What makes life complete?
One of my friends in Mumbai, a Gujarati gentleman, he purchased a very expensive, high-end, upmarket car: a slick, posh, yellow Lamborghini.
You know cars are expensive in Mumbai, things can’t get more expensive than that.
If you have watched this Hindi movie “Deewar,”
Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor.
Amitabh Bachchan talking to Shashi Kapoor:
“I have a car, a house, money, and servants. What do you have?!”
Amitabh replies, “I have a mother.”
The rhyme of today has changed.
Amitabh says, “I have Lamborghini, I have a Jaguar, I have a Bentley,
I have a BMW, I have a Rolls-Royce.
What do you have?!”
Shashi Kapoor says, “I have parking space!”
Here in Mumbai, parking space is more expensive than cars.
This friend of mine, a Gujarati, purchased a yellow Lamborghini and called me up and said,
“Would you like to bless my car?”
Now in India, everything gets blessed: babies, marriages, job contracts; all the stuff gets blessed.
“So would you like to bless my car, we’ll go for an inaugural drive with it.”
I said, “Well, it’s a Lamborghini.
When do swamis get to bless Lamborghinis? Come here.
The gentlemen drove to our temple in the Lamborghini, and he said, “We’ll go on a 15-minutes drive.”
I sat in the passenger seat, and the gentleman sat in the driver’s seat, obviously; he was driving.
I was the first one!
He didn’t even have his wife to drive first.
Choose your career wisely, you know!
This gentleman, we went on a drive.
The car encountered a traffic light at Peddar Road.
And there was some car standing there;
I can’t even remember what model, I’m sitting in a Lamborghini.
I’m sitting there, and this gentleman in the next car, he turned his head around, and his eyes were, like, big.
Never in the streets or roads of Mumbai had he seen a slick, yellow Lamborghini.
And his eyes went even bigger when he saw me sitting inside the car!
You should have seen the expression on his face, he was, like, “Swamiji, you too?!”
I wanted to pull the windscreen down and say, “Man, this is not my car.
I’m the blessing man, 15 minutes blessing and it’s done!”
The 15 minutes drive turned into 35 minutes.
I suggested to the gentleman that I need to get back because there’s a very important meeting that I need to attend.
What this man did, when I just suggested I need to get back, shocked me to the core.
I believe most of you would be shocked to the core when I tell you what he did.
This guy broke down crying like a baby.
I don’t think any of you would cry the first day when you have possession of a slick, yellow Lamborghini, and you’re driving it for the first time.
And these were tears of anguish. How do you know what tears they are?
When tears are cold, they’re tears of joy.
When tears are warm, they’re tears of pain and anguish.
Check it out next time.
When someone is crying, don’t take a thermometer, “This is tears of joy!”
Don’t test on others, you can test it for yourself, you know.
I asked him what had happened.
This man, with great difficulty, spoke up and said, “Just three days back my wife has filed papers for divorce.”
He was driving a car – fancy car – he loved his wife, his children loved his wife, for some reason the wife had filed papers for divorce.
And this fancy Lamborghini, expensive, high-end car couldn’t wipe his tears; this fancy, expensive, plush car couldn’t bring him any hope.
While I was driving with him I was thinking to myself,
“God. Look at this gentleman, with all of the achievements that he has: a first-class business, incredible amounts of money, tremendous influence and affluence, and with all of that he had, and the cherry on top of the cake was a Lamborghini:
Bugged. No hope.
Therefore I say if you truly want to know how rich you are then count all those things that you have that money cannot buy.
Hope, love, respect, dignity, character, integrity, acceptance.
Wealth is a very broad term.
Money is not wealth. Money is just a part of wealth.
And you must have it obviously – all of you are looking forward to having money, and you must obviously have it.
But it’s just a part of wealth.
February 2, 2005,
I was lying in a monastery in an ashram on the wooden floor, exhausted, tired from the anxiety last night, and suddenly a fellow monk, one of my friends, came up to me and woke me up saying, “He’s leaving. He’s leaving!”
I got up, gathering myself together, rushing to go to the room, where my dear friend Stoka Krishna Das was leaving his body.
Memories were flashing through my mind as I was rushing towards this room.
He was a monk with me, we had stayed together.
At a certain point, he had decided to move on and get married.
He went out.
He’d taken a job at the hospital we run, as a librarian.
He’d just gotten married; his wife was pregnant.
While the wife was pregnant, he was diagnosed with melanoma cancer.
He decided that he wanted to leave the body in the monastery where he spent most of his time.
We had brought him to our monastery.
As the memories flashed in my mind as I was rushing there,
I remembered every day I went to sing God’s names to him on the harmonium.
My tears filled the eyes.
As I cried, seeing a dear friend struggling with melanoma cancer.
Every single time I looked at him, my vision was blurred.
Because it was someone so dear.
Yet, this gentleman was amazing, he had a beaming face, all the excruciating pain that he went through hadn’t affected his determined resolve.
Yeah, look at his face, look at that smile.
No morphine was working on him.
I realized: this stuff works.
His wife had given birth to a baby girl; they brought the baby girl right next to him.
It was the last time she would see him; it was the last time his wife would ever be with him.
As I walked to the room, my guru Radhanath Swami, the author of the popular book The Journey Home, was right next to him, giving him hope.
I was astounded inside the little room, there were so many people.
I was standing right next to him with my guru Radhanath Swami, outside were 450 members of our community, all together chanting the names of God.
What I saw here was a man who didn’t have a Lamborghini.
What I saw here was support.
What I saw here was people: people who were there to financially support him, people who were there to medically support him, people who were there to spiritually support him, people who were there to emotionally support him. I was amazed at the kind of support this man had.
You know something, when you’re born, people love you, and when you die, people love you; in between you have to manage.
And this man had managed truly well, he’d invested so much in relationships with his people that when he was in dire need people had come to him.
It is important for us to have support.
Wealth doesn’t just mean money.
Wealth means money plus people and support.
One gentleman said, do you know what’s the difference between complete and finished?
He said if you find the right partner, you’re complete;
If you find the wrong partner, you’re finished.
But if you were caught with the wrong one by the right one: completely finished.
I must tell you: we definitely need partners, we definitely need friends, we definitely need professional therapists, we definitely need people who can support us.
Therefore, I say if you wanted to know truly how rich you are, drop a tear and see how many hands come forward to wipe that tear.
That’s how rich you actually are, that’s wealth.
Sanskrit is an amazing language.
If people want to call someone a donkey in Sanskrit, you say Vaishakhnandan.
Do you want to know what you call ice cream in Sanskrit?
And if you say mango ice cream, you’d say,
Aamra dughdasharkarayuktahima ganagolagattu.
It will melt before you place the order!
But I’m sure most of us love to eat ice cream. Yes, indeed.
People who eat ice cream, it is good to eat ice cream because the ideology behind the ice cream is: enjoy your life before it melts.
And then there is a candle where the ideology is: give light to others before it melts.
The live world is full of ice creams; what we need is candles.
Yes, there was a gentleman here in this country, Chennai,
Mr. Palam Kalyanasundaram, giving away each of his salaries to educate the poor.
He was recognized by the U.S., given an award, about five million American dollars, approximately 30 crore Indian Rupees.
He gave away all of that money to educate the poor.
How many of you are ready to be candles?
Contact me later, I need a lot!
To be honest, we cannot be that extreme,
selfless candles, and just because we can’t be candles should we continue being ice creams?
Journey means move from being an ice cream to a candle.
How many of you like to look beautiful?
How many of you like to look handsome?
Those who are not raising their hands, they think they’re already beautiful.
I must tell you,
a teacher wrote down on the whiteboard: I am beautiful. “Which tense is it?”
The student said,”Past tense, Madam.” Visible beauty just goes away.
I’d like to introduce you to a very handsome guy.
One of my friends, Prem Raheja, wonderful man,
from a well-to-do, high middle-class family.
This man, his accountant’s daughter stood first in the KEM medical college and wanted to go the U.S to study and didn’t have any money, didn’t have a sponsor for the visa.
He sponsored her visa; paid for her tuition fee, paid for the travel fee, all of his staff, paid for the fees of all the children of his staff, paid for the house of every single staff member, paid for the marriages of every single person in his staff’s family.
And what’s amazing is no one ever even knew.
And there are so many such people across the country and across the world who are trying to move from being an ice cream to being a candle.
If you truly want to know how handsome you are, just extend your “hand” to “some,” and you will definitely be considered to be extremely handsome.
It’s not about the looks, which fade, but it’s definitely about how we help others.
It is important for us that wealth is equal to money + people + purpose in life, to serve, share and contribute.
It was July 9, 2009.
I had just returned from England, London.
As I got back from London, it was half one in the morning, for some reason my telephone was on, cellular phone.
My phone rang.
My mind started going into guesses:
Who could it be?
My mom had rung me up.
As I picked up the phone, I didn’t want to hear the news that my father had gone.
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
Just before I had traveled to London, I had gone and seen him; he was bed ridden.
From all the way as I’d become a monk till now, it had been an amazing journey for them.
Hard in the beginning, definitely appreciated later.
My dad had gone.
I drove from Mumbai, it was pouring cats and dogs.
The cremation was done.
The next day I went to the crematorium, and what came in my hand was a pot.
A pot of ashes.
As I held this pot of ashes in my hands, I was stunned, shocked, couldn’t think for a while.
And this is 2009, I took this life as a monk in 1996 after having worked at Hewlett Packard.
And as I was now there,
is this my father?
Is this what’s left out of my father?
God heard all what I’d spoken, read, heard and spoken in so many different forums including the British Parliament had dawned upon me suddenly in that one moment.
That’s all gone.
I’ll tell you something, it’s quite amazing how these sobering moments are.
They bring to your heart those important priorities which truly matter to you.
You all have to evaluate what is of importance to us.
What are we going to hold?
Grudges? Anger? What?
When we go we need to leave a legacy behind and not just leave a legacy behind.
When we go we must carry something along with us.
On my way to London, on the flight, British Airways, I had a mango milkshake bottle with me in the lunch pack.
And at the X-ray machine as the mango milkshake passed through it,
the security guard said, “Sir, this can’t go ahead.”
I asked him, “Why?” He said, “There’s liquid in it.”
I said, “This is not liquid, this is sublime.”
He said, “What is sublime?” “This is mango milkshake, sir.”
“One liter of steel bottle.” “Sorry sir, only 100 ml is allowed.”
So I said, “I’ll throw it away,” but I won’t give it to him.
“Let me take it.”
So I found someone – I know someone the airport, he took me out and we gave it to the beggar – and came back.
As I boarded the flight I put on my laptop with one thought: when you board a flight you must know what you can take along.
Everything else is left behind.
And similarly, when the flight ends, you have to know what you can take along; and therefore, I must say, there is a need for a divine spiritual connection.
Yes, when the flight ends, there are three things we must do: not have anything in the mind left thinking,
“Oh! I should have done that!”
Second, we leave a legacy behind, and three, we have something to carry on, even if it’s 100 ml, but it will be allowed with us as we move on; and thus I say what makes life complete: Wealth makes life complete.
Be super wealthy, have a lot of money, no problem.
Be super wealthy, have a lot of support.
Be super wealthy, have a lot of purposes to move from an ice cream to a candle and share.
Be super wealthy, by leaving a legacy behind, and having something that you can carry along with you as the flight lands.
-GAUR GOPAL DAS-