Silicon Valley which is a hotbed for innovation for technology, scientific developments, and entrepreneurship, hacked into spirituality for a mindset shift on July 16, 2016, with Bhakti-yoga leader Radhanath Swami and Marci Shimoff, bestselling author of several self-help books including Love for No Reason and Happy for No Reason. Marci Shimoff is also the woman’s face of Chicken Soup for the Soul and is a featured teacher in the international film and book sensation, The Secret.
Held at the Jain Center, the program was cohosted by Bay Area entrepreneurs N. Prameela, Damodar Reddy, Sushant and Namrata Patnaik as well as by Artha Forum, a community dedicated to providing healthy work/life balance and business ethics based on spiritual principles. Around 300 entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and thought leaders attended the event.
During his introduction N.Damodar Reddy, Founder, Chairman and CEO, SutiSoft Inc., shared about Radhanath Swami, “One thing that stands out with all my conversations with Swamii is that it’s all about finding love within your own heart. And that is the essence of Bhakti-yoga.”
The event began with a mesmerizing flute recital by the Director of Digital Commerce at Adobe Prasad Bhandarkar and his son Kunal. This created a mood of tranquility for the evening.
Marci Shimoff spoke briefly about finding happiness in a world plagued by sorrow and gloom. Sharing her personal story about finding happiness she said, “Since childhood, I had existential angst. In June 1998, I had three books on NYT bestseller list. I felt like an author rock star. But I burst into tears. I couldn’t convince myself to believe to be happy. After a lot of interviews with people who practice spirituality and happiness, I realized being joyful is not dependent on external circumstances.”
Radhanath Swami began his talk by explaining the aphorism “annada mayo ‘bhyasat”. “We are all seeking happiness. From the cockroach on the kitchen counter to a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Everyone is trying to avoid what interferes with their happiness. This question leads to the very basis of spirituality – Who Am I?” said Swami.
He explained that a car may be nourished with oil and gasoline, but will it give deep pleasure to the driver of the car? The driver may be happy momentarily but he needs a different type of sustenance. Things can give flickering happiness to the senses and mind. But it never gives true pleasure. Real fulfillment is a state of heart. Real happiness means to love and be loved.”
Throughout his talk, Swami shared personal anecdotes about experiences that helped shape him as a teacher on the path of Bhakti Yoga.
After Swami’s discussion on happiness, fulfillment, and spirituality, Vaisesika Prabhu, President of ISKCON Silicon Valley shared his appreciation of Marci Shimoff, Radhanath Swami, and Artha Forum.
Rajeev Srivastav, Managing Partner, Basil Capital Partners and Founding Member of Artha Forum shared the broader vision of Artha. He stressed having a higher goal and purpose is a bigger motivator than simply trying to accumulate wealth for yourself.
The event ended with a book signing and a vegetarian dinner. Sourabh Tandon, Board Member at TiE Silicon Valley and Partner at Alpheas Advisors shared, “We often forget about simple things in life. Then we read several books and have great ideas and concept to live life to the fullest. But then you see somebody actually living it when they had so many other choices to take. This itself is inspiring. That’s why I love listening to Swami.”
“This was a blissful and life changing evening for me. Swami spoke with such simplicity but yet it was so lively with all his experiences and stories,” said Pankaj Srivastav.