I've never had the breakdown of the the words of the definition of monk and different traditions. That's incredible to hear that.
And I think that's what I find so special about this path, is that it allows the ability to serve as well, not just to live in solitude. And that's why my next question is I've read my book called Think Like a Monk. And the reason why I called it that is because I believe that you don't have to necessarily live like a monk to think like one, that it is a beautiful opportunity, if you can. But we we both know that for ninety nine point nine percent of the world, it's not going to be something that people are going to do.
But I really believe that the mindset that a monk is encouraged to cultivate of service, of self growth, of removing unwanted negative tendencies and implications, these are things that anyone can do. And in one sense, we all must do to live a peaceful and purposeful life. I'd love to hear from you what you think. Thinking like a monk, in your opinion, is relevant for the modern people in modern world and for people like me now who also live in the city, have normal jobs and married.
How does thinking like a monk actually help that person?
Bhagavad Gita describes? Four principles which are extremely important for us to follow. One of the greatest challenges in remaining grounded in life is our inability to tolerate provoking situations. Whether one is a monk or one is in household life or in a corporate life. Any kind of relationship or doing any kind of activity or occupation. We are constantly being. And therefore, get the first talks about what is known as with the situation with the. Which means. We have to tolerate our urges, so I would say tolerating our urge to consume the second principle is done with the.
Don't worry, first of duality. We have to tolerate. Various dualities which come in our life. And remain humble and aware of the fact that we cannot control all situations. So therefore. We have to tolerate the urge to control. Third, but amortization of the. We are so convinced about our opinions and our standpoint and our viewpoint that we want others also to buy into that so many arguments, differences of opinion happen, relationships break down because we have a strong urge to convince others.
So we have to tolerate that urge to convince others in certain situations. And the fourth is the urge to compete. And that is known as a solution of the. Certain people will do much better than us in so many different ways. We should feel happy when we see that and remember that we have a role to play. And we should resist the temptation and the urge to compete. So guitar focuses on how to elevate one's consciousness. About these charges.
To control, to convince, to compete. And then we are actually able to rise above all of these and realize that, yes. I have a role to play to serve each and everyone in society to the best of my ability. And therefore, people who are engaged in society are in anxiety because many times they're trying to compare with others. And this comparison is a huge cancer of the mind. Today, every single day in India, three hundred and seventy one people commit suicide.
Every every day, every day, every single day. Three hundred million people across the world are experiencing mental health disorders. Every single day, 18 billion cigarettes are being smoked. Six point seven, five trillion cigarettes smoked every year, one billion people across the world experiencing addiction to cigarette smoking and unable to give up. So practically each one of us have our internal challenges. And therefore, Geita focuses on first managing oneself. And then based on how we manage ourselves, we can manage others.
And in my own experience, I found that when people, irrespective of whatever occupation and profession they may be. When they cannot control these urges. To consume, to control, to convince, to compete. Then invariably they'll end up in so many difficulties, so many challenges. Social issues may not be described as emotional, issues may not be described as personal, issues may not be described in books of technology and management.
But all of those issues have a major role to play in our overall experience as individuals and in our contribution to society. For example, the word family. May not. Pop up anywhere in your management books or in your technology books. But today. Because of a lack of emphasis on family values and because of inability for people to control their urges. So many differences of opinion are cropping up, a country like Luxembourg has a divorce rate of 87 percent.
Spain has a divorce rate of 65 percent. France has a divorce rate of 55 percent, Russia 51 percent, America's divorce rate of four to six percent, the global divorce rate is 44 percent. And therefore, it's very important for us to realize. That there may not be much focus on instilling values in individuals and institutions as families. But if you do not focus and emphasize and invest in something in due course of time, you lose it. And therefore, it was not empty rhetoric when people would say a family which brings together stays together.
And therefore, it's very important for us to introspect which way we are going as a society. How much are all these values crucial and critical for self conservation and conserving relationships in society, conserving mental health and sanity in society? Because sometimes we may just think that these are not irrelevant because you cannot connect a dollar value to these values.
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Absolutely. Yeah, that's a fantastic answer because. I think that's the key thing that's missing, that we live in a world that believes if you actually chase the satisfaction of your urges, then that is freedom. The real success is actually following the or whatever urge you have to compete with someone could be if you were to compare with someone, compare. If you want to say anything about someone, you can say and we see that as freedom. But actually what you're suggesting and what the taxes suggesting is that we actually get real freedom when we don't need to do those things if we don't feel the need to do those things.
So to on that point, let's let's extrapolate that, because I think that's a really powerful point. What is the beginning of the step by step process of starting to create self-control? Because I think we see self-control is such a negative thing because it's seen as restrictive or it's seen as like almost being imprisoned. But actually we're imprisoned by our desires. But that still is like a massive paradigm shift for a lot of individuals today. And even for myself, when I first met you and I first came to explain why actually freedom comes from.
Controlling your urges. The guitar says Rogatory should be placed to Michigan in the Jaran automobile share with them. This is a beautiful words where Krishna says. Freedom from all of our base desires comes. When we are able to control our mind and follow a strict discipline of applying ourselves to follow a certain regimen. The word used is regulative principles of freedom. It may sound contradictory because self-control or discipline seems to have a connotation of being born as a prisoner.
Well, I'll give two examples, one. If someone is flying a kite. The question is, is the rope binding the movement of the kite on the rope becomes an instrument. For helping the kite fly higher. So if someone says, why is the kite bomb, let us cut the rope. So the kitman fly for some time, but then again, it will crash. So the rope is binding the kite. But the rope should not be seen as limiting the movement of the kite, but facilitating the upliftment of the.
Similarly. If you are caught in a traffic jam. You cannot move. And sometimes when the signals don't work. And if the policeman is not there in sight, then there may be a huge traffic jam. But actually. The traffic laws and the signals facilitate proper movement of the vehicles, so it is not to be seen as limiting, but facilitating. Therefore. When we look at discipline. Discipline is something which enables us to experience greater freedom.
And that's what the Bhagwat guitar is talking about, the art of self-control, the art of mind control, and by practicing this. Each one of us will actually experience an enhancement of our consciousness, and I think we will experience that.
I think everyone knows that when you. You feel like you're letting loose in the beginning, it feels good in the beginning, but then after a bit of time, it starts to feel really painful.
Yeah, like, for example, when the British were in India. They saw that at one point of time. Maybe a century ago. The Cobra population in Delhi was increasing. So they made a ruling. In order to control the COBRA population. If anyone gets a dead cobra and submits to the government office. They'll get a financial reward, and they thought by announcing this, people would go out and get inspired to kill cobras and the COBRA population to control.
But then quite a few people got inspired to read COBRA forms. And they started reading Cobra snakes and forms around the Cobra population started increasing when the government realized that this crab, the scheme the guys were raiding the cobra, became angry. Release the cobra in the city. No way. And therefore, this is known as the Cobra effect. Oh, wow.
No idea where the proposed solution of a problem is worse than the original problem. And therefore, people are in distress. They are depressed. They're unhappy. And they decide. Let me consume alcohol. Let me take drugs, let me do this, let me do that. So various momentary distillations which they provide to their mind and their senses may sometimes increase and enhance the problem. Then solve it. Therefore, the submission is. Try to understand how the system is designed.
Understand how these issues can be resolved in the best possible way within the design, and if there is a computer, it has a hard disk. If the hard disk gets a virus, then the computer just crashes. However beautiful the screen may look, but the hard disk is corrupted. Similarly, people invest a lot of time and energy building their body, building their physique, keeping themselves physically fit. But they fail to realize that a very important component of our system is the mine and mine is like the hard disk.
For this computer like body, and if sufficient investment is not made to keep the mind fit. Then in due course of time, one will be overwhelmed with negativities. And therefore. This kind of mental fitness. Is what is known as meditation. So meditation is the gym. When you actually perform various kinds of exercises to keep the mind fit. Well, after all these years of meditating for so many hours per day and leading so many of the meditation workshops yourself, what would you say for you has been the greatest gift that meditation has given you personally?
Everybody is looking for love.
Many people think love is all about pleasure. But in response to your question on meditation. The greatest gift, which meditation has bestowed upon me is a proper understanding of what is love. And I realized that love is about pain and not pleasure. In digital digital camera, there is a beautiful description which defines low. But I got a premiere A somehow I just need you to be there and not worry, Richard. In this, it is described that.
In every relationship. There could be various problems. Scarcity. Impediment. Discomfort, unhappiness. Change. Uncertainty. Lack of reciprocation and separation. All of these may happen in a relationship, but if the relationship continues. Then that is defined as low. And as I described before. How to please selflessly the object of your love. And how to so tirelessly. And so, in my experience. Love is something. Which is extremely rare, extremely valuable.
An extremely difficult. The process. Unless we are willing to put ourselves through a system of purification. And then when we purify ourselves, then lust, which is like iron, transforms into love, which is like gold. So in my experience for several years. Meditation has really given me an entrance into this arena of a totally new paradigm of what love is with scriptures described as devotional service. Service without any selfish considerations. I share this example. That when we began our Govindas restaurant in our Jakarta temple many years ago.
We decided that we will have pizza, and it was rather nice from his idea to have pizza. This was 2004. And we were not really experienced in making pizzas and, you know, some of us used to make our own version of pizza, which was.
You know, take a couple of loaves of bread and put some tomato ketchup and have some fried vegetables, and it was what we would call as pizza and we thought that is it. So when my dad said we should have because I said I mentioned to him. I don't think this is an item which we can sell in a restaurant and looked at me and said. Which page are you referring to, the one with you guys with me? I said that's what this know.
And they looked at me and said that which you feed me is not pizza. It's a what? A reflection of pizza.
And then we had someone come from New York and he gave us the entire recipe of an authentic Italian New York pizza thin crust, and for the first time in life, I saw artichoke hearts and I didn't know any of this. And I was initiated into appreciating what? The pizzas. So the word pizza was being used by us. But the experience was something else. The word pizza remained the same, but we were ascribing our superimposing the word bizarre on some other product, which was giving a different experience.
The whole world is speaking about love. Songs are being sung by movie actors and actresses and singers and rock stars about love. And all those are being sold in the millions, which are centred around the theme of love. But all of these descriptions are referring to an experience of selfish personal pleasure. Whereas the description has given in the Vedic scriptures. Is low means service without selfish consideration. So this has been the greatest revelation as far as meditation is concerned for me in my own life and my journey with rather than just for me and my other monks.
Amazing people often question how can anything be truly selfless if you know that it's good for you? And I want to hear your perspective on that, because I'm sure people have said to you, how can anything be selfless? Because if I know that it's good for me to do service and I'm serving, then it's not selfless. So how do you respond to that? The Solway major. It's designed to sell. So sugar by nature, is sweet.
And water by nature is liquid. So when we perform an activity and function, which is as per nature and as how it has been designed when experiences harmony and that harmony produces the greatest efficiency. And so the soil by nature is designed to so when we engage in serving and pleasing. That effect of serving and pleasing. It actually produces the greatest joy from within now running a business and being an entrepreneur is one of the most fulfilling things in the world.
And I wake up every morning and meditate on how grateful I am to do what I do. But with all the great things come great responsibility, as we know. And one of those is finding the right candidate for a position, especially during these times where we have to be extremely careful with all social interactions, but with all great things comes a lot of responsibility, as we know. And one of those is finding the right candidate. And right now, when you can't interview face to face and be in someone's presence, it takes a lot more challenging skill.
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And therefore there are four levels of motivation. And that's what has kept me going in my 30 years as a monk. The lowest level is motivation by desire. The lowest level is motivation by fear. The next is motivation by desire. About that is motivation by the sense of duty. And the highest is to be motivated by the sense of love. So if you analyze all these four levels, you will see. Actions motivated by fear and desire is simply a transaction.
Actions motivated by Dudi. May result in transparency. But it is only actions inspired by love. Which takes us to trance. And therefore, we have to decide, do we want to lead a life based on transaction? Or we want to lead a life based on trends. And so, again, referring to the janitor I called. But who, Patricia, Ramachandra, Ramona, Anila, onon the body, Lamani de of Vanilla. Mother Enderbury, a great St.
. He indulged in. Very hard work to get. Mother Enderbury agreed, saying he actually got a whole load of sandalwood. To please his worship, Lord Gopal, and in that process, he experienced so many impediments and difficulties. But this was reveals that on the money, the Colonel Gonella, his bliss increased. And he did not consider that in any way, shape or form to be creating any distress for him. And a very important word is used to Colonel Gunilla, Gonella basically means going to keep an account.
When we keep an account, it is a business transaction. When we are serious about something, when we mean business, we keep account. If I lend money to someone. And if I'm running a business so I keep a count of how much I earn, how much I spend. If someone is intent upon losing weight, they count their calories. So whenever there is seriousness and businesslike dealing. The principle of keeping account comes. Do Colonel Gonella means.
Is our relationship a business like transaction where I keep account of how much I've done for you and how much distress I have gone through and how many difficulties I've gone through in this relationship? If I keep account of that, then it is a business like relationship. When a child is screaming in the middle of the night. The mother spontaneously gets them to pacify the child. The mother never tells. Other other people in the family, I am not on nightshift, but I don't have overtime.
How much will you pay now because. She's just concerned out of a principle of selfless service to the child and therefore in a relationship inspired by love. One is in trance because we do not keep count. Of what difficulties we have to go through in that relationship, because we are simply concerned with pleasing the other person. And I believe. That when. I have led my life in this particular capacity as among. It has been keeping in mind a higher principle.
A soldier. Fites. To protect others home and hurt. Among fights to protect others hopes. And therefore, when people go to a pharmacy shop, they know they'll get medicine and they go to a bookstore, they know they'll get a book. When they come to a spiritual place where such spiritual discussions are going on. Why are they coming? Why are they listening to you? Why are they connecting with anything from any of our traditions? Because they are coming to receive hope.
And therefore, people may think. Well, this is my greatest asset. Position is my greatest asset, good looks are my greatest asset, political influence is my greatest asset, social acceptance is my greatest asset.
But all of these are assets which can be finished and destroyed at any moment.
As probably Geetha, the greatest asset. Is our hope if someone has hope. Even if he loses all the other things, he can still, in due course of time, do his best. And therefore, these kind of discussions evoke. Growth of the most important asset, which each one of us have. The power and the ability to hope. Absolutely, that's yeah, that's an amazing perspective of looking in that way, and I'm going to shift the conversation slightly, so hopefully this can be fun for all of you.
I wanted to go with some questions about our relationship because he's known me since I was 18 years old. I'm 32 now, so it's been a fair amount of time and we've spent a lot of quality time together in that time. So I wanted to ask him a few questions. And my first question was, and I wanted to be honest, you have to be honest. No, you don't have to sugarcoat. What was the first thing you thought of me when we first met?
Around that time, yeah, I was in London and Jay walks in with one more friend and then I look at him and I think, well, this guy looks like Tom Cruise.
And then, you know, he starts asking, you know, all kinds of questions, and I think maybe he's in distress because his girlfriend has ditched him.
So honestly, you know, I didn't think that you are so serious about wisdom and wanting to know more. At least it didn't appear at that time.
So those were my first impressions. I hope I'm not being offensive.
No, it's true. It's true. I was never I wasn't spiritually inclined as a young kid. And even in my teens, I was not so spiritually inclined. I think that's why I met at the beginning of the meeting. You was a real turning point for me, because even though I had some friends that were to spirituality, my family, of course, my father and I didn't really I didn't really see my place. I couldn't really understand how someone like me could be spiritual.
And I think that's why I'm so proactive in wanting to share with people in the way I do is because I want to share wisdom in a way that people like me who didn't really think they were spiritual or could access it, can actually find that answer. I think you're right. I would agree with that. OK, good. And then. And then. Did you ever think that I would become a monk? Because I used to tell you probably every time we met between 18 to 22 that I wanted to be right.
When I what I would hear that I would think this guy has gone nuts.
And I was worried because, you know, definitely he was so sincere. And your you were your intention to become a monk was coming from somewhere really deep. But because I had spent already so many years by that time as a monk, I knew that life was pretty rough in terms of, you know, a relentless a need for being disciplined. And, you know, it's going to be extremely difficult and tough. And you came across to me as someone so fragile and someone who's like a mama's boy, that I would always think that, oh, man, how will this guy tolerate all the hardships as a monk?
And I was trying to discourage you for sure for all those years. But, you know, what happened later was, of course, your call.
So this is good. I want you to listen to this because I want you to realize how much growth someone has to make. I think sometimes when I'm when I'm speaking now, when you hear me a lot of the time people feel that, oh, you've always been this way or you've always had it figured out. And the answer is we don't. No one has it figured out and we're all figuring out all the time. And emotionally we change as well.
I was definitely I think when I first met you, I don't think I was Thick-skinned. I don't think that I was resilient. And I think that I was I think I was fragile emotionally. I think I was very sensitive like all of these things were. And I was 18 years old. So should should I really put myself under pressure to be more? Maybe not because you're only 18 years old. But now when I look back and I think about how I've been able to grow and change, it's it's fun to see it from that perspective.
It's fun to look in the mirror with someone that has known you for a while and realize how far you've come and and for you to see how far anyone can come as well, including yourself. OK, that's good. And then when I became a monk, then we traveled together as well. What did you think during that time? What was what was your thoughts? Were they changing address like that prove you wrong or that way to go from that?
Now, I must be very honest that, you know, I never imagined that, you know, you will come to where you are today because at that point of time, I remember so many times you would break down and cry. And I was I was wondering that how will this guy survive his years as a monk? And I still cry if if someone had told me that one day this boy is going to become a social media celebrity, I would have said good luck.
But I definitely was impressed. No one with your sincerity in wanting to know and learn. So I think that was a very, very important value system and attitude, which you had even then an eagerness to know and learn. It was so sincere that I remember. That in all our travels, one thing which struck me was how precisely would keep notes. I don't know if you still have those notes, but I still have them from them. But what struck me more was you have one of the neatest and the most beautiful handwritings.
And I don't know whether, you know, those who are following you really have seen your handwriting, but it's mind boggling. And I still remember that, although I have not seen it for a long time. But the way you would capture the notes. Was very inspiring because it was very clear that you were wanting to understand very systematically all of that wisdom and. It has been an amazing experience to see how all of that unfolded in due course of time.
Another thing I would like to share is that in our travels. I could also see a very deep urge within you to share this wisdom. And that was pretty obvious because, you know, I was a speaker and so many people would come around and I would not have time to speak to all of them. But you would immediately start sharing wisdom with others just after the event. And that irresistible desire to share the knowledge and wisdom and help others was something which I observed even then and also.
That desire was so strong that you would see best practices. Happening in different parts of the world and especially at his control party. And you immediately will try to do something in London. And one example of that was how? You really try to help the youth in London by creating a beautiful house for the youth to stay right around the college campus where they could experience a proper ecosystem for spiritual advancement. And I think it was totally your initiative which was born of your experience of seeing something like that in India.
And I was pretty impressed. But in spite of, you know, your emotional side. I could always also see. Very strong resilience and the ability to withstand opposition challenges, difficulties and. Unwillingness to take no for an answer. And, you know, some examples of that was like some of the initiatives which you took at that particular point of time with respect to how to connect with the youth. And there were a lot of people who had other ideas.
But you were convinced of certain ideas and you really felt it was the best thing to do and you were willing to put your weight behind that. And that really impressed me because I thought, oh, here is someone who comes across as very emotional and fragile, but he still has the guts to lead with a certain kind of determination which does not come across immediately. So, you know, I did notice that. And I remember when we were in Florida and we were about to catch a flight and, you know, two airlines and then girls came up and they looked at you and said, hey, you look so happy and cute.
And I remember that. And, you know, I looked at you and I looked at them and I was thinking, why is this guy a monk? Maybe he'll be more effective if he's out there amongst the people and as part of society.
And at that point of time, there was practically no clue on what your future is going to be. But I could see that you had a tremendous ability to connect with people and reach out to people in ways which were pretty deep and something which not everybody could do. So these are some of my memories of those times seeing, you know, the soft side of your personality. But at the same time, you're still like determination, which seem to be couched under that external color of emotional softness.
But I do believe that without having that kind of dedication and determination, you could not have spent, you know, those three years as a monk with the many of us. And I remember, you know, putting you through the grind in the kitchen, you know, in front of a blazing fire. We would be cooking and you would be assisting. And even while the construction of this ecovillage was happening, you were out there in the sun helping with bringing various materials and assisting.
But all through all of these. The common thread which I saw was you had an enthusiasm and a zeal to sell. And that, I feel, is a very, very important character element, which has really brought you to where you are and and I'm so glad that, you know, millions of people who are connecting to you are extremely fortunate to have a guide who is connected with the authentic wisdom. Thank you, very kind, and all I can say, honestly, is that all the inspiration of anything I've ever done is through what I've learned from you and seen you do for so many years.
I remember coming with you to university events every single night in India every single night. Best would go out to speak to different students about this wisdom, and I would follow him and go every single night with him. And I still see this incredible enthusiasm from him to want to share this wisdom with everyone. When I saw that, I wanted to replicate the same things every time I saw him do something. And then I realized it wasn't him. I could have been him, which was a good self-awareness point for me.
You can't become your mentors, you can't become your role models. You can't become your ideals. And you don't have to, quite frankly. And I think that's one of the biggest mistakes we make when we're young and immature. But then you grow to respect them more because of what they can do and achieve, and then you learn to find your own place. And I think that's why you always allowed me to do you gave you the space. You never judged me for any of my mistakes or flaws.
And you you never expected me to be at your level or anyone's level. And you gave me space and freedom defined myself. And so every time I would find a different part of myself, I never felt judged by you to express that, to share that with you. And yeah, anything that I've ever tried is what I've seen you do here and in the end. But I've seen you do here with the monks here and spending time here with some of my best memories of living as a monk.
And I think anything that I ended up doing in London was completely inspired by your work and. Yeah, anything anything that I've done. That's good. It's thanks to you. And all the work that I'm doing now is it's just an inspiration from everything you've given me. So thank you so much.
Well, we are very honored to, you know, be a part of your journey. And I'm very happy to see. Your expression of humility and gratitude, because that's one of the very core elements of our spiritual journey. Yeah, and don't worry.
No one has to go to become a monk now, but we do recommend they come and visit the ecovillage where we are right now. I'd love so many of you to visit over the years when I start leading retreats. And that's a big part of what I'd like to do over the next 10, 20 years and beyond that. So this is just the beginning, as I always say. And we're very grateful that Congress is providing such a universal home facility, seven people to find their own spiritual path.
Thank you so much to you. Thank you and good recalculates. And thank you all for watching. Listening.