First of all, I just want to say a huge thank you to each and every single one of you who've bought my book, left a review, shared it with your friends. It's been incredible to see you all think like a monk.
And if you don't have it already, please, please, please go and grab your copy at Think Like a Monk book dotcom where you can get audible Kindle. And I read through the audible myself. It's over 20 hours. If you could deal with my voice a little bit more than it's right there. But I can't wait for you to read this book. I put so much love and energy into it and I can't wait for you to train your mind for peace and purpose every day.
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Remember it's blinking dot com forward slash real enlightment doesn't mean being from this particular religion or this particular organization. Real enlightenment is when we really see others with equal vision and we become a well-wisher because we see everyone as a child from the same source as we are.
So this tendency to compare ourselves to others, whether it's in beauty or wealth or fame or power or athletic abilities or it's it's simply a distraction from real happiness, real peace and real meaning in life.
However, one welcome back to On Purpose, thank you so much for taking time out of your days to listen, to learn and to grow, you're making such an incredible investment into finding and growing yourself. And I really, really appreciate that you trust us here on purpose to help you do that. And you know that it's my commitment to connect you with the ideas, the insights and the individuals that can truly elevate your thoughts, help you live through higher frequencies and vibrations and actually live to your highest potential.
And today's guest is a truly extraordinary and remarkable person, someone who has held such a deep position of change in my life and I know for a fact has changed the trajectory of what I would have done. His work is absolutely astounding. He's a world renowned spiritual leader, a philanthropist who's doing so much incredible work in the world. And in New York Times, best selling author, his work's been recognized by everyone from Barack Obama through to everyone from Prime Minister Modi to the business leaders, CEOs and different people across the world.
He's spoken to everywhere from Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, Oxford, Apple, Salesforce. He's been invited to keynote at these organizations about real leadership, about deeper values and meaning and purpose in life. And his work to serve the world is absolutely phenomenal.
Sports, schools, hospitals, welfare camps, a food distribution program that feeds one point two million meals a day to the children of India and an eco village that demonstrates sustainable living for modern day. This project is absolutely amazing and you're going to get to hear about it on this interview today. His name is His Holiness RadNet Swami, and he's been a swami, a type of monk in the Hindu tradition for over 40 years. Please welcome him to the purpose show.
That's why it's such an honor and a pleasure to be able to interview. Again, thank you for giving me this opportunity for the third time.
It is truly my honor and pleasure to be with you again.
It's fantastic to be here with you in L.A. this time last time. The two times we've interviewed you before, the first time we were at the Huffington Post in New York and then we were at Nasdaq in Times Square. And so now we're here in L.A., Hollywood. And I'm so grateful to you for always taking our time and being so gracious. And the first question I wanted to ask you, because I know that I get this conversation and question a lot, is what is a monk and what is the purpose of being a monk?
And I think no one better to ask than someone who's been a monk for over 40 years now. So I'd love to hear your definition and from your journey. Everyone is unique, so everyone has a unique reason for whatever we do.
That's just the nature of life.
So similarly, we all have our reasons for going into our occupation, for the responsibilities we have for our families, and also for being a monk.
The idea of a monk is could be explained from the perspective of the Bible, where it is said we should be in this world, but not of this world.
And for a person who's in family life or very much living within the secular society, that means we're performing our work. But simultaneously, our purpose, our goals, our intent is higher than this world. We're not motivated simply by greed and arrogance and envy and selfishness, but we're motivated by compassion, by love, by harmonizing our body mind with our souls and with the world.
So when one becomes a monk, when it separates from many of the externals of this world, but is really doing it for the well-being of the world.
A swami is an ordained monk within the yoga or Hindu tradition and a swami as one who.
Does not have a specific family where one has to work an occupation to support, but one makes the whole world his or her family. That is the idea. It within our community, in India, for instance, we have industrialists and business people and politicians and farmers and engineers and scientists and educators and students, and we also have monks and everyone has a very, very unique and special role.
The monks are those who give their full energy to the community and society through giving an example of spiritual focus that can inspire and give direction to others in society. Hmm. I think that's such a beautiful answer. And I couldn't agree more. I think there's such a need today for us to. I always say that if we want to learn something deeply, you have to go to the person who's doing it with their whole life. So if you want to learn how to play basketball, you would go to someone like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
And if you want to learn how to be an investor, you'd go to Warren Buffet. And if you want to know technology, you'd go to Bill Gates. And I feel if people really want to understand service and giving their life for others and to really understand how to overcome the impurities of the mind, then we have to go to monks, because that's what monks are dedicating their whole life and their. Yeah, their whole life to. And so that's that's beautiful to hear from your perspective that it is such a specific goal and it is so dedicated and devoted to that goal as as a life.
And so you're spot on. We need examples and we need role models that we can truly look to for internal character. So one of the things I'm interested by and for anyone who hasn't read this book, it's called A Journey Home The Autobiography of an American Swami, which is rather than it's from his autobiography.
And in that book you talk about and we've spoken about this before, but I want to look at it, particularly this angle here, that at age 19, you chose to hitchhike across the world in search for the truth and in search for connection with yourself.
First of all, why did you feel such a need to do that? Why did you feel that you needed to go in search for something? And how did you know you were getting closer? Because I think so many people today are on a search and they want to find something, but we don't know either where to look or be. We don't know when we're getting closer. So how did you know when you were on this worldwide journey? I was a teenager in the 1960s, which was a very turbulent time in the history of America, and it's in many ways it's not so different than today.
And, you know, the specifics may vary, but the idea. Of something really being wrong. At that time, the civil rights movement was something that really impressed me because when I was a boy, I had a job 15 years old, and I was working with African-American people who were of the age of my parents. And I saw at that time that they were really beaten down by racial discrimination. And because of that poverty, very little opportunity for education to make a living and to deal with it.
Most of them were alcoholics, but they were such good people. They were my best friends in many ways.
And when I would go to school the next day and pledge allegiance to the flag, we would say one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. That didn't make sense to me. The principal was excellent for how people were living in America was something like that, so it was a contradiction and I couldn't just put that away, you know, I had to address that in my life. And at the same time, there was a Vietnam War where when you become 18 years old, many of us, you have a choice of going to jail or going to kill people that you really have nothing against.
In fact, most of us didn't believe we should even be there for the war, but yet we were forced and people were coming back, our friends coming back dead or wounded or traumatized.
What's happening? So I joined the counterculture. I joined the civil rights movement, and I was really an activist because I felt that was true to who I was and what I believed.
After some time I understood this saying of Gandhi, be the change you want to see in this world.
And I really wanted to do that.
And I came to my own conclusion that that change requires a spiritual connection. So then there was another problem, because I was looking at religions and I found in practically all the religions that I was exposed to, there was elements of hatred.
In the name of a loving God. Arrogance that we're better than everyone else or I'm better than everyone else, and so much of the problems of the world were coming from interpretations of religion. So I either had to reject that the concept of religion, or there must be something at the heart of the essence of all religions that's universal and that's beautiful, and that actually brings out divine qualities in a person. And somehow or other, my family wasn't religious in a formal way with my mother and father were religious by selflessly serving their family and trying to be good to others.
And that made a big impression on me.
But as far as really searching for spiritual truth, I came to a conclusion that, yes, there is something at the heart of all true spiritual paths that can transform us and unify us. And I was looking for that, so I began to study Judaism and Christianity and various forms of yoga, and when I went to Europe, I was studying in cathedrals and monasteries and at museums and in forests. And then ultimately I had a calling to go east and I hitchhiked.
And while I was in the Middle East countries, I was studying Islam and eventually took about six months to hitchhike from London to the Himalayas and India, where I studied various forms of Buddhism and Hinduism and yoga and and other such spiritual paths and meeting great spiritual people. And I was looking for that essence. And I found that that essence really is the inherent nature of every living thing, we're all a part of God, and our greatest potential is to awaken the dormant love for God that's within us.
And when that love is awakened, when you put water on the root of a tree, it naturally extends to every part of the tree. When that love is is awakened within our heart, it naturally extends to all living beings because life is sacred. When we understand ourself, we understand our relationship. With everyone and with everything.
The environment today is so much being neglected and exploited because we don't really have a heart connection where we understand how we are interdependent with the environment and if we really care about other people, our own family and the broader family of humanity and the expanded family of all living beings, of all species of life, the more our love gets deep, it expands to include more and more and more people of all varieties.
And we're all depending upon at every moment the environment. And to the degree we discover that love within ourselves, to that degree, it will. Be expressed through through our actions, to our words, in whatever role we are in society, in the form of compassion.
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And that's that's that's amazing. I and I really want to talk about your environmental work. The thing that I find that you get asked this a lot and what you did differently, which I think's unbelievable and and just insurmountable to believe what you were able to do. But today, I know that a lot of my generation I know a lot of the audience listening. I know you get asked this question.
We were with someone the other day that, you know, it's just so depressing sometimes to look at the news and people read papers and then they go online and they see videos. And there's just so much negativity, there's so much depression. Everything makes you fall down. And a lot of people feel like they just feel helpless to do anything. But when you saw pain, you actually use that as a launch pad to go ahead and try and change yourself, but also to change the world.
Now, how does someone go from that journey? So if someone today listening is really feeling like everything's just overwhelming and it's bringing me down, how do we deal with that emotion and actually change that experience? There's a saying seek and you shall find knock on the door will open if we're looking for opportunities to make a difference in the world. As we're connecting to the to the purpose of love in our life, we'll still be looking for opportunities to express that love.
There was a very, very enlightened person from West Bengal in India, but Divino Toccoa, he wrote many, many books.
He happened to be a family person with a wife and 10 children. And at the time, during the British rule of India, he was a judge and.
He was a judge in the court system, but he was a very great spiritual, compassionate lover of all beings and of God who he called Krishna and he wrote probably 100 books and thousands of beautiful poems.
And one line really affected me. He wrote that wherever there is the greatest necessity. There's the greatest opportunity to serve.
So, yes, when we see that apparent insurmountable problems within the world, who are we, just little people to make a difference?
We could become very depressed. Or we could just ignore the problems as far as possible so we could just go on with our life.
But there's another way of saying where we see these serious problems, we see an opportunity to try to make a difference and making a difference in the world like life itself is not just about quantity. It's about quality. Whether we make a tiny little difference or whether they make an enormous difference in the estimation of people really doesn't make any difference what's important, what gives our life quality. And the real contribution we can give to the world is our intent and how we're applying that attent intent to what we do in our life.
So, yes, there's big problems in the world, but that gives each and every one of us a wonderful opportunity to help, to transform. To make the world a better place. The power of grace. Is so deep, there's no greater power and even the littlest person, if we can connect to that grace within ourselves, we could do great things for the world, whether it's helping one person or 10 people or 10 million people.
If we're an instrument of grace, any little progress we make. Is tremendous. Absolutely, absolutely, and you've encountered on your journey towards making that change, you've encountered so many difficult situations, so many challenges, so many near-death experiences that you talk about the journey home, so many moments where things were completely going wrong, what's given you in life?
What's giving you the resilience and the grit to kind of keep pushing on, like what has been that driving force and that motivating force that despite all of these really deadly situations, you've found a way to to continue to move forward when most of us would give up?
Well, if I if I am to be completely honest, I don't really know how to do anything very well.
But that's a blessing in my life, because in difficult situations, I really try to sincerely take shelter of a higher power, the power of grace, the power of of of God's presence within the hearts of all beings and within the heart of myself. And when I take shelter of that, I am willing to be an instrument of that grace. Then sometimes wonderful things could happen even through me, but they could happen to everyone.
It takes it takes a lot it takes a lot to do that, to recognize the need to recognize that we can access that grace today.
There's a lot of talk about self-love in the world and self care. And we hear these themes a lot because people are struggling to give because they're like, well, I don't even have you know, I don't I don't feel good. How can I give? And we're trying to find good everywhere or trying to fill ourselves up.
But actually, I've seen in your life you've often given even what you didn't have for yourself, like you've tried to facilitate for others what you may not even have had in your journey. And I've always found that fascinating by observing your work and your life, that you've constantly gone out of your way to give other people the facilities that even you never had access to. And when I observed, I just think, wow, that's such a beautiful way to live, because even the studies show that when we serve, even if we're in a bad position, our mental health increases, our happiness increases, our joy increases.
Even if we're struggling when we choose to help someone else, it actually benefits us immediately as well. So even when we're in a tough situation, we can still find a way to give and that will actually benefit us back. So. A cellular phone many people are familiar with. Yeah, definitely they can perform so many functions.
But they can't perform any function properly unless they're charged through.
So it's really important that we put some time aside to charge our own hearts, our own minds, our own consciousness through being with enlightening people, putting time aside to really cultivate enlightenment, positive thought, connection with the divine, with God within our hearts. When we when we become spiritually charged like that, then values, character and compassion can be infused in whatever we're doing in our life.
It's important that we can't give something we don't have.
So when when when we're with uplifting people, like watching your show Chasity, it infuses people with positive energy, with a positive outlook in the world.
When we're with people or we have some, whether it's through books or social media or personal exchanges, people who uplift us, who bring us closer.
To the love that's within ourselves, who opened the doors to actually understand the beauty of God within ourselves and everyone. We become charged. And then we actually see how whether we're in business or entertainment or whether we're monks or anything else, whether we're fathers or mothers or students, we can make a difference in the world, a wonderful difference and individually. And collectively, a few like minded people who have high spiritual values can make a tremendous impact toward peace, toward love and compassion in the world, we should never be discouraged.
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Yeah, we have to fill our own batteries if we want to charge others up. And, and that's, that's a beautiful reminder to us all. And actually that's why I love spending time with you. I really feel that as humans we're all operating on different frequencies and different vibrations and most of us are exposed to people who are at the same vibration in the same frequency. So I live here in L.A. and Hollywood and naturally I have some wonderful friends.
But there's a frequency and a vibration in New York has a frequency and a vibration. But then when I'm spending time with you and spending time with other people that are enlightened or living with higher values and a deeper purpose than that forces us to upgrade. Just as I you know, I've heard you say before that, you know, an analogy would be that if you want to become a millionaire or a billionaire, you have to spend time in those circles.
And so if you want to be someone who's living on higher values and higher frequencies, then we have to spend time with people of higher frequencies and vibrations. And I definitely feel that with you. And it's one of the reasons why I try my best to spend as much time with you as I can, because for me, that's such an important way to be reminded of what's really important and to experience it. And I think that's what we don't have enough of in the world, is we may be reminded, but we don't experience.
And when you experience it through a person, that frequency is the most penetrating to the heart and it really uplifts. And so I would encourage anyone who's listening and watching right now to really try and spend time with that frequency and that vibration. Of course, you can do it through video and audio, but when you can be in the presence of someone, I think it's it's truly something that has to be lived through and experienced. It's not something theoretical that you can you can kind of do sitting in a laboratory or sitting in your home.
You have to go out there and find it. So thank you for for being there in my life for sure. As some of you you definitely heard that in my life, I'm not much of anything, but I do like to serve.
It's amazing what one of the things that I see and I'm asking you things that I feel I've been asked by my audience and I really feel that you can shed more light light on it.
So one of the biggest things I see today is that there's just such a. You know, hurt people, hurt people, so there's so many people in the world today who have been hurt and now because of that hurt that they've received, they're giving out hurt. And that creates a very vicious cycle that keeps perpetuating itself.
And so the challenges that a lot of people have to figure out how to heal from that hurt they're receiving, a lot of people now have to figure out how to forgive. And so I would love to ask from your perspective, how have you learned in your life to heal from pain others have caused you? Or have you seen that people have best been able to forgive and let go pain and hurt they've received from other people? Because I think we're carrying this weight and burden of pain and hurt and then eventually we have to give it off to someone else.
So how do we actually purify and and get rid of that pain? What from your experience, anyone that you've advised or anything you've seen, how do we learn to forgive? In a building, however high, rebuilt, however ornamented it may be, it is being built upon a foundation.
If a foundation is very strong, then even if earthquakes come to speak of windstorms, storms and sandstorms and snowstorms, it will remain if we build our house on a weak foundation when the storm comet collapses.
So it's important that through the company we keep.
Where there is positive energy, an example is the recovery programs, 12 step programs and people who have been alcoholics or drug addicts when they're with each other and they get the strength to resist those deep temptations that are still there.
Like the redwood trees, the redwood trees keep growing even in the worst of storms and earthquakes, because the roots, the roots of the redwood trees they reach out to embrace and intertwined with the roots of other trees.
And this way, every tree in the forest is being supported by every other tree in the forest.
That's a foundation, hmm. So it's important through the company we keep and through.
Through the path of inner discovery and spirituality that we can actually make a deeper connection to inner happiness, inner meaning, inner purpose, and that's a foundation when we when we connect to that. Then the pain that we inevitably endure. Especially pains of betrayal and abuse. It's it's it's very difficult, it can make us depressed. Mm hmm. It can make us angry and vengeful. Or it could help us to recognize other people who are enduring that pain and give us a very, very special opportunity to know what they're going through and help them.
So for looking for the opportunity to help others, because we understand what they're going through, then it could transform our life from something that's that's destructive to something that's constructive. Yeah, absolutely, it's a great example you gave, actually, because this building that we're in right now, I was here during the earthquakes and I felt them for much less time because this building actually has roller skates underneath. I was told said the building during the earthquake actually has the flexibility and adaptability to move a little left and right to to deal with.
The foundation is built that way so that they can actually deal with the shock. And I thought that was such an interesting way of looking at it. Now you're making me look at it from a from a spiritual point of view.
I didn't think of it when I first heard it, but just having that adaptability and flexibility and one sense, the idea of yoga, we often think of it as a physical thing to make us more flexible.
But actually, yoga is meant to go deep and give us a frame of mind, harmonize the body, the mind, the intelligence with the heart and with the living force, the soul.
And when we have that foundation, then we become very flexible when situations come even the most difficult situations, we learn how to adjust and make a positive difference in our own life and our loved ones and for the world. And that's really the idea of yoga. That's the idea of spirituality. That's the the purpose of religion. Yeah. To make that connection within ourselves and to be with communities of people who help us to value that inner transformation actually makes it also possible.
And then we adjust ourselves to whatever storm may come and live in such a way that we could be instruments of peace. Absolutely. Absolutely, and I think it's important when we're training ourselves in that way for flexibility and adaptability, I find that the reason why we struggle with flexibility and adaptability is we're trying to hold on so hard to something that's trying to change, like we're trying to keep things the same when things are trying to change.
We're just trying so hard to hold on when you're holding on to something that's moving and then you're shaking with it as well. And and I find that flexibility and adaptability comes from when we realize that everything has to change, everything has to move. And hopefully that spiritual realization allows us to to move a little bit every day to just recognize that things aren't going to stay the same. And we start developing that that flexibility and adaptability. And this is all my thoughts on you and everything you're sharing here in California.
When I'm driving, I see people surfing on the ocean, something we don't do so much in the Himalayas, because I know, boy, surfing is like life.
The wave is flowing and the surfer can't change the wave.
The surfer has to adjust herself or himself in such a way that we can stay on top of the wave and keep moving forward.
So whatever may happen in life, in the ocean of life, there are so many different kind of waves that will come and we have control over some things, but ultimately we don't have much control. We have to start growing old. Sometimes we get disease, sometimes people onerous. Sometimes they dishonor us, sometimes as pleasure and pain. There's heat, there's cold. There's all these things are always changing in this world. It's the nature of the world.
Dualities and changes and greatness and life is is is not just the quantity of how much we accumulate, but how we remain. We maintain our character, our integrity, our compassion. And we're living with love.
That's that's real wealth. Unfortunately, people are so much obsessed with external forms of wealth. But oftentimes we can have so much power, so much control, so much property and money, but we're like in poverty within. Yeah, we don't have inner satisfaction, inner fulfillment, real wealth.
Is to love and to be loved. Things can give some degree of satisfaction to the mind and senses, but only love can give satisfaction to the heart and our real experience in life is our heart.
But sometimes our heart is crying, crying for inner fulfillment.
And and we try to deal with it by just running outside and and trying to find so many alternatives. Yes, but we never really do.
So inner wealth needs to be harmonized with our pursuit for outer wealth. It's not one or the other.
It's a it's it's a synthesis of inner growth as well as, you know, trying to grow outside of ourselves.
So a good surfer adjusts to the waves so that he or she could just keep moving forward. And life is very much like that. Yeah, I love that example. That's a really wonderful analogy in a way to look at it because you're spot on. You can't control the wave. You can't try and say, oh, I want the wave to happen in the same way as it did last time. And I hope we see that wave again. You can keep thinking like that, but it's very unlikely that that wave will repeat itself in exactly the same way.
And so unless we're adaptable and we're aware and we're observing, that wave will just, you know, can take us down.
Sometimes those waves come by how other people treat us by how the society in the world and the politics are, or sometimes the waves are within our own minds.
You know, we have habits of the past, conditioned experiences of the past. And sometimes they're like tsunamis.
Yeah. That could really invoke very, very detrimental actions and words.
We have to learn by by having a good foundation, by having a connection to higher values, purpose and satisfaction. Then whatever waves come externally or within our own minds, they actually help us to move forward.
Hmm. Absolutely. That's beautiful. I love that, however, that that when you were making that point about inner and outer wealth and I was thinking about one of the biggest challenges in the world, today's comparison and comparing. And we see now that we live in a world where we're exposed to everyone's success. So when you look on social media and you see what car people are driving or what home people live in or what beautiful holidays and vacations people are going on, and envy and comparison just seem to be such strong emotion where we like what you were saying.
We always feel like, you know, internally poor, we feel poor, both externally and internally and in a in a deeper sense.
How can people start the foundation examples? Beautiful. How can we start to stop comparing ourselves to others?
How have you advised others in the past to stop comparing their experience of life and what they're getting in their life to what others are getting? There is that famous saying, which I believe you have spoken many times, that if. A fish. Is evaluated by how it can climb a tree, then that fish is going to feel self very stupid throughout his life and a fish, his ability to swim a monkey's ability is to climb a tree.
And each and every one of us is unique.
Each and every one of us has a sacred, beautiful purpose that we can contribute to the world, and as we said before, it's not a matter of the quantity.
If we have the capacity to do something with great quantity and we built it on the foundation of a quality value of life, then that's wonderful.
There's a story in Lord Rom's, Leila Ron was an incarnation of God, and he was one of his devotees, Hannaman, who was very, very powerful, great, great devotee.
He was building a bridge across an ocean by making big rocks float. So Honeyman was carrying a gigantic mountain peak.
And as he was walking, there was a little spider in front of him. And that spider was doing the best he could do to help build the bridge forum by kicking one grain of sand at a time with his little tiny legs.
He was trying so hard and he was in handyman's way. Rahm said to Hannaman that that spider is doing the best she can and you're doing the best you can in my eyes. What you are both doing is equal. Because the greatness of life is we're doing what we can with what we have. When we compare ourselves to others, it should be. To learn lessons in life and not to not to be arrogant because I'm better or to be jealous, envious or depressed because I'm not as good.
Mm. These are all very, very wasteful distractions to the human mind. The more we find satisfaction and inner peace and in our love, in our own heart, the more we are truly trying to be a well-wisher to others. Real enlightenment doesn't mean being from this particular religion or this particular organization, real enlightenment is when we really see others with equal vision and we become a well-wisher because we see everyone as a child from the same sources we are.
So this tendency to compare ourselves to others, whether it's in beauty or wealth or fame or power or athletic abilities or it's it's simply a distraction from real happiness, real peace and real meaning in life.
Each of us is special. Each of us is a sacred child of the all beautiful supreme source of everything, and if we just try our best with the right intent. To be in the mood of service to God, in service to others. That is a historical success in life. Absolutely, and 100 percent, that's a beautiful, beautiful answer to understanding that I think so often we're just measuring ourselves on someone else's metrics and it doesn't make sense when you're measuring yourself by someone else's standards of success and someone else's internal potential and not realizing our own.
So often we're just so oblivious because we've never taken the time to get to know what potential we truly have in the human body.
The lungs cannot do what the kidneys do, but it's not that the kidneys are thinking that I can't breathe and provide oxygen like the lungs do.
That's not what the kidneys do.
The kidney understands the contribution that it is making to the body.
And when each part of the body, you know, whatever a profession, whatever our position, when each part of the body of human society appreciates the value of what we contribute, then we can also appreciate what others contribute to.
Absolutely. Amazing. Can you remember a time in your life when you think that you may have failed and how you overcame that failure? I know I've heard you many times tell tell stories of failure and struggle in so many ways from spiritual texts and also from real life. Like, can you think of a time in your life when you feel that you failed and that you had to overcome it or somehow learn something from it? And what did you learn from that failure, actually?
Failing is healthy because it humbles me to to actually appreciate other people's success, and it also humbles me to find shelter and the higher power that's within all of us.
So I'll give an example that's just crossing my mind now that when I went on this journey to the east, I was supposed to come home after two months.
It was just a summer trip after one semester of college that I was in Europe and my parents didn't hear from me.
And I think it was four months later, they got a letter from Iran, from the deserts of Iran saying I decided to hitchhike to India. And of course, there was no return address because I didn't have any address.
So years went by where every now and then I just sent them a little letter telling them I was still alive.
Can you imagine what a mother and father are thinking when their teenage son is away from home in these mysterious places?
So I really failed my parents in that sense, but it gave me the impetus to really try to make it up to them. And, you know, you know, through really trying to understand them more than I ever did in my life and to help them to understand me. And and gradually our relationship became just absolutely incredible.
That's a really beautiful example, actually. I think so many of us can definitely identify with that, not that we were in Iran and not writing back to our parents that I think we can all identify with, not getting to understand our parents and not giving them an opportunity to understand us.
Even in close proximity, you had a good reason why you weren't in touch with them, you didn't have cell phones, there was no email, there was there was no way you could connect them without writing them a letter. And today, I know so many of us struggle to stay in touch with our parents, even when you can literally just pick up the phone or go and visit them. Another apparent failure is. Sometimes. There's things I have to get done, projects that have to be accomplished, that I don't give proper attention and time, you know, to those people who, you know, are very, very important in my life.
And that's something that, you know, we have I learned from I learn balance, balance really as an art of life and balancing our occupational duties or our projects with our health, with our family and loved ones, and with our own spiritual world, with our own spiritual progress. Failure is a stepping stone to greater success if we learn from our mistakes and grow with our mistakes. Those are both wonderful examples, I think we all know that the one where squeezed in under pressure, we don't spend time or we actually give the worst of ourselves sometimes as well.
I know that I'm definitely a failure that often where if I'm squeezed or if I'm in a difficult situation, people don't get the best of me. And and I think that's where I always feel like I'm failing because I know I can give a better me to that person or to that interaction. But actually they're getting a much lower me because I'm prioritizing all these other things. And so that's something that I always keep in mind of when I start seeing myself treat people in ways that I don't that I know are not me.
That's when I know that I'm imbalanced. It's a really good sign and signal to me that I need to go and reflect and take some time because I'm now behaving or saying something or snapping or being being, you know, just just speaking to people in a way that I know isn't the me I can be and that I truly am. And that's definitely something to thank you for making me reflect on that, too. Definitely. Sometimes it's not just that we're not giving time to people.
We're not giving the best of our time to people. They're getting the worst of us. Thank you. So one of the things I really wanted to focus on when you brought up projects and you were managing projects and people don't often realize that monks also manage projects. They don't realize that Swami's have deadlines and objectives and goals in one sense. And having seen you build again, it's also important to recognize that Monkshood Swami's don't build projects or goals for themselves, the building goals and projects and objectives, the service.
And so you've built hospitals, schools, food distribution programs. The ecovillage, which I've visited several times actually over the last ten years and seen it go from seeing it as just woods. And now when I was just there this January, seeing it evolve into this beautiful demonstration as to how sustainable living can be and can look.
And I wanted to start off first as a more broad, high level of where I want to start.
First is where why did you feel so moved to get involved in philanthropy, which now has evolved into environmentalism as well. Why were those things so important to you personally? Why did you feel the need to become an activist in that space? One of my greatest inspirations. Is my spiritual teacher or guru, Sheila Prabhupada, who taught that everything within this creation is potentially spiritual, the difference between material and spiritual is our perception. Is a knife good or bad if a knife is in the hands of a thief?
We'll kill someone to rob them if that same knife is in the hands of a surgeon, we'll use it to save a person's life. So the things of this world when they're used in harmony with our true spirit and with with God's compassion, then all the things of this world have a very, very.
Positive use, but if we're seeing this world as something for me to exploit and enjoy at the expense of others, then the same thing becomes negative or destructive. So when we understand the spiritual potential and we have a grateful heart. Then we'll recognise every drop of water that's falling from the sky. It's necessary for life. The sunshine is necessary for life. The earth is necessary for life. It's it's God's gift to us. And our ecovillage, we apply this idea that everything is sacred property and therefore to respect and live in a way that nourishes the environment rather than depletes the environment is.
It is inherently spiritual. Mm hmm. And when we understand that everyone is God's children, we understand that everyone is interdependent with each other and everyone is interdependent with the environment around us.
So we're walking on the ground and most of us, we just walk on the ground and we don't really think much of it, but if we have grateful hearts, we recognise.
The gift of the ground, so we've learned through traditional methods aligned with modern science, also how to take the earth from the ground and make compressed bricks.
Which has less than one percent the impact on the environment as regular bricks, we just compress the little water and they're supposed to last for over 100 years or more.
And we've we built our homes from these bricks and they're beautiful and they keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and it's a way of just taking what nature is giving us and utilizing it when it rains where we are.
It rains for about four months and then for eight months, it's a total drought. So if we're if we understand the value of water during the monsoon, rainy season, we harvest as much of that water as possible and then that water is utilized throughout the rest of the year for the homes as well as for the agricultural fields.
The water, scientifically, we understand it's not only sprinkling on top of the ground, but it's channeled in such a way that it keeps the wells and the underground table of water filled. Every one of us, whoever we are, whatever race, whatever our religion, whatever our no religion, whatever our economic situation may be, we all have certain things in common. One is we have to eat. And the next stage after eating is digestion and the next stage is elimination, so we all have to evacuate.
And when we evacuate, it doesn't look much different. So whatever our social economic role may be in society, so it goes in the toilet and we flush it and then we just forget about it.
We're not really conscious of where it's going or the effect it's happening in the world. Sewage is a huge problem in this world. Because we're seeing sewage as waste. From a spiritual perspective, we see we're trying to see everything's potential value. Sewage has tremendous value, so we develop the Simbi Symbiotic biotechnology plant where you flush the toilet and by gravity it goes into a pond and then and from that pond, it's it's pumped through solar power to this structure that we have.
And there it's sprinkled and by gravity that that sewage water just goes down through through certain types of soil and roots and stones and different types of bacterias and different types of the worms we put there. And by the time it goes down and gets to the bottom, it's clean water. Then it gets picked up again and it goes down and it becomes very pure water. It could be it could be put back into the system of the plumbing or it could be super excellent water for the fields.
But in the process where it's being refined, that area is a paradise. We have several hundred papaya trees on our property, but up there where the sewage is being refined, the papayas are about twice the size. Well, in fact, some teachers from New York came there and they they said this is not a papaya. This is a poopy.
And up there, they're such luxurious growth of jasmines and roses and wonderful flowers.
And this is what's happening through the process of natural sewage refinement, where it's bringing the water to a natural, clear state and where it's happening.
It's a beautiful garden. And actually, every time you flush the toilet after you utilize it, you're making the flowers bloom sweeter. Fragrance. And the pirates are getting bigger. So this is a principle with Mother Earth, you know, we need something like the urine of cows, there is ways of making that cow urine into incredibly effective pesticides to put on our plants, you know, to so that insects are not attracted instead of chemicals which can poison us and be detrimental to the top soil of the earth if it replenishes.
And there are many, many different ways when we explore it.
How, through natural methods, we could be restoring Mother Earth with all of this, with all of the situations that we make think of as waste or problematic.
So our eco is on the basis of this spiritual principle that God has given us so much and being having grateful hearts to see how everything and everyone is interconnected and how everything and everyone is an invaluable asset.
That's amazing. I love that principle of not saying anything is negative or waste, and when you see it as valuable, you're able to create it into incredible things, which is just unheard of. Right. Like we just like you said, we just throw it away. We have another, you know, land pile of different things and we don't recognize where it's going or what it's useful for. But actually, all of it can be reused and recreated into papaya, fruits and flowers and so many amazing things.
It's really, really extraordinary that, of course, we're speaking about the ecology, but also among human beings when we recognize and appreciate the potential and someone we can bring out the best in the. Otherwise, if we're just saying that people have problems. People have made mistakes, if we only focus on that, then usually we just make them worse. And it's it takes it's a tremendous liability on society at large.
But when we see a potential buyer, which through education, through proper, you know, culture, we can bring out the best in people and by bringing out the best in people, that's the greatest power to actually overcome the weaknesses in people.
Amazing. It's incredible. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you so much and I hope everyone listening will take an opportunity to go visit as well and and get to experience it for themselves. It's amazing. So we've reached the stage of the interview where we usually do the final five. These are the final five questions which are usually answered with one word to one sentence. I'll let you expand as you feel.
But the first question is, if you could change one thing about the education system, what would that one thing be? Yes. Joe. Encourage a person. To live by their potential and to be happy. Wonderful.
Question number two, if you could have everyone in the world do one practice every single day, what practice would you give them to do? It could be a value, a quality, a hobby. It could be anything. It could be any practice. To recognize unity and diversity. Wow, that's amazing. Absolutely.
Number three, what's the one thing people can do to attain more peace and calm every day to experience peace and come to reconnect with our true self and my tradition, we chant God's name is to do that.
Wonderful. Question number four, what would you say you've been? I was trying to do the math. I think I'm right. You've been meditating for definitely over 50 years and and for countless hours each day in different meditation traditions. What would you say is the number one thing that you've gained through through meditating for over 50 years? A connection with a love that's beyond me, God's love, and to share that love through compassion. It's beautiful. You're probably the only person who's really stuck to the one sentence France.
This is very impressive. Fifth and final question is if you could advise world leaders, influencers, people who have an impact in the world today, if you could leave them with a message, what would that message be for them? Character? What leaders do becomes the standard that the society pursues. We need leaders on all levels, parents, politicians, business leaders, education leaders who live with integrity, with character.
To understand that our true joy in life is to serve. To be a servant leader, a well-wisher who's really trying to bring the best out in others by our personal example. Amazing. Thank you so much for having us. You're an absolute joy to be with. I'm so genuinely and deeply fortunate that I get to spend so much time with you and get to receive so much of your guidance and presence in my life. I know for a fact that anyone is listening and watching just by hearing His Holiness speak.
And hopefully you've been able to feel the presence and energy that I feel whenever I'm around him, through his words, through his advice. I can definitely say that he's someone that over the years I've seen him surrounded by thousands of people and I've seen him one to one. And he's one of the few people that I could say is exactly the same in both scenarios. And for me, that that's a real deep sign of character and integrity is when someone is exactly the same, whether they're, you know, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people and then incredibly influential spaces and then being one on one, you know, he's he's just the same incredible human being.
And I'm so fortunate that I met you in my life. I'm really genuinely so happy. And I hope that all of you got to experience that through this interview. I'd love for you to recommend to go and follow His Holiness rather than sell me on Facebook. It's rather than a swami on Instagram. It's a rather than a swami as well. And on Twitter, on all platforms of social media. It's of course, he's not there tweeting and sharing them as it's people from his team who are sharing his work through those platforms.
But definitely, if you want to add some enlightenment, some spirituality and energy to your feed, then go ahead and follow those channels right now as well. But rather, that's for me. Thank you so much for this opportunity. And for those of you who are really fascinated with the work, you can also check out the journey home and the journey within two of a rather than Swami's books. The Journey Home is his autobiography, which I recommend reading first and the journey within his lessons that you can actually practice on your path towards service and towards growth.
So, again, we're so grateful to have you here and we're really, really deeply appreciative of everyone who's been listening and watching the whole way through, wishing you and sending you so many beautiful prayers and meditations to each and every single one of you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you, Chad. Hi, I'm Nick Slavophiles, and I want to invite you guys to give our show a listen if you're looking to fall in love with a new podcast, I'm someone who's been around the block and in my relationships in life, and I've certainly learned a lot about myself and in relationships.
And we spent a lot of time on our show talking about social dynamics and interpersonal relationships. We have two great shows for you to check out our Asked Nick episodes on Monday. Our callers call in, they share their problems, their questions, and I decide to share my insight, my opinions. And some people seem to find it helpful. Sometimes I surprise myself and on Wednesdays, check us out where we have a more traditional show with all sorts of types of guests, experts, personalities, actors, athletes, interesting people, and just have some insightful conversations where we learn about life, love and all things that you can possibly imagine.
We will look forward to seeing you there. You can do anything you put your mind to, so why would a school make you pick just one thing, show you only one way to think one major, one focus. One way to look at the world as if anyone is only one thing life isn't. Let's all stay in our lanes if you want to aim high. You've got to learn higher. Allegheny College. Learn outside the lines. Discover what's possible at mind over major dotcom.