A few years ago I went through a serious confusion; I’d been hearing rumours about someone I loved and was disturbed by the news. Moreover my relationships with people I knew closely soured; I was distressed and began to feel strong negative emotions engulfing my consciousness. I had a chance to meet Radhanath Swami during this time and I expressed my situation to him. He heard me patiently and offered a simple solution, “Just be positive and you’ll be empowered beyond your ability.” I contemplated on this for a few days and wondered what it meant to be ‘positive’; the whole world talks about being positive and is Radhanath Swami’s formula the same or is it different? I’d also been disappointed with the positivity formulas that are abundantly available in this world. I hoped as a spiritual leader Radhanath Swami offered more insights into this; besides my services in leadership and management demanded dealing with abounding negativities. I wasn’t satisfied and sought more explanations.
A couple of days later I chanced to meet Radhanath Swami again and humbly requested him to throw more light on being ‘positive’. His answer has changed my life. He said being positive has four ingredients, and if we can constantly work centred on these principles, our lives would change for the better.
- Accept the truth
When certain situations go bad we may artificially psyche ourselves up with false assurances that things are just fine as ever. This is an immature and foolish response to the inevitable downturns of this world. When things or people change, denial makes the pain acute. We may offer a cosmetic smile and a gung ho ‘all’s well’ pep talk to ourselves but the seething pain is building from within. Accepting the unfortunate turn of events as an inevitable outcome beyond our puny control takes the steam off the potentially stressful situation. However simple as it may sound, this is the most challenging of the four steps. The strength to accept the bitter truths of life comes if we are anchored on the Absolute Truth, the Truth of God, and our sweet and loving relationship with Him. A culture of prayers and chanting of God’s Names gives us the strength to accept disturbing events and be peaceful and sober even during the emotionally painful periods of our lives.
- Be optimistic
However bad the situation is, there’s always a cloud of silver lining. We need to look for the possible positive and good outcome of an apparently tragic or negative event. As Radhanath Swami urges us to be optimistic, I remember the words of W. Clement, “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it’s positive or negative.” If we hope for a better future even amidst a hopeless mess, we are placing our tender hearts in the hands of benevolent God. He’ll then work wonders in our lives.
Our life is a constant flow of blessings. If we can simply thank God and other people for all the gifts that we are constantly getting, we’ll remain positive rather than get cynical. Cynicism drains out our vital energy; gratitude keeps our life simple, hearts purer and mind peaceful. As life treats us badly, we can focus on the things that life has given us, although we may be undeserving of them. “I had no shoes and I complained until I met a man with no feet” is a wise maxim and a sacred tool of a grateful leader.
Kind words of encouragement and sincere appreciation of others emits positive energy everywhere and especially to those who come in close contact with us. Appreciation creates a virtuous cycle of positivity; you sincerely appreciate others in your team or group. This makes them happy, positive and surcharged, and in turn they catch the contagious quality of catching others doing right. Overall this builds a positive environment where one can lead a meaningful life centred on spiritual principles and integrity. The world is filled with people catching others doing wrong, but a spiritual leader focuses on the ‘right’ things others do. He then fans the spark of goodness in others and sets it ablaze; people who are always encouraged and appreciated feel empowered to affect others’ lives positively.
A few years ago I attended a programme where friends and students of Radhanath Swami appreciated him for affecting their lives in a personal and positive way. However Radhanath Swami surprised all of us by speaking about each of the members present, recalling the minute details of their wonderful qualities. He vividly recalled incidents and exchanges that took place over twenty five years ago; he even mentioned which of these members of the community in Mumbai had cooked dosas and idlis (these are special Indian cuisine) for him. A few days later some of the monks met him at the aisle of our monastery and we expressed our amazement at his incredible ability to remember such minute details of the various services of these members. Radhanath Swami’s grave answer humbled and inspired us. “These special souls have done so many services over the years. And if I don’t remember their love, sacrifice and affection, my life is condemned.”
It is adherence to these simple but sacred principles that are the hallmark of a genuine spiritual leader. Radhanath Swami is one such exemplary leader who has assimilated the ingredients of spiritual positivity, and freely shares them with one and all.Google+