Years ago, I met with Mother Teresa. A newspaper reporter was glorifying her for nicely serving the poor. She said, ‘You don’t know who the poor are. People in the western countries living in big mansions, expensive homes, driving in nice cars, eating all kinds of foods—they are poor. Because although they have so much wealth materially, their hearts are lonely, their hearts are starving. When I look in their eyes, I see poverty of the heart. These people dying in the streets of Calcutta with nothing, when I look in their eyes, I often times see they have faith. They have faith in God. They have abundance within their hearts.’
So who is poor? A rich man is fearful, suspicious, lonely, taking sleeping pills to go to sleep at night, taking alcohol and drugs to somehow or other cope with the anxieties of the day. Going here and there—to Europe, to Alaska, to Singapore and all kinds of vacations—to somehow or other just find some variety in life or escape from the loneliness within. Sometimes even engaging in cruel egoistic acts to others just to get some excitement out of life. This is poverty. They are poor.
By Radhanatha Swami