Before the publication of his widely acclaimed book, "The Journey Home", Radhanath Swami talked with writer Joshua Greene at length about what prompted him to write the book and also the circumstances around which he took a daring trip to India in the 1960s. The interview also touched around the aspect of religion and renunciation - and reveal answers which are enlightening and broad. Some Excerpts from the interview.
Joshua Greene : Why do so many people seem to regard religion as the enemy of progressive human culture?
Radhanath Swami: There is a Sanskrit word saragrahi, which means one who seeks the essence in every situation. If we have an honest and sincere desire to grow in our character, in our devotion, our enlightenment, then we will always find the way to do so.
For those teachers who are honest and pure and true in what they teach and how they live, we can gain great inspiration and great knowledge and wisdom. But when we see there is hypocrisy or contradiction between what a person teaches and the real purpose of the message, there is also much to learn from that: to learn what we should be on guard against, to see how even religious leaders fall into pitfalls, the same essential as for all of us in different ways, and how we should be on guard and careful to protect ourselves from those pitfalls. We can learn and acquire great wisdom from properly applying spiritual truths to the mistakes of others, both today and throughout history. And those lessons are essential.
Q: You chose to become a renunciant. Do you recommend the path of renunciation?
Radhanath Swami: Real spiritual life is not necessarily about changing our position in society. It is about transforming our hearts. One can be in business, in education, a mother or father, a farmer, a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a politician. One can even be a swami. But when we overcome selfishness and learn the beauty and art of selflessness—seva or selfless service—spirituality is meant to transform arrogance into humility, greed into generosity, vengeance into forgiveness, hate into love, criticism into appreciation, hopeless into hopefulness—it is meant to transform us into becoming instruments of the inner peace that is in our heart with God.
That is real journey home. The journey of transformation, of understanding that there is a power beyond our own, the power of God that can enthuse us, inspire us and empower us to be real instruments of change.
...To be continued....