I would like to thank all of you for coming here and kindly giving us your time today. The subject I was asked to speak on is Life after Death — a fact or fiction. You are all mostly college students, so this is the most essential topic for you to very seriously ponder upon and consider because it is a subject that very specifically and directly involves you, everyone who is near and dear to you and everyone else. Death is the mysterious, inevitable conclusion of what we know to be life and this subject matter of death is always been a great mystery.

 

Problems Galore!

Why? Because man takes great pride through philosophy, through technology, through science, through social progress, through economic to solve the various problems that we face day after day and you will find most of the courses that are being offered in the colleges today are courses which teach you, when you come out of the school, how you can help solve the problems of society. I believe many of you are studying law, now who will hire a lawyer unless he is having a problem? Perhaps some of you are studying medicine, who goes to a doctor unless he has a problem? We are trained to solve problems of life. Practically all of the sciences, whether it be physics, sociology or psychology, train you to learn the science of how to solve problems of individuals and problems of the world. If we study economics, there is a simple principle of economics. Principles are the basics of the whole technical learning. In this world every living being has unlimited desires to enjoy unlimited resources but there is only limited amount of resources, so individually, collectively and nationally, we find so many problems.

 

Trying to solve problems

We see that the world is perhaps facing a third world war. India and Pakistan are always about to have a war, the war in the Gulf, there are wars in Africa, there are wars in South America. It is all due to the problem of economics. So you see through our intelligence, through our efforts in this world, we are very anxious to find a solution to problems. Even businesses are based on trying to eradicate people’s problems – people grow food to solve the problems of hunger, you buy tooth paste to solve the problems of cavities, you wear clothes because you don’t want to be a social misfit or to solve the problem of cold or heat.

 

Death-No scientific solution

Throughout our lives we are endeavoring to solve the problems that face us, but there is one problem that is 100% guaranteed to face each and everyone of us. Through all science and technology, we have no solution to this problem and that is the problem of death. “Sure as death” is a saying signifying that we all must meet that fate today or tomorrow. So what is death? What is life? The greatest thinkers throughout history have pondered upon this subject. In the Christian world, Jesus Christ taught that the greatest goal beyond death is to attain eternal life. What is the use if you gain the whole world but you lose your eternal life? Mohammed explained that until you can learn to face death in this life you cannot know the truth of eternity.

 

Janma mrtyu jara vyadhi

dukha – doshanudarsanam

 

Krishna explains in the Gita that a wise man is a person who understands the solutions to the problems of birth, old age, disease and death and Lord Buddha taught that the conclusions and the goal of the eight fold Buddhist dharma is to attain that state of Consciousness beyond the cycle of birth and death. And Shankaracharya taught the same.

 

Compassion of the great sages

Somebody was recently telling me that, “I do not believe that there is anything beyond death and I do not believe that there is a God. So I explained that you have a right to your belief that is your birth right as a human being, but consider this these great personalities such as Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhavacharya, Nimbarkacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, etc. every great saint and sadhu of India, great souls such as Jesus Christ, Saint Francis of Assissi, Mohammad, all his followers, Buddha, all his followers, they all shared a particular quality that was consistent amongst one another, they were all perfectly in peace with themselves, they were all sacrificing their very lives for the upliftment of others. They were merciful, compassionate, not only that but they all spoke of a God and they all spoke of a soul which was beyond birth and death. So the question is are all these great persons from all cultures throughout the world. Are they in illusion or are they liars? Have they all come to cheat us? They were all ascetics, they were not receiving anything in return for their services, for their sacrifices to the upliftment of humanity. How are they coming to cheat us, they were simply giving, giving, giving and we are not speaking of one or two, but tens and thousands of sadhus and saints throughout the world, throughout history, they all taught the same thing, how is it possible? Thousands of year’s gap, thousands of miles gap between their appearances and they all taught the same thing. Were they all inherent cheaters trying to misguide us or were they all in illusion, were they all under the spell of believing something that cannot exist and if they were under a spell of illusion how is it possible that they all displayed the same characteristics which are the most virtuous and glorious characteristics that had ever been manifested by human beings throughout history?

 

What is real education?

So we should open our minds and open our hearts to accept the possibility that what they may be saying has some validity and truth  because after all the word, ‘education’ which you are all obviously taking very seriously giving your most youthful energetic years of your lives simply to be educated, at least, we should know what the word education means. Education comes from the Latin word, ‘educaric’ which explains that process by which we bring out that which is inherent within us, that is the real meaning of education. Education doesn’t simply mean to whitewash our brains with external knowledge, it means to bring out the inherent knowledge within us. But the modern education system unfortunately has forgotten this most essential part of learning.

 

Faith in God’s existence

Of course the scientific approach as far as people believe is that I will only accept if there is tangible proof, I will believe it if you can show me. You are talking about life after death, but no one has ever been there and come back to tell about it. Can you show me a soul, can you prove to me that there is something beyond death, if you cannot show me God, if you cannot put him before me to see, to touch, to smell, to taste, to experience directly with my senses, how do you expect me to believe it and remain scientific? This is a great fallacy because factually everything in your life that you believe is true, you have no means to prove it directly through sense perception and yet you accept it. Who is your mother, how do you know this lady is your mother? It is based on faith. None of you witnessed the act of procreation you simply accept it on the basis of imperceivable faith, blind faith, this is my mother, this is my father, this is my grandfather, this is my grandmother, this is my great grandmother. Gandhi was the father of India. How do you know? Faith. Can you see him, can you meet him. I can tell you about God being your supreme father. Can you say show him to me? And you will tell me about Gandhi, the father of India. I say, prove him, show him to me, you cannot show me Gandhi any more than I can show you God with your senses. How do you know that Mahatma Gandhi existed. Through books and through persons who knew him that’s the only way. You have to have faith in those books and you have to have faith in the persons who knew him. Otherwise you will never believe he existed. And everyone in this room, believes unanimously, irrevocably, that he existed. But they are all books. There are thousands of times more books explaining the nature the history of God’s events in this world than there is about Mr. Gandhi and there are saints and sages from all traditions throughout history who explain that they have met him, they have experienced him. What is the difference? Faith is a part of our life, which is the basis of practically everything we believe to be true. And this is faith of what we have never and never will perceive with our senses.

 

Nature of Consciousness

In geography, do you accept that New York exists? How many have been to New York? You have faith in books and faith in people who have been there. No experience, but you can go to New York, only if you have enough faith that you are willing to make the effort to go there. So similarly we can perceive, we can experience not with these senses, but we can experience from within our  heart directly through realization, the experience of the soul within us, that is the very essence of our existence, that is beyond birth and beyond death. But we must approach it scientifically. The Bhagavat Gita  is a book, a literature which very systematically explains the nature of Consciousness. What is the difference between a living body and a dead body, not material chemicals. The difference is that one is conscious and one is unconscious. That consciousness is you.

 

Who am I?

We are not these bodies. This is the basic principle of every transcendental philosophy. Although we are living our lives day after day after day, although we are these bodies, that is great illusion. But who am I? You may know history, you may know mathematics, you may know computer technology. You may know all sorts of athletics, but do you know who is it that’s knowing these things. Who am I? This is the basic principle of knowledge that is practically neglected throughout the world. You see at one time you were a little tiny child and you grew to a boy and now you are a youth, you will be old, the body is always changing. But the person that is witnessing the changes of the body always remains the same. The tie which is consistent throughout our lives, you say when I was five years old, I did this, when I was ten years old, when I was twenty years old, I did this. When I am seventy years old, I hope to do like this. Who is that I? Every seven years all the cells of the body are changing, the body is constantly changing, and the mind is changing far faster than the body. When you were a little boy, playing and doing all athletics and sports, you were not thinking in any way the way you are thinking now. The problems you were  facing then have nothing to do with the problems you are facing now. So physically and mentally you are constantly changing. So the Bhagavat Gita  explains that we are changing our bodies, we are re-incarnating at every moment. Our body is made of cells. Those cells are dying and becoming new again, dying and becoming new again, re-incarnation is not something which happens after the death of this body. Re-incarnation is something that is constantly taking place moment after moment after moment. The soul is accepting new physical conditions, new mental conditions. The Bhagavat Gita  explains that it is a continuation of the same process at the time of death. The soul accepts another body. What type of body? This is a great mystery. People are very afraid of death because they don’t know what is beyond.

 

India – the crown jewel of the British empire

In 1492, Christopher Columbus, he was very anxious to find a short-cut  to India, because believe it or not, those days India was the wealthiest country in the world and everyone in Europe understood that whoever has the fastest access to India, will be the wealthiest and the most prosperous country in Europe. That’s why constantly boats were going all the way around Africa and through the Mediterranean, trying to get the fastest, most direct way to India. In fact later on the British conquered practically the whole world. It is said that the sun never sets on the British empire because there was always some place which they ruled where the sun was present  as they had their colonies in all four corners of the world. The British had ruled India which was called the crown jewel of the British empire. It was their most noble and precious of all achievements that they had conquered India because India was the place of the greatest riches, natural resources jewels, silks, spices, and wealth. And the Moghuls also spent a lot of time and energy sending millions of soldiers to conquer India. It is said that most of the wealth of India is now in the British museums. India was plundered and plundered and plundered until what you have today, so much poverty, so much need. But in 1492, India was very wealthy place. So Christopher Columbus decided that everyone is going through Africa, through all these various canals, trying to get to India. But I say that the world is round and I am going to go the other way instead of going to east, I am going to take my boat across the ocean west-ward and I will run into India that way. Because the world is round and people were horrified, they said, “you are insane you are crazy.” The world is flat.”

 

Earth – flat or round

Western science until then unanimously agreed that the world was flat and if  we go beyond a certain point in the ocean, we will fall off the world and there were various other speculations. Some said you would just fall endlessly, eternally through the sky and some believed that there were dragons and fire that you would fall into and some believed that after you fell off the world, you would go to hell where the devil was standing with his pick fork ready to stab you and burn you. There were all different theories and speculations of what would have happened after you fell off the world, but everyone agreed that if you keep going, you will fall off because it is flat.

 

Fear of the unknown

This is only 500 years ago, this is science. Science is constantly changing their theories with newer, and newer and newer discoveries. Of course in the Vedas and in the Srimad Bhagvatam- one of the scientific books of the Indian spiritual heritage which is over five thousand years old, it is explained very, very simply that the world is global, it is round. The science of the Vedas doesn’t change, but it is never proven incorrect either. It is a science which is descending from an absolute realm so try to understand that this was a great fear, falling off the world. Why were they in such a great fear? Because nobody knew, nobody knew for sure whether it really did end and nobody knew what was there. So everyone was telling Christopher Columbus, “Don’t do it, you are crazy!” But by his navigational calculations, he was convinced that it was round and he was willing to take a chance. Why was there so much of fear? Why nobody dared to go westward before? Because of fear, fear of the unknown.

 

Mystery of death

Death is like that, death is unknown, it is mystery and therefore people are afraid of death, afraid for their own death, afraid for their loved one’s death. So many children when they love their pet dog or their pet fish or their mother, father, brother, sister, they pray at night, “Please God do not let my loved one’s die, please do not let them die. And when one of them do die, it’s very sad and it increases our own fear of death and it increases the fear of other’s dying. This fear of death is one of the intricate part of every person’s life and you can try to forget it. But you can only forget it for a short time. You can hide yourself from reality of your ultimate destiny. But eventually you have to face it. You cannot forget it for long, it’s all around you, it’s in all the newspapers, it’s in your families, you are getting older, it’s creeping up. To face a problem and trying to understand and solve that  problem is the true glory of a human being. To close your eyes and run away from the problem or ignore the problem is ignorance. And most people, even in the most highly educated Phd’s, when it comes to the most important problem of life, which is death, they close their eyes, they don’t want to think about it, they don’t want to hear about it because they do not know the solution. Because they believe that life or death is simply what ever they want to believe.

 

The Science of Self Realization – laws of nature

But there is a science, it is a science of self realization which is been taught throughout the ages in every culture of the world which gives one an understanding and the means of experiencing and realizing what is life, what is death and what is beyond this. Srimad Bhagvatam and Bhagavat Gita – they deal with the subject very very thoroughly. It is explained that there are laws of nature – for every action there is an equal corresponding reaction. For those who have studied a little science you know that this is an irreversible law. Every aspect of this creation is caused by the law of physics – for every action there is an equal corresponding reaction or as we say in English. What goes round comes round. Isaac Newton and Galileo, they discovered the so called laws of gravity. What does law of gravity mean? What goes up must come down, so simple. But they made so many very sophisticated equations to explain that what goes up must come down. It is a law that anything that goes up must come down. There is no question of exceptions. Try to find an exception.  Anything you throw up will come down – this is the law of nature but there are also subtle laws of nature which have the same basic thing that for every action there is a reaction. If you commit violent activity to another, you cannot escape the reaction. That violence must come back to you. Exactly when, exactly how, that you may not be able to understand the detail, but it will be an equal corresponding suffering which will come back to you.

 

For every action there is an equal corresponding reaction

If you give in charity, it must come back to you. This is an irreversible law whether you believe or not. There are laws of the state- if I rob a bank then I will say that I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with robbing this bank because I need the money, explain that to a judge. Ignorance of the law is no excuse to breaking the law. If I put my hand in fire, I am burnt whether I believe its going to burn or not. The laws of nature are never subjected to what you believe. The laws act regardless. So similarly what our actions are in this life, and what are desires are in this life, will create an atmosphere in which at the time of death the soul will be transported to a place, to a particular type of body. It is said in the Vedas that there are 84,00,000 species of life and each species of life has a particular type of enjoying and suffering and in this human species of life we see so many various conditions of enjoying and suffering that we can be born into. That condition of the type of form we take is exactly according to what we have done within this life.  These are the laws of nature.

 

Greatest sense enjoyment – Sex?

Now a human being has special facilities that are unique. The human form of life is not designed for enjoying physical sensations because the animals can do it much better and that is the fact.  But unfortunately, the human society, due to ignorance they are simply dedicating themselves to enjoying physical pleasures which is which is available for the dogs and the hogs.  Some people believe that the greatest enjoyment of life is sex specially in the western world. People are mad after sex and in India the population obviously means that you are not very indifferent to sex. So there is a pleasure, there is no doubt, but is human being simply meant to enjoy this pleasure? We are not very good at it. Just like when I was a little boy my parents brought me to this movie and this James Bond you’ve heard of him and in the movie, the man had sex with about 14 women in a course of 2 hours. And all beautiful women and everyone in America wanted to be like him. He was the ideal, he was the hero, just see how he moves his eyes, how he smokes his cigarette, how he is attracting so many women. They were thinking that anyone who could be so attractive to women must be great, so people were wearing 007 belts, 007 T shirts. Everything was advertised according to him.  Because after all everyone wants to enjoy sex.  But who is he? What is his potency? A Pigeon can have sex sixty times in one day. How many times can you have sex in one day? Two to three times and you are totally exhausted. Pigeons are still flying around after sixty times. Not only that, they don’t have to worry about making money, taking her out to dinner, finding this place, that place, they don’t have to worry about unwanted children, they just do it and do it and do it and there is no anxiety, there is no difficulty, they simply enjoy and get the same pleasure out of it as a human being. So if your standard of enjoyment is sex, you are far inferior to a pigeon or a monkey or an insect.

 

Another sense enjoyment – eating

What about eating? There is a saying, ‘you should eat to live’ not ‘live to eat’, but people live to eat, they love to eat, it’s the greatest pleasure in life, to eat nice food as much as they can, but how much can you eat? The human being’s stomach is only this big and your desire very big. If you get the nicest food you have been longing for and you eat so much and then you are frustrated because you can’t eat anymore, but you try anyway and you get sick. This is a dilemma! But an elephant can eat 100 kilos a day. What that means is that for 24 hours, the elephant can eat and eat to satisfy that taste propensity and never get indigestion. So if your standard of pleasure is eating, why do you want to be a human being? Better to be an elephant.

 

Even animals are better than us!

What about defending? People are very proud to be strong and powerful, it’s like, “I can beat you up!” In America, boxing is the most money making of all athletic sports. If you are a good boxer, you could make several millions of dollars within a span of one hour. Sometimes ten million dollars for a fight even if they lose, why? Because people are very proud to see that this man, he is so tough, he is so strong, he can beat others, but who ever you are, Mike Tyson or Mohammed Ali put this man in the ring with a cobra or with a tiger or with a panther, you think he will last one round? Within ten seconds, he will be torn to pieces. Human beings are not meant for defending, the animals, they are far superior. And some people love to swim? Can you swim like a fish? Some people like to fly, but can you fly like a bird?

 

The power to discriminate

Human life has one special facility that no other species has, the human being has the power to discriminate, the power to question his existence. This is the one mystic power that the human being has, who am I? Who is God, where am I coming from? What is death? What is beyond death? The fish, the vegetables, the animals cannot ask these questions, they are simply serving day after day, serving their needs day after day, and seeking pleasures for their bodies, but we can question our existence and through the process of questioning our existence, we can do something that no other no other species of life can do. We can transcend the problem of birth and death. We can realize the eternal soul that is full of knowledge and full of bliss that is within our own hearts and this is the gift that is given to every human being and if this gift is neglected and ignored, it is the law of nature that if something is neglected, it is taken away.  Just like if I break my arm and the doctor puts my arm in a cast and if I don’t move my arm for 8 weeks or 12 weeks, when they take the cast off, what happens? It takes days and days till I can even begin to move my arm again because you have not used the power of motion that you’ve been given it’s taken away. This is the law of nature. If you don’t use what you have, it is taken away. If we do not use our human intelligence and our power to discriminate and to understand what is beyond the pleasures and the needs of the body, to understand who am I, what is the true pleasure and fulfillment of all my hearts desires? What is God? What is my relationship? What is death and beyond? If we do not utilize our God given intelligence for this purpose it will be taken away and that is why there are so many species of life for those spirit souls who did not utilize for this purpose. They are given a body where they can factually be happier.

 

Are we really happy?

How many human beings are really happy? If human intelligence which is meant for self realization is directed towards the animal instincts, it creates a total mess out of the world. The air pollution, the water pollution, the wars taking place, the prejudice and hate throughout the world, the putting of nuclear waste in the ground, they don’t know what’s going to happen to the earth. The horrible diseases like cancer and AIDS which are born of misuse of our own bodies, the breaking down of the ultra violet layers of the ozone covering which protect us from the sun, and so many other innumerable problems – are they caused by the birds and the beasts? Or the frogs and the grasshoppers? They are all caused by human beings. Because human beings are trying to use Conscious power of discrimination which is so powerful (the power to understand the eternal self). When we use that great power and direct it towards the insects and animals, we cause a complete mess. We become endlessly greedy and envious and proud and lusty and see the power of what is happening to the whole planet and how many people are suffering. Therefore, it is very very important for us to apply our good intelligence for the ultimate goal of life which is to understand Who am I?

 

Does God exist?

There is definitely a God as after all does everything comes from something or does everything come from nothing? Within your common experience have you ever seen that something comes from nothing? What do you think? This table comes from a tree, this cloth comes from the cotton plant, this body comes from a mother and a father. Everything we have ever witnessed within our life proves that something comes from something. So science means to be consistent. Now if everything comes from something, can everything come from nothing? If everything comes from nothing, it is scientifically not possible because what ever we have must come from either an object or a mixture of objects which should have all the characterisitics of the final product. That is physics. How can something with quality come from nothing with no quality? There is no rational explanation. There is no scientific understand to this – if something could come from nothing, then there is no God.  But if everything comes from something, then that something is God. What are the qualities of that something? What is the nature of that something?  That is a great science to understand. But first we have to accept that it is certainly very possible that there must be an absolute truth from which everything is emanating or the cause of all causes.

 

The Absolute Truth

The Vedanta sutra says, janmadya shyayaatha- “The absolute truth is from whom everything emanates. So human life is meant to question, is there a God? If there is a God, what is my relationship with God? If we do not utilize our life for this purpose, then according to our karma, or according to the laws of action and reaction, we must take another birth in the wombs of various species of life. But if you realize through direct experience, it is explained, mamo pethya punar janam dukhalayam- that those who realize the eternal self, they no longer take birth in this world, where everything is temporary, where there is suffering of birth, old age, disease and death, but they attain the supreme natural spiritual position, which is meant for everyone. If you are spiritual by nature, to identify with this body and to try to find pleasure with this body is like a fish, trying to find pleasure out of the water. You can take an example – of pleasure to a fish out of water. You can give it nice food, it will think, ah! It tastes very nice, but he is still miserable because he is still not in the water. You can give him a nice female fish, “Ah, very very good.” But how long, will that last? You can give him a good reputation and show he is in the front pages of newspapers and he will say, “Ah, I am great, everyone loves me.” You can give him a beautiful house, but as long as he is dying in the sand, he cannot be satisfied because it is not his nature.

 

Material nature v/s spiritual nature

There is material nature and spiritual nature. This body is material nature. This mind and intelligence is subtle material nature. Krishna  explains in the Gita, bhumir apo nalo vayuh- earth, water, fire, air, ether, these are the basic gross material elements, and there are three subtle material elements- the mind, subtler than the mind is the intelligence and subtler than the intelligence is false ego. But then he goes on to explain, apreham idastvanyam prakritim……. – that’s subtler than even the subtlest element, the false ego is the conscious force that emanates and gives life to this mind and body. Just like if you have a radio, the radio has all the components to give sound. But without the electric current, none of the functions of the radio can operate. A computer is very very sophisticated, a computer has it’s own brain and it’s own ways of expressing what’s in the brain. But without an electric current, that computer can do nothing. An automobile has so many functions, but not a single function can operate without the driver. So this body is like that. Your eyes cannot see. Your ears cannot hear. Your tongue cannot taste in itself. There is somebody seeing through the eyes, hearing through the ears, tasting through the tongue, loving from the heart and thinking from the brain. Who is that? It is you. You are the conscious force, the witness, the ‘atma’ or the soul within this body and in this human form of life, we have the power to realize and understand how this soul is eternal, full of knowledge and full of joy.

 

Searching for unending joy

All the joy that we are seeking through the senses never really satisfies us because it is all temporary and limited. Every living being from the insignificant insect to the greatest king, everyone is looking for unending joy. Why? Why do we all have that in common? Because it is our nature. The nature of the fish is to enjoy in the water. And it cannot enjoy out of water. The very essence of our life is to enjoy the eternal spiritual pleasures within our own hearts. But we have forgotten, not only forgotten, but we have abandoned what is within us, and we are groping , searching, scraping to find that pleasure outside through the senses and the objects. But it never works. For those who seek pleasure  in the senses and their objects, they must continue the repetition of birth and death through the various species of life, in the pursuit of pleasure. But when we look at our soul for the answer, then we go first to a philosophical, logical understanding of what may be there and then doing some serious research in this regard and then follow a particular process where experience and realization takes place. Yes, we can then experience the taste, the pleasure, the bliss that we have always been anxious for. We are going everywhere except our home-i.e within our own hearts, and when we find it there, we can share that glorious state of true security and pleasure with all of our loved ones, and with all of humanity and that is the greatest goal of life. This is available for each and every one of us and it does not mean that we require to give up our pursuits and our responsibilities with regard to our family and occupation. It means that we should perform our duty in this world, in this divine state of consciousness, this is what the Bhagavat Gita  teaches. Whatever your way of life may be, whether a businessman or a doctor or a lawyer, or whether it is housewife or a student. Whether you have wife and children. And it is not that you must necessarily give up your responsibilities in this world, because there is a need for all these various professions, for human society to function. But the greatest need is for the people who are engaging in these activities to do it with the understanding of truth. Because truth awakens love, mercy and selfless service to all others, and that is the greatest need. In this world, there is not enough love, compassion and truth. In this world if that was there, everything else would be provided. If you examine the situation of our planet today, all shortages are due to greed and envy. So therefore to perform your duty in this state of divine consciousness, the consciousness of love, which is within you, that is a great gift, that is available in your life. So please we are not concerned with converting a person from one religion to another. We are not concerned with recruiting members. We are simply concerned with enlightening persons to truly take advantage of the opportunity to realize the principles of universal truth and love that is within your own heart.

Thank you very much!

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.