On Monday, October 2nd, 2017, in the hours following the mass shooting tragedy in Las Vegas, Radhanath Swami was interviewed by the live streaming financial news network Cheddar on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The NYSE, often referred to as “The Big Board,” is the largest stock exchange by market capitalization in the world.
Cheddar broadcasts daily, live from the floor of the NYSE, NASDAQ, the Flatiron Building in New York City, and the White House lawn and briefing room in Washington, D.C. covering new products, technologies, and services. Founded by Jon Steinberg, former president of Buzzfeed and former CEO of Daily Mail, Cheddar has been described as “quasi-CNBC for millennials”, with nearly 150 million views per month, and growing, across all of its platforms.
As he commonly does in these types of settings, Radhanath Swami shared his message of “earning with integrity and spending with compassion” as a formula for those in the fields of industry and finance.
An excerpt for the interview is transcribed below. The entire interview can be seen on Cheddar’s website here.
Question: I want to bring it back to finance for a minute. You haven’t had a bank account since 1969. Is the irony lost on you that right now you are in the financial hub of the world sitting in the New York Stock Exchange and that not just business leaders but international finances come to you for advice?
Radhanath Swami: I guess they see me as harmless, and neutral (laughs).
But real wealth for anyone, whether we are penniless monks or billionaires – real wealth is in our inner peace and happiness, and how we can extend peace and happiness through what we have, and through who we are, and what are influence is for the well-being of others.
Krishna tells in the Bhagavad-gita (5.23),
Bhoktaram yajna tapasam
Sarva loka maheshvaram
Suhrdam sarva bhutanam
Jnatva mam santim rcchati
That real peace, joy and love comes when we understand, as we said before, we are not the proprietors, we are the caretakers of all the sacred gifts we have. We have intelligence, we have wealth, we have power, we have ability, we have influence. Ghandhi once said, “there goes my people, and I must follow them because I am their leader”. Real leadership is by our example to actually establish these principles of respect and compassion.
Question: We have Neil deGrasse Tyson on the show from time to time and he says this stuff which I always find so inspiring of us being stardust and things like that. In your culture and beliefs is there one energy that basically ties everything together? You have used the term how we are all caretakers, we all should be egoless, we are all just custodians of a sort. So is it one energy that ties everything together?
Radhanath Swami: In our tradition the energy is grace, and that grace is coming from the Supreme Being or God, who as many names. In India the sun is called Suriya, in Mexico Sol, and in America sun. Its the same sun. So that same supreme source, that cause of all causes, the Bhagavad-gita calls Krishna. Jesus says in the Bible, “What shall it profit a person if they gain the whole world but they lose their soul. And the Bhagavad-gita tells that whatever we may have, the only true value and purpose of it is how we are connected to that source, that one energy as you are saying, the energy of God’s grace. And to be an instrument of that grace in our life.
Question: Well, thank you so much for being here on a tragic day, and offering some thoughts and some guidance. It was very meaningful to have you here. Thank you for joining us.
Radhanath Swami: These tragedies – we can pray, we can try as communities to create relief for those who are suffering, and most of all try to be an example in whatever we do, and actually people who have much have the greatest power to change the world by their example.