(At an impressive ceremony at the prestigious Nyenrode University, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was conferred with an honorary doctorate today.
Addressing the gathering , the Rector of Nyenrode, Dr. Maurits van Rooijen FRSA, said that it was a great privilege for the university that Sri Sri has accepted this doctorate. In its 65 years since inception, the university has conferred this doctorate on very few individuals, some of whom include Mr Nelson Mandela, Mr A P J Abdul Kalam and Mr Bill Gates.
He added that the work and life of Sri Sri is a true representation of Leadership, Entreprenuership and Stewardship, the three core values of the University.
Sri Sri then address the gathering with the following words)
Honorable Rector, Honorable Dean, Honorable Board of Trustees, and all the dignitaries present here. I am so honored to receive this doctorate degree from Nyenrode University. I really appreciate and feel grateful to you for choosing me to be part of this university. Even without studying in this university I have become an Alumnus of the University today.
I feel there are three important aspects to education; first is information, second is observation and third is intuition. I am so happy to hear that this university has all these aspects.
Often when we think of education, we think it is only gathering of information; that is not sufficient. You need keenness of mind, a mind which is alert and sharp enough to absorb what is happening around, and what is happening within. Ethics is listening to the consciousness that is deep within, and acting according to it when it comes to social interactions.
We need to take responsibility for the atmosphere that we< are in. That attitude of taking responsibility for our own environment makes all the difference. It can make you very happy, and motivate you to take up more work.
Observation is a very important aspect of education, which has not been given much attention by many of the educational institutions.
The third thing is the intuitive ability. If you turn back and look at the past, there have been great scientists who have not gone to college and obtained a degree. They had developed an intuitive ability, whether it is Thomas Alva Edison or even Albert Einstein. They all had that intuitive ability, which they nurtured within themselves. To me, spirituality begins here. Spirituality is that which enables you to get in touch with your observation, your perceptual ability, and enhance your intuitive faculty. When the mind is calm it is able to perceive things better. When the mind is disturbed, our perception is also totally disturbed. So the mind needs to be calm then perception becomes better, observation becomes much clearer, and expression becomes more understandable.
So perception, observation and expression are three ways to communicate with the world around us.
Business depends a lot on communication. When communication breaks down, business breaks down. Communication can be better only when there is an element of spiritual awakening, or spiritual power, or force within each one of us.
Again, when we say spirituality, we simply think it is someone sitting and doing something out there - no, that is not the case. We are all made up of matter and spirit. Our bodies are made up of carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids. Our spirit, our mind is made up of truth, integrity, honesty, beauty, compassion, love, cooperation and creativity. All these qualities are considered as spirituality, they are part of our spirit.
Today in the world this huge menace of depression is arising - mental depression, lack of trust or trust being broken down. Fear and insecurity about financial aspects and relationship aspects of life is also increasing. So, it is all the more vital that we place more emphasis on spirituality, i.e., building inner strength, bringing back confidence in the humanness of our society, turning our mind back to compassion and love which is the very breath of our existence. From being a mechanically driven life, we need to turn into a life full of enthusiasm, cooperation and humanness.
I am glad that Nyenrode University has already taken this step and is working towards this.
I was so happy to hear that there is a whole Department on Business and Ethics; this would give hope to our society. If there is Narayana there should be Lakshmi; means when there is spirituality, there should be wealth as well.
Today the mess that we are facing in Europe and in other parts of the world also, is because of the greed of a few. Isn't it so? We hear about scam after scam after scam because corruption has in some way been accepted, socially and politically. Though there are some voices that come up, but again they subside, and things continue the way they were. That is where a big wave of awakening has to happen against corruption.
According to me, corruption begins where a sense of belongingness ends. When you have a sense of belongingness, you will never be corrupt with those people. You will never take or give bribe from those who you feel belong to you. When that sense of belongingness ends, that is exactly when corruption begins.
In today’s world, technology has shrunk the world into a global village; we cannot afford to have a sectarian mindset where you think, ‘This belongs to me and this does not.’
We need to have a broad vision that the whole world is one human family. The lack of this has created so much strife. Otherwise we will go back to the Middle-Ages when we used to fight in the name of race, religion, language, with war after war. significantly destroying ourselves.
As I was saying, India was at the peak of its economic growth when the spiritual awakening was very high. It contributed to 33% of the world's GDP. When Lord Macaulay traveled the length and breadth of the country, he did not find one poor or sick person. That was the state of affairs when there was so much of heart, so much of service, and so much of a sense of belongingness. When this started declining, greed, anger, jealousy and hatred overtook the society, and economic downturn came very fast.
This is the lesson we need to learn from history. We need to connect people from that inner core of our existence. To say it simply, we have to become like children again.
From acting as grown-up-robots, we need to come back to a position where we maintain our innocence and still be very intelligent. In short, a violence-free society, a stress-free mind, a disease-free body, an inhibition-free intellect, a trauma-free memory and a sorrow-free soul is the birthright of every human being. We should dream of this big dream, and make it possible.