In the company of Dalai Lama, Richard (now Radhanath Swami) felt reverential and also felt like being with an intimate friend. The virtue of selfless service became more prominent in Richard’s mind. Richard could see that Dalai Lama was a person dedicated not only to his spiritual principles, but also on taking on the massive burden of serving the needs of his people who were either in exile or under subjugation. Dalai Lama had endured incomprehensible challenges and obstacles in his struggle for his people. He tolerated exile, threats and untold suffering, only to selflessly serve.
One of the most endearing of all human virtues is the virtue of sacrifice and service to others. Radhanath Swami saw this principle in action at the famous Golden Temple at Amritsar, Punjab. The huge complex is spotlessly clean and although there are thousands of people walking, still it’s clean as people are always cleaning. Besides they are twenty four hours a day distributing food to anybody and everybody who comes. They had 150 people rolling chapattis, flat bread, and at the same time they had a machine, that cooks perfectly 6000 chapatis an hour. There is also chanting of prayers twenty four hours a day. The most beautiful part of this culture is they do not pay anyone anything ever; it’s all voluntary. Radhanath Swami described this most beautiful sight of multi-millionaires from Toronto sitting next to peasants of Punjab at the shoe stall and whatever kind of shoe comes to them, they clean every piece of dirt off it and polish it, Hundreds of volunteers from all over the world come to the Golden Temple in a mood of wanting to serve and not to be served. The rendering of such menial services as cleaning and serving endears them to everyone. It is this kind of spirit that Radhanath Swami himself embodies and calls upon all others to inculcate.
Radhanath Swami often gives the example of one of the most famous inaugural presidential addresses in the United States history, given by John Fitzgerald Kennedy. On the day he was sworn in as President, he addressed the whole Nation and said, “Ask not what your country will do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, and people stood up and applauded for a long time. The sentence echoes in the hearts of many, even today almost half a century later. Radhanath Swami observes that if people’s hearts are very deeply affected by unconditional service even on the material platform, how much more it would if there is unconditional service on the spiritual platform, with consciousness of God, the all attractive Supreme. That unconditional service will attract God and all other living entities of this world.
This selfless service binds the hearts of the served and the one serving. Radhanath Swami gives the example of his own mother who cooked a feast every day seven days a week, after performing all the household chores. This extending of oneself to serve the family connected the family members deeply to each other. Similarly if we serve each other in this spirit, we shall develop deep and meaningful relationships with each other. Life in this world would then be a cause to cheer.