While learning Zen Buddhism at Bodh Gaya, Richard (now Radhanath Swami) was pained to witness the hypocrisy of the Zen master. While professing to practice spiritual principles strictly, the master himself was having an affair with a girl every night. He even took LSD. Richard realized that if the leader is a hypocrite, it stains the image of all the flowers and the traditions that the leader represents.
Radhanath Swami often quotes the spiritual master of his own guru, Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur who was called as a ‘Lion guru’ because he never tolerated hypocrisy. Whenever and wherever he saw anyone in the renounced order cheat in the name of religion, Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati would expose him, and he considered hypocrisy as one of the greatest sins.
Radhanath Swami quotes the scriptures to explain that the present age and time is called as the age of ‘quarrel and hypocrisy’. At a slight provocation, there is quarrel and hypocrisy is rampant. Radhanath Swami says, “When hypocrisy comes into the system of religion it becomes the greatest threat to the human society. When hypocrisy is present within our material dealings it creates impious life. But when hypocrisy comes into religion it destroys the very fiber of saintliness which is the only means of creating harmony in this world.” Often quoting his guru, Radhanath Swami says a sincere sweeper in the street is better than a charlatan meditator.
Radhanath Swami particularly laments at the renounced order’s hypocrisy. The renounced order is supposed to abstain from sex life. But when one in the renounced order as the Zen master in this story has double standards, people lose faith in the whole system of spirituality. Any position of leadership brings with it lot of responsibility. Quoting Bhagavad Gita, the Indian book of wisdom, Radhanath Swami says, “Whatever the leader does, the common man follows.” Therefore Radhanath Swami appeals to all in leadership positions to cultivate a high level of character and integrity. Radhanath Swami defines character as the substance of ideals that the person holds sacred in his life. “A leader should not only have high ideals, he should also harmonize every aspect of his life to live by those ideals.”
Radhanath Swami says the easiest method to save ourselves from hypocrisy is by cultivating the principle of humility. “A real leader never thinks of himself as a master”, says Radhanath Swami, “He always feels ‘I am the servant’. He always meditates on ‘I am a caretaker and not a proprietor. And the only thing that belongs to me is my service to all of God’s children’“
Hypocrisy has to make way for cleansing of our own hearts. And that is spirituality’s basic thrust. “Cleaning of our own hearts is in essence the essence of all religion and spirituality”, says Radhanath Swami. Radhanath Swami urges us to conquer our hypocritical tendencies with genuine humility. “We have to do good to others but knowing fully well that whatever good we do is due to being an instrument of a power beyond ourselves.” The more humble we seek to become, the more we access this power and more our lives are in congruence with our sacred ideals. Hypocrisy then makes way for high level of character and integrity.