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How to find a spiritual connection | Radhanath Swami | TEDxSquareMile

Transcriber: Peter van de Ven Reviewer: Tanya Cushman

It is truly an honor and a pleasure to be with all of you today.

From a spiritual perspective,

the perilous condition of the world today

is caused, at it's root,

when we as human beings are disconnected from our true selves.

With technology,

the world has never been so connected externally -

we have Internet, social media,

cellular phones, satellite televisions -

yet today's news is predominated by terrorism,

oppression, abuse, social conflict

and warnings of environmental disasters.

Yet each and everyone of us

can be the change we want to see in the world

if we use our free will

with a higher connection.

The problems that we face

when it is seen through the perspective of universal wisdom,

we understand to see every particular challenge

in connection with a holistic, larger perspective.

Whatever we do,

how will it affect ourselves?

How will it affect the local area?

How will it affect the world?

Learning from the past,

the present

and the effect for the future.

This type of wisdom

is really born of compassion.

Perhaps this is the greatest need

in all of human society.

Where there is compassion,

there's enough wealth,

there's enough skill,

there's enough education

because it will be provided.

Years ago, I was with Mother Theresa,

and she told me a very universal principle.

She said, "The greatest problem in the world is hunger.

Not hunger of the belly.

If you give somebody food, they'll be satisfied.

But in London, in New York, in Los Angeles, in Mumbai

even the wealthiest persons,

their hearts are starving."

And that starvation creates greed,

envy,

arrogance,

anger.

Only to find the love that is within ourselves

can really be a solution.

And the origin of that love,

from a spiritual perspective,

is to feel God's love

and to be an instrument of that love

in whatever we do,

whether we're accountants,

whether we're in business,

finance, politics, agriculture

or whether we're little swamis.

When we have a foundation of inner peace,

inner compassion,

then the joy of life

is not simply accumulating more and more things.

The joy of life is expressing our compassion in whatever we do.

Through technology,

such incredible connections people have.

Usually, by this time in any lecture I'm giving,

so many cell phones have been ringing,

wherever we are.

I remember one time I was in India,

and I called my father,

and after we talked, he said, "Do you know where I am?"

And I said, "No."

He said, "I'm on the ninth hole of a golf course, sitting on a toilet."

(Laughter)

I said, "I thought you were home."

So, that's how we're connected with anybody, anywhere at any time.

(Laughter)

But look

how people with very unfortunate evil intentions

are networking and spreading their cause

throughout the world.

And at the same time,

people who are proponents of true peace and love

can use the same technology.

So the great need

is to address our problems

in a sustainable way

if we want to have a truly positive effect.

Sustainable

means internal change requires,

has to go in harmony with external change.

People's behavior,

values

and philosophies

need to be uplifted.

In the Bhagavad Gita, there's a beautiful verse

which gives us a clue of how,

when we make that internal connection,

we naturally realize and understand our true connection with each other

and with the world around us.

In Sanskrit the verse is -

(Speaking in Sanskrit)

(Speaking in Sanskrit)

That real wisdom,

the symptom of a real spiritual connection,

is not just what religion we call ourselves

or how many verses we can cite to prove our cause.

True spirituality

is to see every living being with equal vision.

Because when we know our self,

when we understand that divine spark of life

of who I truly am,

then we can recognize that in all others.

We don't just see people as male or female or black, white, red, yellow or brown,

or from one religion or another religion or no religion.

When we understand the love of God,

we understand every living being as a child of that same source.

Whether one is a human or an elephant or a dog or a cat or a cow,

wherever there is life, there is a sentient being

who's seeking pleasure

and who deserves our respect

and our compassion.

This is real progress in society,

progress of our level of consciousness.

There are many different spiritual paths in this world,

but there are three principles that we especially emphasize

to make that inner connection.

"Satsang,"

which means to associate with like-minded people

who really inspire us for that purpose.

"Sādhanā,"

which is keeping some special precious time every day

to internally nourish us to keep that connection

through a spiritual practice -

maybe meditation, prayer.

In our tradition we chant God's names,

these beautiful mantras.

And when we chant together, it's called "sankirtan."

We are harmonizing our hearts

with a divine focus.

And "sadachar" -

sadachar means our character.

There's no use

in claiming to be spiritual

if we're not transforming arrogance into humility,

greed into generosity,

despair into hope

and hate into love.

These are really the great needs in this world.

And when that compassion

is awakened from within us,

it becomes dynamic, active.

In Sanskrit, a word for compassion is "Karuṇā,"

which means directed, intelligent, active compassion

that's thoughtful and committed.

"Para-dukha-dukhi,"

my guru Srila Prabhupada used to teach.

Compassion is when another person's suffering is my suffering,

when another person's happiness is my happiness.

And that naturally will extend to the environment

because we are all depending

on the same natural gifts.

Whoever we are,

from any nation, from any religion, from any social background,

we're depending on the same sun,

the same source of rain,

the same earth to grow our foods,

the same waters in the rivers and the oceans.

Compassion to humanity, compassion to other living beings,

is inseparable from our compassion to the environment.

At our community in Mumbai,

we started an ecovillage.

And by doing so,

we've discovered so many beautiful ...

understandings of how connected everything really is.

We walk on the ground.

We learn that from that same soil that we're walking on,

we can make bricks to make our homes.

We've made over 350,000 bricks:

we compressed them,

we'd dried them in the sun - no fire.

They're beautiful,

and traditionally,

they could last for centuries.

Water - water is falling from the sky,

but if we're really grateful to understand the value of water,

we will harvest it according to our capacity.

And wherein Maharashtra,

there's eight months of drought every year -

if we just harvest the water when it comes,

we have tanks

that collect 15 million gallons of water

within a week of rains.

The sun -

through solar power,

we can have all the facilities of the city

with the power of the sun that's shining for everyone always.

Of course, in England you can't always see it.

(Laughter)

It's still always there.

The earth, the ground -

by growing organic, natural foods

without harmful pesticides or fertilizers,

food grows actually better;

it's more nutritious,

and the soil becomes so enriched by it.

In the world, sewage is a problem

because whoever you are,

whether you are a billionaire or whether you're sleeping in the streets,

still

after you eat, you respond to nature,

and it kind of comes out the same way.

So what to do with it?

When we understand the inner connection of how the world works,

then we can understand actually how ...

there's no such thing as waste

if we're conscious.

Through natural processes of herbs and roots and stones,

the sewage becomes very pure, clean water,

and we can utilize all those facilities.

All our cooking is done with the dung of cows.

The idea is when we have a compassionate spirit

toward the environment and toward each other,

there is no end

to how we can use our incredibly God-given human intelligence

to make real sustainable positive changes toward an enlightened world.

To come out of the cradle,

where everything is taking and taking and taking,

and growing into that mature state,

where we understand and appreciate the joy of giving,

of loving,

that is real progress,

that is where we can really connect

with God,

with each other,

and actually make the world something beautiful.

Whether we do it in a small way or a big way,

we all have that opportunity

and we all have that responsibility.

Thank you very much.

(Applause)