In Pursuit of Pleasure

I have met some really extraordinary people over the years who have shaped my life and filled my heart with deep joy. Last year I was introduced to Gauri Das who is the Managing Director at Bhaktivedanta Manor. This is the Hare Krishna Temple that was donated by George Harrison (from The Beatles) in the 1970s. Gauri and I have struck up an unlikely friendship – he is one of the kindest and gentlest men I have met. Recently he invited me to attend a small and informal gathering at the House of Commons to listen to His Holiness Radhanath Swami, a globally renowned monk.

His Holiness has mingled with presidents from different nations, spoken at some of the world’s largest organisations and his book was a New York Times Best Seller. Yet in this man’s quest to bring ancient wisdom into modern day lives he spent years as a penniless hitch-hiker travelling across Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally India. His philanthropic projects currently feed 300,000 starving children every day. Gauri explained to me that Radhanath is a humble man living in a continual state of deep gratitude for his life of spiritual servitude.

As I entered the room, I was dazzled by the eclectic array of guests. Former famous models sat next to spiritually informed corporate leaders. Former wives of rock stars sat next to students. Politicians sat next to monks. The atmosphere was filled with an electricity of anticipation acting as a unifying bond between us. We were all waiting for this great man to arrive.

Radhanath Swami’s presence was felt before he entered the room causing the small audience to stand as a mark of respect. I was instantly imbued by this man’s humility. Dressed in orange robes, more suitable for the temperatures of Mumbai, he looked strangely at home amongst the guests dressed in winter coats to combat the freezing temperatures of the night.

It felt as if he was walking within an iridescent bubble of sacred energy that radiated love and compassion from every pore in his body. Everyone appeared visibly touched by his energy and soft gravitas. Having devoted my life to the study of authentic charisma, His Holiness simply shone without having to speak or do anything. Just being in the room with him was revivifying.

As he started speaking, the outside corridor became noisy with loud raucous laughter from individuals who had probably drunk just a little too much. Yet His Holiness did not seem at all disturbed by this and continued to speak quietly in hushed tones. Remarkably his softness became louder than any external noise and every word he spoke was felt by my heart. I was utterly mesmerised, unable to take notes, simply bathing in his loving energy. What he spoke about resonated with me at a deep level.

What you are about to read has been inspired by the words of His Holiness Radhanath Swami. I hope that I am able to do justice to the power of his message and apologise if some of the meaning has been lost in translation. If he were with me now as I write this, I believe he would smile encouragingly and tell me to “speak my truth because we are all special”.

We live in a materialistic world. Many strive to accumulate wealth, achievements, qualifications, status, possessions, houses, cars, watches, stocks and shares, paintings, designer clothes. The pursuit of things is driven by a desire to access and feel pleasure. The smell of leather seats in a brand new car will cause a thrill of delicious satisfaction. Yet this feeling is transient, after a few weeks, a few months it fades and we are left feeling incomplete, dissatisfied, wanting more. We may then look for a better car or a different house or a fitter partner. Ultimate ‘things’ will never give sustainable pleasure to our hearts despite what we believe. Love is the only thing that provides heart quenching pleasure.

What a message for business leaders to receive! Imagine a leadership team within a large organisation being collectively motivated by love? When we extend love outside of ourselves we become soothed by a state of compassion and grace. Our energy softens so that others feel safe and protected just being around us. When we see that everyone and everything that exists on this planet is special, sacred and totally unique we operate with higher levels of respect and integrity. We become less obsessed by the: ‘But what about me?’ And more focused upon the collective: ‘What does this mean for our community?’ ‘What implications does my action have for the planet?’

It is the essence of human dignity to earn with integrity, to spend with compassion and to live our lives as caretakers of the people and the places on the planet. The highest potential of who we are exists within each one of us yet it can only be accessed by operating from a pure heart. A jug full of dirty water can only be filled with pure water after it has first been emptied. As we embark upon the challenges of our personal journey we experience setbacks, heartache, pain and resentment. It’s too easy to harden our heart, surround it with a barbed wire fence and switch into thinking mode. But to actualise our individual purpose and to express our unique magnificence requires us to cleanse our heart and awaken the seeds of love.

If you are not meditating as part of your daily practice or living your life feeling grateful for the gift of ‘your life’ then you are not fully living. So many people live a life of unfulfilled potential. A sleeping life that has not awakened to a world of infinite possibilities.

Within every human mind there exists two barking dogs, a good and a bad dog, desperate to get our attention. The dog that prevails and dominates our thoughts and behaviour is the dog that we choose to feed. There are many distractions in the world that continually tempt us into ‘bad dog behaviour’. Every moment we have choices how to live our life. The fires ignited by selfish behaviour burns brightly and hungrily. The more it is fuelled the more it needs to keep the flames alight. If we embrace and acknowledge that we are instruments of love then we can start to focus on what is really important in one’s human life.

Wherever you are right now, whatever you are doing right now reflect on these questions:

  • How am I serving others?
  • How am I making a positive contribution?
  • How am I satisfying the love in my heart?
  • Which ‘dog’ am I choosing to feed today?

Sometimes in the noise of ordinary living, I slip into a state of forgetting about what is really important. I awaken my heart to the beauty of the world, the kindness that exists and the realisation that a life lived well is a life filled with love. My deep gratitude to His Holiness Radhanath Swami for reminding me of why I am here. Thank you.