Last year I was talking with one of our organizers just generally about some programs and after some minutes of talk he said ‘Swami Ji, I see a businessman in you.’ and he laughed. I felt good about this. I can imagine that some of you frown now and wonder how this can make me happy. Some may even think this statement should have insulted me. Yesterday I already started explaining to you why it did not.
What is business? For me the definition is something like this: First you make an investment. You then put effort and work in it and in the end you harvest the fruits. In this way you earn back what you invested and hopefully some more.
Before my time in the cave I was used to live as a guru. I was celebrated as a holy man, worshipped by others. In that time I was not really doing any business. I see it like that because I did not do any investment, I only got the fruit. In business you earn should earn your investment and some more so that your money or bank account numbers increase. A spiritual person who claims detachment from material is actually not supposed to do business and if you say this to some of the biggest gurus of this time, they would probably feel insulted and get angry. I might have felt this way, too, if you had called me a business man 15 or 20 years ago.
Now however I don’t. In 1997 I went into the cave and my whole life changed in the years afterwards. I made a journey from being called holy man to being called businessman. I like to learn and do business and my mind and path is developing in the right way with all the activities that we offer and our charity projects which seem to be growing and making progress every day.
Now there is just one small difference to the regular businessman: I do not want to put my profit into my bank account! I want to do charity with it. We work very hard and give our best in whatever we do. Sometimes people who see our website wonder and one person said to me ‘I never saw a charity website that has a shop! You offer so many things to your visitor!’ And I told him yes, this is what I want to do. I want to offer retreats, activities and even items in our shop.
There have been many experiences with running the Ashram and offering all these activities, a mix of sweet and sour. Through all this my idea about being a businessman has become very clear. And my reward is not the money. My reward is these children's smile!