Whereas religious prayers sing of peace and harmony, religion has divided human beings through an atrocious history of enmity and bloodshed. Yet, behind the veil of superficiality and hypocrisy, I always believed in the inherent beauty of God that lies at the essence of all true spiritual paths.
The true treasure lies within. It is the underlying theme of the songs we sing, the shows we watch and the books we read. It is woven into the Psalms of the Bible, the ballads of the Beatles and practically every Bollywood film ever made. What is that treasure? Love. Love is the nature of the Divine.
My parents' selfless affection and dedication nourished and prepared me to receive the love of my guru or spiritual father, Swami Prabhupada. My parents prepared the soil in which my guru sowed the seeds of his compassion.
What I found particularly fascinating and satisfying about the Hindu tradition was its spirit of inclusiveness. In Sanatan Dharma, or what is commonly called Hinduism, I discovered the basic truths of all religions in a way that the oneness of God and religion is comprehensively understood.
When love is pure, it has the power to conquer. Lover and beloved conquer each other by their affection. The source, the essence, the fullest manifestation of love's conquering power is the love of the soul for the supreme soul, or God.
Religious and spiritual leaders should be held accountable for environmental activism, not only because they have access to large communities and can influence votes, but because service is integral to religious and spiritual life.
In religion, there's a certain type of fear that if somebody believes differently from me, that it's a threat. Because I'm right, and there cannot be two ways that are right, so if I'm right, anything different than this must be wrong; and we attack those things and it's really due to insecurity, ego and fear.
If you love God, you can't hate anything or anyone. If the love one offers is met with hate, it doesn't die, rather it manifests in the form of compassion. That is universal love. It is not just a sentiment. It cannot be manifested merely by a shift in mental disposition. It can only come from inner cleaning, an inner awakening.
In my own spiritual journey, I became a swami on the Hindu path of Bhakti. In the Hindu tradition, a swami is a monk who forgoes regular family life for the purpose of making the whole world his family and channels his full energy into spiritual practice, devotion to God and service to humanity.
Mother Nature is always speaking. She speaks in a language understood within the peaceful mind of the sincere observer. Leopards, cobras, monkeys, rivers and trees; they all served as my teachers when I lived as a wanderer in the Himalayan foothills.
One who loves God sees everything in relation to God. Therefore, their love flows spontaneously toward everyone, at all times, everywhere. They even love those who wish them harm. If you love God, you can't hate anything or anyone. If the love one offers is met with hate, it doesn't die; rather, it manifests in the form.
I took an interest in the Civil Rights Movement. I listened to Martin Luther King. The Vietnam War was raging. When I was 18, I was eligible for the draft, but when I went to be tested, I didn't qualify.
Reducing carbon emissions is important, but it is shortsighted if not coupled with reducing the toxic emissions from our heart; and that is something spiritual leaders are supposed to teach and something all thinking people, regardless of their beliefs, should practice.
In 1958, my father invested everything he had in a business venture and became the largest automobile dealership in Chicago for Ford's new Edsel line. But Edsel sales plummeted and my father fell into bankruptcy. I watched him struggle; working long hours to protect us from poverty.
How can our hearts not break? How can we hold our tears? How can we bear the pain of losing those loving children and their guardians, who were slain in Newtown, Conn.? Why can't we face the reality of our times and restrict deranged people from having these destructive powers?
The tension between the essence of spiritual teachings and the harmful fundamentalism that often arises in the name of religion is an issue that has engaged my mind practically as far back as I can remember.
I just didn't know where I fit in - I didn't seem to fit in my parent's generation. I didn't seem to fit in my own generation. Little by little, this took me into a spiritual search for understanding; a search for meaning and fulfillment.
Parallel to our vast strides in technology, there is a dangerous rise in unemployment, foreclosures, and degrading education. Millions of people are stricken with hopelessness and strife. Sadly, in the name of progress we have polluted the air, water, soil and the food we eat.