: Below are the excerpts from Sri Sri’s talk at the Business, Ethics & Spirituality discussion sponsored by the University of Southern California.
In the panel discussion, Sri Sri was joined by John Paul Dejoria, a first generation American-turned-enterpreneur, philanthropist, government officer and an integral part of the business community; and Rob Dyrek, a professional skateboarder, television star, filmmaker, enterpreneur and multi-faceted philanthropist.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A few years ago, it was not considered appropriate for someone spiritual to be in a business setting. Business and spirituality, or business and charity appeared to be poles apart. Essentially, business is to give less and take more. If a banana is worth ten cents, it will be sold for twelve. You take more and you give less in business. However, charity is to give more than you take.
The backbone of business is trust. If trust is broken, business cannot succeed. Greed kills the consciousness. That’s what we saw with the financial crisis. To prevent this, it is essential for companies like John Paul Mitchell Systems to grow. Paul Mitchell is an example that shows that an individual need not be unethical to be rich and successful.
Corruption is the greatest dilemma in the world. Africa has no money to feed its people, yet there are billions in the bank accounts of corrupt politicians. How can the world be so blind to countries where there is such suffering and famine? When we raised this issue in the European Parliament, the office holders said they would send the money back to the African people. Corruption only happens out of a sense of non-belongingness. No one can be corrupt towards the people they belong to. We need to bring a sense of belongingness to every individual. How can that happen? When the mind is stress-free. A stress-free mind is the source of love. We must foster a sense of belongingness that cuts across the prejudice of nationalities and religions. The Art of Living Foundation have such a wide range of programs, so that people can learn how to cultivate a sense of belongingness.
We need to care and share. There have been earthquakes in Haiti, China and elsewhere. Today, businesses are helping out. America is at the forefront in providing aid. You should really congratulate yourselves.
There is a story I want to share. There was an earthquake in Gujarat many years ago. Our volunteers went to work there. They met an elderly lady who had gone to the temple and on her return found that she had lost everyone in her family. She had lost her sons, daughter-in-law and husband. Her home had crumbled. She had only a little amount in her purse which she wanted to give as a donation. Our volunteers refused her donation and said that they had come to give and not take. She said, “Nature has taken everything away from me. Don’t take away my right to give as well. Please accept my contribution, it is my dharma.” Our volunteers had tears in their eyes. When you have and you share, it is not a big deal. When you don’t have and you share, then that is something.